Apprehending Politics

News Media and Individual Political Development

By Marco Calavita

Subjects: Political Communication, Communication
Series: SUNY series in Communication Studies
Paperback : 9780791462805, 292 pages, December 2004
Hardcover : 9780791462799, 292 pages, January 2006

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


1. Introduction

2. Contemporary American Political Culture and News Media

3. Portraits of Individual Political Development

4. The Ecology of Individual Political Development and News Media: Relationships, Institutions, and Culture

5. The Contours of Ideology and Orientation

6. Conclusion: Recontextualizing Politics and News Media

Appendix One: Methodological Issues

Appendix Two: Questionnaire For Participants

Appendix Three: Partial Interview Protocol

Appendix Four: Gauging Political Values and Beliefs and Political and Civic Involvement/Commitment

Appendix Five: Tracking and Analysis of News Media Sources



Using penetrating, in-depth interviews, examines the individual political development of young adults in post-1960s America, and the roles that news media play in that development.


This groundbreaking book examines the significance of the news media for the political beliefs and behavior of contemporary Americans. Relying on original, in-depth interviews with members of the group known as Generation X, Marco Calavita analyzes the memories and understandings of these individuals' political development dating back to childhood. Specifically, he focuses on the developmental significance of news media engagement in the context of institutions and phenomena like family, peers, schooling, and popular culture. Calavita succeeds where others have failed at exploring the inevitably contextualized and ecological nature of individual political development, and the specific roles of news media in that development. Apprehending Politics illuminates the subtle but fundamental power of news media in who we are politically, and how we got that way.

Marco Calavita is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Sonoma State University.