College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences

Two political science majors win Cal Poly Pomona Student Research Conference

The Cal Poly Pomona Student Research, Scholarship & Creative Activities Conference (CPP Student RSCA Conference) is an annual event that provides an opportunity for our undergraduate and graduate students to share their original research, scholarly and creative activities. All disciplines are represented – this is an opportunity to see CPP students at their best. Students who participate in this conference have the opportunity to be selected to represent CPP at the annual CSU-wide research competition.

This year, two of our majors, Ashling Kelly and Daniel Raad, presented their senior thesis projects and were selected as winners of the 2017 Student RSCA Conference. 

Ashling Kelly, Do Fact Checks Matter? An assessment on the impact of fact-checking in “post-truth” politics

In the 2016 Presidential election, mistruths, half-truths, and conspiracy theories went mainstream like never before. At the same time, fact-checking has exploded onto the mainstream with more than 30 distinct fact-checking organizations taking shape since 2010. However, in spite of the ubiquity of fact-checking, the falsehoods live on. We know that politicians have continued telling lies and voters keep believing them. Using survey results that examine advertisements from the 2012 Presidential election, this thesis seeks to examine the effectiveness of fact-checking in impacting voter perception, but also examine its limitations. The thesis also suggests ways that fact-checking approaches can be shifted to better influence politicians to be more honest.

Daniel Raad: Do Social Networks Mirror the Ideals of a Deliberative Democracy? 

Facebook is the largest and most popular social network site where deliberation among the American public takes place. Facebook is also a great representation of democratic deliberation because its users consist of both adults and teenagers, so it gives a greater perspective on the American voter. Many scholars argue that online political group participation can lead to increased offline group participation. Existing research demonstrates that group membership encourages trust (Brehm & Rahn 1997; Jennings & Stoker 2004), democratic values, and the development of important political skills (McFarland & Thomas 2006; Fowler 1991). Furthermore, membership in a group provides necessary motivation and incentive to be politically informed (Coleman 1988; Fishkin 1991). However, although social media can inform its users on politics, it is not effective in increasing offline group participation. Technological development has spurred what is known as “networked individualism” where individuals are more likely to share information and work in collaborative networked groups (Wellman 2002). More specifically, the internet has created online political groups that resemble offline political groups. However, online political groups are not perfect examples for offline political groups because they are formed from heavy political biases and do not share the views of all participants. As a result of this, I do not believe that they are a good representation of offline political groups. The bias material is detrimental to the values and ideals of a deliberative democracy because it results in the creation of online political groups with only members that share the same political views. This is contradictory to the diverse conversations and exchanges of ideas that a deliberative democracy is supposed to represent.
Congratulations to Ashling and Daniel! They will both compete in the system-wide CSU Student Research Conference in San Luis Obsipo in April.