Context Matters: Political Polarization on Twitter From a Comparative Perspective – Media, Culture & Society – article

Context Matters: Political Polarization on Twitter From a Comparative Perspective

Aleksandra Urman | Media, Culture & Society

2019-10-22

This article explores the issue of political polarization on social media. It shows that the intensity of polarization on Twitter varies greatly from one country to another. The analysis is performed using network-analytic audience duplication approach and is based on the data about the followers of the political parties’ Twitter accounts in 16 democratic countries. Based on the topology of the audience duplication graphs, the political Twitterspheres of the countries are classified as perfectly integrated, integrated, mixed, polarized and perfectly polarized. Explorative analysis shows that polarization is the highest in two-party systems with plurality electoral rules and the lowest in multi-party systems with proportional voting. The findings help explain the discrepancies in the results of previous studies into polarization on social media. The results of the study indicate that extrapolation of the findings from single-case studies on the topic is impossible in most cases, suggesting that more comparative studies on the matter are necessary to better understand the subject and get generalizable results.

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