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The Social Capital of Blacks and Whites: Differing Effects of the Mass Media in the United States




This study relied on telephone survey interviews of adults in two U.S. metropolitan areas to examine whether the relationship between mass media use and social capital varies according to ethnicity. A multigroup approach taken with structural equation modeling validates a four-factor model of social capital for Blacks and Whites and then, with the implementation of a comprehensive model that also includes mass media inputs, tests for structural variance between the ethnic groups. A well-fitting comprehensive model is achieved, with significant differences between Blacks and Whites in terms of the mass media use structures. In support of the two hypotheses, the relationship between news use and social capital is less positive for Blacks than for Whites and the relationship between entertainment TV viewing and social capital is more negative for Blacks than for Whites. These findings are discussed in terms of literature involving mass media effects on social capital, news coverage of ethnic groups, and ethnic differences in self-conceptualization and media responses.