Date of Award

2012

Degree Name

Sociology

College

College of Liberal Arts

Type of Degree

M.A.

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Richard Garnett

Second Advisor

Markus Hadler

Third Advisor

Kristi Fondren

Abstract

This study addresses the political socialization of politically conservative individuals and how political ideologies seem to coalesce among individuals from various socioeconomic backgrounds. The main issue that this study aims to tackle is the impact of conservative media on the political socialization of conservative individuals and how media as an agent of socialization might influence them to support ideas that are not to their benefit economically. For instance, conservative individuals from various backgrounds wholeheartedly support the same free market principles. However, the negative effect that capitalism has had on the liberty of middle and lower class citizens of the United States and abroad is typically ignored by conservative media. The idea behind this is that most issues within conservative ideology have an economic component and are based on certain themes (xenophobia, paranoia, et cetera) that identify with certain types of conservatives. Most importantly, the economic component to social issues allows all types of conservatives from various socioeconomic backgrounds to agree on both economic and social issues. What influence might these themes have on political and economic beliefs? What particular themes are being presented? Are these messages contributing to a false consciousness among careless conservatives?

In order to answer these questions, this study will employ a content analysis approach by analyzing news from Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN. Only content covered from December 1, 2011 to May 31, 2012 will be used. The reason for this is that all issues that are important to conservatives are discussed in depth during this time because of primary elections and the focus on the Republican frontrunner for the presidential election. Each media outlet will be analyzed and coded according to their coverage of three social issues (immigration, gay marriage, and abortion). The analysis will focus on particular themes in regard to an emergent theme approach. This study will also apply a theoretical framework based on Georg Lukacs and Karl Marx’s work on false consciousness.

This study is important because the regularity of these inconsistent beliefs is hindering real political process. For example, there are United States citizens labeling President Obama as a socialist and communist. Most politicians and U.S. citizens are so enamored with their ideology that they see very little room to compromise. Additionally, there are more inconsistencies within the political ideology of modern conservatives than what are addressed in this study, which is cause for additional research.

Subject(s)

Mass media - Influence.

Press and politics - United States.