The civic and social implications of over-the-top television
Krongard, Sarah Lorraine
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Through the lenses of Apparatgeist Theory and the Theory of Networked Publics, this dissertation examines the civic and social implications of the contemporary television ecosystem, focusing on the phenomenon of binge-watching as it relates to political participation and empathic concern. Results of an online survey, including quantitative and qualitative measures, indicate that binge-watching television is a statistically significant factor in positively shaping political participation, both online and offline, regardless of the genre consumed. That said, news and informational programming served as the most powerful genre in predicting political participation. Additionally, this dissertation considers the role of empathy within the binge-watching ecosystem, as informed by the Theory of Narrative Empathy; most strikingly, results suggest that empathic concern relates negatively with binge-watching, regardless of genre consumed. However, the process of talking about the television shows binged proved to be a positive and statistically significant contributor to political participation, political discourse, as well as other-oriented dimensions of empathy. Implications and potential directions for future research and theory development are discussed.