Taylor Carlson’s Through the Grapevine Under Contract

Through the Grapevine: Socially Transmitted Information and Distorted Democracy

Taylor Carlson signed a contract with University of Chicago Press for Through the Grapevine: Socially Transmitted Information and Distorted Democracy.

Carlson gave a talk on this as part of the American Politics Speaker Series sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Convergence and Innovation and the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University on February 10, 2023.

Click here to read more about the paper. 

Click here to read the full paper from Cambridge University Press. 

To learn more about Taylor Carlson's reserach, click here.


In the world today, individuals are given countless options to learn about politics. We might view this as a good thing that could lead to better-informed publics around the world, which could in turn facilitate greater government accountability. However, the reality is that many find the onslaught of news options to be daunting. Especially in the face of fake news, aggressive disinformation campaigns, partisan media bias, and even partisan groups posing as local news outlets, sifting through all of the information available and deciding what to believe can take substantial effort. One remedy to this problem employed by millions of people around the globe is to delegate the information-search task to friends and family. Instead of consuming the news directly, individuals can rely on conversations with others, both in person and on social media. While interpersonal communication could be an effective means of transmitting and consuming political information (e.g. Lupia & McCubbins 1998; Downs 1957; Berelson et al. 1954; Katz 1957), it carries with it potentially dark consequences. As individuals communicate about politics with each other, they have the power to distort that information, which can provoke both misinformation and polarization.