About the author: Raymond N. Ankney is an assistant journalism professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After working for nine years as a reporter in Washington, DC, and Johnstown, PA, he attended graduate school at Syracuse University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research focuses on how the diffusion of communication technologies has affected US communities.2003 0-7734-6691-6
This study, using a new theoretical approach called cultural catalysis theory, argues that it was the diffusion of many communication technologies – not solely television – that contributed to a decline in Localism (participating in local political issues) and Cosmopolitanism (interest in presidential campaign). Cultural catalysis theory posits that there are four groups in society: Localists, Cosmopolitans, Community Leaders, and Displaced. The theory also posits that technologies changed the composition of these groups over time because they permitted people to look outside their local community for socializing and entertainment, and allowed people to entertain themselves alone in their homes. Two longitudinal datasets, the National Election Study (1960-2000) and the General Social Survey (1974-2000) were used to test the hypotheses.