Resisting Censorship: How Citizens Navigate Closed Media Environments
Why do citizens seek alternative online information sources in censored mass media environments? How do they react to perceived media censorship? Drawing on psychological reactance and work in comparative democratization, we propose a new communication construct called motivated resistance to censorship, which assesses cognitive and affective reactions to perceived censorship and, in turn, predicts online information seeking as a mitigation strategy. We evaluate our proposed construct based on two survey studies in Turkey including a national face-to-face household survey of Turkish respondents (N = 1,161) and a second survey of Turkish Internet users (N = 2,002). Our results validate the central propositions of our model. We discuss the contributions of adopting reactance theory to better understand citizen responses to media censorship and future directions for research.