Government and Politics
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influence the masses of people directly. Elihu Katz (1957) describes the process as a two-step flow of communication, using an approach which reflects interactionists’ emphasis on the social significance of everyday social exchanges. In Katz’s view, messages passed through the media first reach a small number of opinion leaders, including teachers, religious authorities, and community activists.
These leaders "spread the word" to others over whom they have influence. Opinion leaders are not necessarily formal leaders of organized groups of people. For example, someone who hears a disturbing report about the dangers of radioactive wastes in a nearby river will probably tell family members and friends.
Each of these persons may inform still others and perhaps persuade them to support the position of an environmentalist group working to clean up the river. Of course, in any communications process in which someone plays an intermediate role, the message can be reinterpreted. Opinion leaders can subtly transform a political message to their own ends.
Participation and Apathy In theory, a representative democracy will function most effectively and fairly if there is an informed and active electorate communicating its views to government leaders. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case in the United States. Virtually all Americans are familiar with the basics of the political process, and most tend to identify to some extent with a political party, but only a small minority (often members of the higher social classes) actually participate in political organizations on a local or national level.
Studies reveal that only 8 percent of Americans belong to a political club or organization. Not more than one in five has ever contacted an official of national, state, or local government about .Скачать