This study explores the meaning and origins of deliberative political conversation, characterized by an openness to political conflict, the absence of conversational dominance, clear and reasonable argument, and mutual comprehension. Adapting McLeod, Scheufele, and Moy's (1999) model of democratic engagement, we posit a series of relationships among discussion networks, media use, political cognition, and public participation. Using two divergent samples-one consisting of 149 adult literacy students and another comprising 130 public forum participants-we test the model's utility as a predictor of deliberative conversation. Structural equation modeling indicates that network characteristics had mixed effects. Print media use and interpersonal discussion tended to enhance deliberative conversation, and television news viewing hindered both the reasonableness of one's arguments and the comprehension of others' views. Taken together, these results suggest that the deliberative quality of public talk has a complex relationship with common predictors of other political communication behavior.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science