Through my research I seek to understand how culture and context shape the use of digital media in collective action and political communication more broadly. I also study representation, with a focus on electoral systems and political parties, and the politics of the environment.
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Select Peer-Reviewed Publications
Jenkins, M., & Gomez, D. (2022). Trump Lies, Truth Dies? The Effect of False Balance Reporting on Beliefs about Voter Fraud. The International Journal of Press/Politics (https://doi.org/10.1177/19401612221111997).
Abstract: Media scholars have long recognized the potential for falsely balanced reporting to distort public opinion, but existing empirical evidence does not support the claim that it unambiguously increases or reinforces misperceptions. In this study, we examine the effect of falsely balanced reporting on perceptions of voter fraud in US elections through original survey experiments conducted before and after the 2020 US presidential election. The results show that exposure to falsely balanced reporting largely decreases belief in voter fraud among Democrats and Republicans low in political knowledge, but only when the reporting is attributed to a pro-partisan news source. The results show that exposure to falsely balanced reporting increases belief in voter fraud among high knowledge Republicans when it is attributed to a pro-partisan news source. These findings suggest that false balance reporting may be less of an epistemic problem than previously considered. However, we also find that all correctives have no effect on Republicans in the post-election period, suggesting that any sort of journalistic intervention is extremely sensitive to political context
Jenkins, M. (2021). Bringing the Cross-Pressures Thesis into the Digital Realm: Subjective Social Network Heterogeneity and Online Political Expression. eJournal of eDemocracy and Open Government, 13(1), 144-163.
Abstract: Approaches to social network heterogeneity in political communication research tend to focus on the effect of accumulated interactions among individuals with different political views. This line of research has provided a number of rich insights into the nature of the relationship between sociality and political participation. At the same time, this research tradition has been hampered by inconsistent terminology, and it has not been updated to reflect the fact that the experience of engaging with politics through digital media produces a unique subjective experience wherein the user is made to address an imagined audience with a perceived set of characteristics. In this study I aim to accomplish three main objectives. First, I propose an adjustment to the conceptual framework used in the literature. Second, I introduce the concept of subjective social network heterogeneity to describe perceived heterogeneity in the political views of the imagined audience. Third, I investigate the relationship between subjective social network heterogeneity and political expression empirically, through an analysis of original survey data from Japan and South Korea. The results show that differences between the political views of an individual and the perceived political views of the imagined audience depresses political expression on social media in both countries, but that variance in the perceived views of the imagined audience is positively associated with political expression.
Jenkins, M. (2020). Contextualizing the Effect of Digital Protest Appeals on Political Self-Expression: Evidence From a Cross-Case Comparison. International Journal of Communication, 14, 6266-6285.
Abstract: Do digitally mediated weak-tie appeals to engage in connective action have the same effect everywhere? This study argues that the effect of weak-tie action appeals is contingent on citizenship norms and corresponding social network dynamics such that citizens in countries with higher levels of engaged norms are more likely to be motivated to endorse protest posts than those in countries with lower levels of engaged norms. To demonstrate this, I draw on an original cross-national survey experiment, the results of which show that digitally mediated weak-tie appeals to engage in protest have a more strongly positive effect on motivation to endorse the appeal among Koreans than Japanese respondents. Furthermore, the impact of weak-tie appeals exhibits considerable sensitivity to social network heterogeneity among Japanese respondents. The results of this study suggest that, although technology may in principle empower horizontal networks of citizens, its effect is contingent on norms of political behavior.
Are Mixed Member Majoritarian Systems Really the Worst of Both Worlds? (Revise and Resubmit)
The Effect of False Balance Reporting on Support for Voter ID Laws. (Revise and Resubmit)
Setting Political Discussion Norms: The Effect of Sanctioning on Opinion Acceptability.
The Use of Digital Media for News and Institutional Trust.
Too Small to Win, Too Important to Fail? The Paradox of Small Party Support in Mixed-member Systems (with Geoff Allen).