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Strengthening Democracy with Information: An Assessment of Rural Dwellers’ Political Information Behavior
Date of this Version
This study explored political information behavior of citizens residing in a rural setting from the district of Toba Tek Singh, Punjab-Pakistan. Qualitative research design using an unstructured interview guide was employed to conduct this research. Face-to-face interviews of 51 participants, selected through purposive sampling process, were conducted for data collection by visiting their homes using local language. Each participant was informed of his responses at the end of the interview for data verification and authentication. Each interview was carefully recorded and transcribed. Using thematic analysis, the verbal data were analyzed and multiple responses were grouped together and reduced into ‘information needs’ and ‘information channels.’ After that, the frequencies and percentages of the responses against these themes were counted because it was possible due to the uniformity in the qualitative data. The results indicated that a large majority of these participants were politically ignorant and did not seem to be in need of political information. A good number of participants required political information on current affairs, rural development policies, government policies and decisions, and both local and national political news. They mainly depended on mass media particularly television for political information followed by newspapers, radio, and interpersonal relationships. Since the rural dwellers were not interested in political information due to political ignorance and backwardness, efforts should be made to improve their political awareness. There was a critical need to evaluate the effectiveness and appropriateness of the existing information infrastructure for the rural population in Pakistan. The results will assist the policy makers in the development of a need-based, unified, and integrated rural information delivery system. This research would make a worthy contribution in existing research on information needs and seeking behavior of rural communities as no such study found addressing directly rural citizens’ political information behavior.