One-sided Violence, Political Participation, and Media Usage

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2026-06-06

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2024

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Abstract

How does exposure to one-sided violence affect individuals’ political engagement? Theoretical explanations point in different directions, with existing empirical studies presenting inconclusive results. This paper examines the relationship between one-sided violence exposure and political participation while also incorporating the role of media usage and regime types in shaping civilian reactions. Drawing on data from the UCDP and Afrobarometer datasets, I aligned respondents with one-sided violent events through GIS-based geographical matching. Using an instrumental variable estimation approach, the study reveals that exposure to heightened one-sided violence, particularly when the government is identified as the perpetrator, leads to greater political participation. The positive effect is intensified by the consumption of mass media but dampened by the consumption of social media. The presence of a democratic regime also amplifies the activation effects of one-sided violence. The evidence points to two mechanisms explaining the mobilization impact of one-sided violence: (1) a political trust mechanism, wherein civilians amplify their trust in a government they view as maintaining security through acts of violence, thereby increasing political participation; and (2) an insecurity mechanism, where elevated threat perceptions propel adaptive and coping behaviors. This paper highlights violence’s capacity to motivate political activism and the need to understand the media’s impact in conflict settings.

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Li, Xiaoxiao (2024). One-sided Violence, Political Participation, and Media Usage. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/31021.

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