Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Celebrity Politics and Issue Engagement

I'm happy to report that I've published a new piece of research in the latest issue of the British Journal, Celebrity Studies. The article, originally a part of my dissertation, examines the influence of celebrity issue advocacy messages (both video and text) on political engagement at the issue level. This new research emphasis on celebrity politics represents a new direction for my research on the impact of political entertainment.

The case study for the research is Angelina Jolie's involvement with the global refugee crisis and the impact of exposure to her celebrity advocacy efforts vs. exposure to advocacy efforts of an expert on situational involvement, complacency, and apathy toward the refugee issue. The experiment discussed in the article presents some interesting findings about the relationships between receptivity toward celebrity politics and apathy and complacency, and the relationships between situational involvement on the issue and political disaffection. The key take-away: exposure to celebrity issue advocacy messages can impact issue engagement, but this impact often depends on the prior perceived importance of the issue and favourability toward the celebrity advocate.

If you'd like to take a look at the article, you can find it here.

The research is especially relevant as we look toward November 2012 and the involvement of celebrities (dinner with George Clooney, anyone) in the presidential election. Any Hollywood hotshots ready to open their homes to Romney?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

President Obama, Same-Sex Marriage, and Personal Politics

Last week, President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage in a highly watched interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts.

The news media and political pundits have spent the past week or so discussing the implications of President Obama's statement, focusing on consequences for public opinion and the likely outcome of the November 2012 election.

Some, myself included, have speculated about the political implications for states like Maryland that are currently embroiled in the debate. Others have spent considerable time reacting to North Carolina's vote to pass Amendment One banning same-sex unions -- here's just one example of how celebrity politics can coalesce around an issue debate.

Beyond the polls and the speculation, some journalists have chosen to focus on the personal nature of the issue, a theme that dominates my own recent research on public opinion toward same-sex marriage. As I show in a new article in The International Journal of Public Opinion Research, social contact is an important factor influencing attitudes across multiple generations. Moreover, the closer the degree of social or personal contact, the greater the impact on attitudes.

By next week, the focus will likely be on the economy again and the contrasts between Obama and Romney's approach. In the meantime, it's interesting to look at the same-sex marriage issue from a variety of different perspectives including how the characters we see on television help to cultivate our attitudes on the same-sex marriage issue.