Worn out & tuned out: does politics fatigue on social media foster participatory inequality among Americans?

Lane, Daniel S. ; Molina-Rogers, Nancy ; Gagrčin, Emilija

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2023.2289650
URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15205...
Document Type: Article
Year of publication Online: 2023
Date: 6 December 2023
The title of a journal, publication series: Mass Communication and Society
Volume: tba
Issue number: tba
Page range: 1-39
Place of publication: New York, NY
Publishing house: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group
ISSN: 1520-5436 , 1532-7825
Related URLs:
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Humanities > Medien- und Kommunikationswissenschaft (Naab 2022-)
Subject: 070 News media, journalism, publishing
Keywords (English): social media use , political participation , political interest , political inequality
Abstract: In this paper, we take seriously evidence of growing politics fatigue on social media among Americans and consider how this fatigue might ultimately foster participatory inequalities on these platforms. We test two theoretical accounts of how social media (SM) politics fatigue is produced among those who (a) are disinterested in politics altogether (interest-based fatigue) or (b) hold strong political identities (identity-based fatigue). Analyses of two survey datasets collected during the 2020 U.S. election period (Ns = 7,342; 1,190) confirm that the cause of SM politics fatigue is unlikely to be simply a result of increased exposure to politics on social media. Analysis of one dataset provided evidence of interest-based, but not identity-based fatigue—respondents low in political interest experience greater politics fatigue when they encounter higher levels of politics on social media. Further, we find that increased politics fatigue is associated with (a) more negative perceptions of social media, and (b) lower levels of engagement on social media (mixed evidence). In discussing these findings, we consider how abundant opportunities to encounter and engage in politics on social media may produce politics fatigue among those who may most benefit from such opportunities.

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