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Sociologist Elihu Katz on how social networks confirm the influence of word of mouth on political processes

18/03/2011 - genberal, communication

Katz delivered the opening address of the International Symposium on Political Communication held at IE’s Segovia campus and organized by the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR), IE University, and the Annenberg School for Communication of Pennsylvania University.

With regard to our ideas of what social networks are and the new technologies that currently drive social and political change, Professor Katz stated that we do not yet know for sure how political opinion is distributed. “Social networks have shown beyond doubt that word of mouth influences political processes”.

Katz explained how “even in current democracies not everyone feels free to talk, and most political debate takes place in private. People have more involved in politics than previously thought according to recent research”.  Katz also described television as a medium that brought politics into homes around the planet and helped women to form their own opinions.

Katz (Brooklyn, 1926) is an authority on communication in the twentieth century; and co-author, together with P.F. Lazarsfeld, of Personal Influence. The part played by people in the flow of mass communications (1955), a classic in the field of sociology that analyzes relations between mass communication and interpersonal communication. He achieved more fame, however, with Media events, the book he co-authored in 1992 with Daniel Dayan. Both books have been set reading for students of journalism.

Participants in the symposium comprised some one hundred experts from America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, all of whom came to Segovia to  explore issues that included the role of new technologies in politics, and differences between European and US models.

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