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How Social Media Polarizes America

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  • Date Published: August 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108472531

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About the Authors
  • Why do Americans have such animosity for people who identify with the opposing political party? Jaime E. Settle argues that in the context of increasing partisan polarization among American political elites, the way we communicate on Facebook uniquely facilitates psychological polarization among the American public. Frenemies introduces the END Framework of social media interaction. END refers to a subset of content that circulates in a social media ecosystem: a personalized, quantified blend of politically informative 'expression', 'news', and 'discussion' seamlessly interwoven into a wider variety of socially informative content. Scrolling through the News Feed triggers a cascade of processes that result in negative attitudes about those who disagree with us politically. The inherent features of Facebook, paired with the norms of how people use the site, heighten awareness of political identity, bias the inferences people make about others' political views, and foster stereotyped evaluations of the political out-group.

    • Creates an original theoretical framework to evaluate political interactions on social media
    • Situates political interaction on social media in the broader context of how people use the technology
    • Intends to steer the direction of future research of political communication on social media
    • Presents free from jargon and overly technical explanations
    Read more


    • Winner, 2019 Best Book Award, Experimental Research Section, American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Easily the most comprehensive, theory-driven examination of social media and political polarization to date.' Diana Mutz, Samuel A. Stouffer Professor of Political Science and Communication, University of Pennsylvania

    'Frenemies is compelling social science with an original, provocative claim: our minds see the often non-political bits and pieces that unknown friends of friends reveal about themselves on Facebook and exaggerate them into a phalanx of misguided political opponents. Combine this mechanism with Facebook’s scope, and you get a veritable polarization machine that transforms casual chitchat among strangers into bitter if illusionary partisan disagreement.' Markus Prior, Princeton University, New Jersey

    'Frenemies is a path-breaking and well-researched book. It offers both theoretical and empirical breakthroughs on the political effects of social media. Settle’s novel and insightful theoretical framework succeeds where previous scholarship has failed in providing a coherent model for understanding how unique aspects of the social media environment interact with human psychology to influence political attitudes and behavior. She also makes a compelling and strong case that Facebook, of which a majority of Americans use, has contributed to the increase in partisan bitterness and division that we observe today. This book will set the standard in the study of political communication for years to come.' Kevin Arceneaux, Temple University, Pennsylvania

    'An instant classic … brilliant, [challenges] assumptions that pundits and scholars have about how the process works. The book will set the standard for future media and politics research.' Marc Hetherington, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108472531
    • length: 330 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 158 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 42 b/w illus. 26 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. A fundamental change in political communication
    2. Facebook in context: theorizing interaction on twenty-first century social media
    3. The END framework of political interaction on social media
    4. How do END interactions on the news feed psychologically polarize users?
    5. In the eye of the beholder: politically informative news feed content
    6. Political inference from content on the news feed
    7. Biased inference from END interactions
    8. Judging the other side
    9. Erasing the coast of Bohemia in the era of social media
    Appendix A
    Appendix B.

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    Jaime E. Settle

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  • Author

    Jaime E. Settle, College of William and Mary, Virginia
    Jaime E. Settle is an Associate Professor of Government, director of the SNaPP Lab, and co-director of the Social Science Research Methods Center at the College of William and Mary, Virginia. She studies the American public's day-to-day experience with politics. Settle has published in Nature, the American Journal of Political Science, and has been supported by the National Science Foundation.


    • Winner, 2019 Best Book Award, Experimental Research Section, American Political Science Association

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