Differing Influences of Political Communication: Examining How News Use and Conversation Shape Political Engagement in Nigeria

Oluseyi Adegbola, Sherice Gearhart, Bingbing Zhang


Nigeria is an emerging democracy with a political communication environment that supports citizen engagement. Using the differential gains model as theoretical framework, this study tests how different types of political communication relate to three forms of political engagement: non-conventional (protest), conventional (campaign volunteer), and voting. Using a “boots on the ground” sampling approach in six Nigerian geopolitical regions (N = 900), findings highlight how reliance on different types of political information can enhance or undermine citizen engagement. Specifically, results show political talk and texting are the most impactful across engagement types, while traditional news use discourages disruptive non-conventional engagement. Mixed evidence for the differential gains model is identified, and the role of political communication within an emerging democracy is discussed. Recommendations for governmental and nongovernmental political advocacy organizations seeking to mobilize citizens are provided.


political engagement, Nigeria, democracy, media use, SMS, text messaging

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