The citizen-consumer: Media effects at the intersection of consumer and civic culture

Heejo Keum, Narayan Devanathan, Sameer Deshpande, Michelle R. Nelson, Dhavan V. Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars in various fields have speculated that the commercialization of mass media has contributed to the decline of civic culture. They contend that the personal needs emphasized by product-saturated mass media diminish civic-mindedness by creating an individualistic consumption-oriented culture. Despite this critique, some scholars argue that mass media do not erode civic culture in favor of consumer culture; rather, the two are thought to be positively interrelated. Although these contrasting perspectives have been repeatedly discussed, research has rarely empirically investigated these contending claims. We examine media influences on civic and consumer culture while considering the interrelationships of consumer attitudes and behaviors with civic participation using the 2000 DDB Life Style Study. In doing so, we distinguish between news and entertainment media and between socially conscious and status-oriented consumption. A latent variable structural equation model is used to test hypotheses. Results suggest that consumption behaviors and civic participation are not conflicting, even though media foster commercial attitudes and motivate consumption. Overall, media effects on this dynamic are positive, suggesting that critiques of media demobilization may be misplaced.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-391
Number of pages23
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Civic participation
  • Consumer culture
  • Entertainment media
  • Media effects
  • News media
  • Socially conscious consumption
  • Status-oriented consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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