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(2011) The social psychology of communication, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

The social psychology of political communication

Matthew C. Nisbet, Lauren Feldman

pp. 284-299

Political communication is formally defined as the exchange of information, messages, and symbols between institutions, elected officials, social groups, the media, and citizens with implications for the balance of power in society (McLeod, Kosicki, and McLeod, 2007). In a recent article summarising the state of the field, Bennett and Iyengar (2008) trace research on the social psychology of political communication across several intellectual traditions. One strand, as they note, connects closely to early twentieth-century sociologists such as Gabriel Tarde and Paul Lazarsfeld. These pioneers inspired research on how interpersonal conversations and community contexts shape individual news choices, opinions, political decisions, and participation (see also Chapter 4 on social influence). Theorists such as John Dewey, Jurgen Habermas, and Niklas Luhmann have contributed significantly to how the examination of these processes might be evaluated in the context of an idealised vision of public deliberation and participation while drawing attention to important power imbalances (see also Chapter 6's discussion of communicative action). A third influential tradition derives from work by theorists such as Murray Edelman, Harold Blumer, and Erving Goffman. The focus by these scholars on how political language and symbols lead to the selective definition and interpretation of policy issues and social problems anchors contemporary research on framing and media influence (see also Chapter 7, on social representations theory).

Publication details

DOI: 10.1057/9780230297616_15

Full citation:

Nisbet, M. C. , Feldman, L. (2011)., The social psychology of political communication, in D. Hook, B. Franks & M. W. Bauer (eds.), The social psychology of communication, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 284-299.

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