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Modern Talking: On the Democratic Roles of Cross-Cutting Communication in a Polarized World
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The idea that it is desirable for citizens to engage in communication with fellow citizens who hold differing political views – so-called cross-cutting communication – is widespread in different lines of political thought. There is uncertainty, however, as to whether the colloquial cross-cutting communication found in the everyday life of citizens tends to engender important democratic virtues in practice. If it does, moreover, which are the virtues in question? Or does communication of this kind sooner activate psychological defense mechanisms that foster pa-rochialism and fortify pre-existing biases?

The aim of this dissertation is to examine, both theoretically and empirically, the democratic roles played by the cross-cutting communication that takes place in the day-to-day life of ordinary citizens. The empirical part of the dissertation comprises three essays, which study the potential of cross-cutting communication to promote two specific civic virtues: public-minded thinking (Essay I) and inter-group respect (Essays II and III). By utilizing cross-sectional and panel survey data from three different countries – the US, the Netherlands, and Spain – the essays shed light on these relationships in both face-to-face and online venues for political communication.

The results of the studies support the notion that cross-cutting communication, whether it occurs offline or online, may indeed help to promote certain important civic virtues. The dissertation furthermore shows that cross-cutting communication may contribute to alleviating two of the most pressing issues in modern society – the climate crisis and escalating intergroup animosity – while at the same time helping to uphold democratic values and practices. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2021. , p. 66
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 193
Keywords [en]
Political Science, Sociology, Cross-Cutting Communication, Democracy, Social media, Affective Polarization
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-456065ISBN: 978-91-513-1321-4 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-456065DiVA, id: diva2:1603192
Public defence
2022-01-14, Brusewitzsalen, Gamla Torget 6, Uppsala, 13:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2021-12-09 Created: 2021-10-14 Last updated: 2021-12-29
List of papers
1. Do cross-cutting discussions enhance pro-environmental attitudes?: Testing green deliberative theory in practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Do cross-cutting discussions enhance pro-environmental attitudes?: Testing green deliberative theory in practice
2021 (English)In: Environmental Politics, ISSN 0964-4016, E-ISSN 1743-8934, Vol. 30, no 3, p. 326-356Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A central notion among green political theorists is that deliberative engagement enhances environmental values. Despite the centrality of this claim within green political theory, there is a lack of empirical research evaluating its promise outside formal deliberative forums. Here, an empirical large-N study is provided that tests whether everyday political discussion between individuals of different political orientations is positively associated with stronger pro-environmental attitudes in the US. The main finding is that individuals who engaged in this type of cross-cutting discussion reported significantly stronger pro-environmental attitudes compared to individuals who did not engage in this type of discussion. Moreover, the association remained positive for different clusters of individuals regardless of political engagement, party affiliation, or socio-demographics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & FrancisROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2021
Keywords
Deliberation, cross-cutting discussions, green political theory, environmental attitudes and values, de-polarization
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-450614 (URN)10.1080/09644016.2020.1787063 (DOI)000548963200001 ()
Available from: 2021-08-17 Created: 2021-08-17 Last updated: 2024-01-15Bibliographically approved
2. Affective polarization in the digital age: Testing the direction of the relationship between social media and users’ feelings for out-group parties
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Affective polarization in the digital age: Testing the direction of the relationship between social media and users’ feelings for out-group parties
2021 (English)In: New Media and Society, ISSN 1461-4448, E-ISSN 1461-7315Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

There is considerable disagreement among scholars as to whether social media fuels polarization in society. However, a few have considered the possibility that polarization may instead affect social media usage. To address this gap, the study uses Dutch panel data to test directionality in the relationship between social media use and affective polarization. No support was found for the hypothesis that social media use contributed to the level of affective polarization. Instead, the results lend support to the hypothesis that it was the level of affective polarization that affected subsequent use of social media. The results furthermore reveal heterogeneous patterns among individuals, depending on their previous level of social media usage, and across different social media platforms. The study gives reason to call into question the predominating assumption in previous research that social media is a major driver of polarization in society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2021
Keywords
Sociology and Political Science, Communication
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-456055 (URN)10.1177/14614448211044393 (DOI)000703231800001 ()
Available from: 2021-10-14 Created: 2021-10-14 Last updated: 2021-10-18
3. Inclusion without polarization in the (digital) public sphere? The combined workings of enclave and cross-cutting communication
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Inclusion without polarization in the (digital) public sphere? The combined workings of enclave and cross-cutting communication
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Scholars have suggested that the combination of enclave and cross-cutting discussions may involve a democratic dilemma whereby inclusion in the public sphere is promoted while intergroup tension and polarization also increase. Leaning on Spanish E-DEM panel data from 2018-2019, the study investigates the relationship between enclave and cross-cutting communication – individually and in combination – and respondents feelings towards political out-groups. It furthermore examines whether the relationships differ between political discussions that take place offline and online. The results suggest that cross-cutting communication may mitigate the polarizing effect of enclave communication rather than exacerbate it – contrarily to the worries in previous research. They furthermore suggest that offline and online communication have similar workings, which speaks against the widespread concern that online communication may be detrimental to constructive intergroup relations. 

Keywords
Sociology and Political Science, Communication
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-456060 (URN)
Available from: 2021-10-14 Created: 2021-10-14 Last updated: 2021-10-18

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