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A Communicative Approach to Social Capital


Hernando Rojas; e-mail:


This article advances a communicative approach to social capital that views communication as the fundamental source of societal integration. We contend that integration occurring at the system level via news consumption and at the individual level via interpersonal discussion is amplified through ties at the community level. This cross-level interaction is theorized to encourage civic engagement, writ large, above and beyond the influences of news, talk, or social ties. This perspective distinguishes between the extent of news use and political talk and the orientation toward news consumption and political conversation. We offer evidence that communication variables, specifically news attention and exposure along with conversational frequency and orientation toward conversational understanding, interact with associational membership and network size to foster engagement.