Date of Award



© 2013 Colin Longhurst

Document Type



Political Science

First Advisor

Ali Ahmida

Second Advisor

Brian Duff


The primary concern of this thesis is tracing and articulating the political consequences of the Internet as applied to the formation of public opinion. This thesis will present a critical interpretation of a larger theoretical problem while concentrating on two related empirical cases. The broad question that this thesis will ultimately address is this: how, and to what extent has the Internet provided a new platform for the continued ideological hegemony of the American elite? Can an empiric relation be drawn between the rise of Internet-based technologies and contemporary political polarization in public opinion? How has the digital market for media affected the content as well as the production of the news? By reevaluating two lead accounts of news media production and opinion formation, this thesis will argue that the market forces of the digital environment have pushed the American people to the political extremes, which has provided the elite with an unexpected opportunity to further solidify their philosophy as the dominant American ideology. In addressing this argument, this thesis will also explore an unexpected commonality between two different political scientists, Noam Chomsky and John Zaller, in which their two different models actually work to complement one another’s broader conclusions.


Senior thesis