Library Dissertation Showcase

Has new media affected the way in which the general public engages with politics in the UK?

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2020

New media is defined as “products and services that provide information or entertainment using computers or the internet, and not by traditional methods such as television and newspapers” (Cambridge Dictionary, 2020). New media platforms are now omnipresent sources of entertainment and information in today’s society. From trivial content like sharing tweets with friends, to playing a vital role in education, it’s undeniable that new media is here and here to stay. With this new form of content production being so prevalent in society, it makes one wonder if it is affecting the very democratic system that dictates how our society functions. That brings us to this investigations question: ‘Has new media affected the way in which the general public engages with politics in the UK?’. This essay will investigate to what extent it has or has not, as well as trying to close a gap in up to date research on how people’s engagement is being affected, using the recent 2019 general election as a case study.

There is a belief held by many scholars and the general public alike, that the mass media wields an enormous amount of influence over audiences because most people passively absorb information provided to them (Rössler, 2017, 937). This is referred to as the hypodermic needle theory. Developing a fully comprehensive theory that answers every facet of whether the media does influence audiences is difficult. Due to new technologies constantly becoming available, it changes what it means to be the ‘newest’ media platform and therefore dating any conclusions made by scholars (Rössler, 2017, 937). Therefore, in this essay a different approach will be employed to answer this investigation’s question. Utilising the works of many different scholar’s investigations, and new primary research generated for this essay, a wider variety of theories will be considered. Rather than just focussing on whether new media does influence audiences, the opposite will all be investigated, as well as looking at whether there’s a more important factor that influences an audience’s engagement with politics. This will hopefully provide a more balanced interpretation of differing theories to better answer the question at the heart of this essay. This essay will have a two-chapter structure, divided up between different primary and secondary sources, before being followed up by a final conclusion section.

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