Skip to main content
×
Home

Self-Segregation or Deliberation? Blog Readership, Participation, and Polarization in American Politics

  • Eric Lawrence (a1), John Sides (a2) and Henry Farrell (a3)
Abstract

Political scientists and political theorists debate the relationship between participation and deliberation among citizens with different political viewpoints. Blogs provide an important testing ground for their claims. We examine deliberation, polarization, and political participation among blog readers. We find that blog readers gravitate toward blogs that accord with their political beliefs. Few read blogs on both the left and right of the ideological spectrum. Furthermore, those who read left-wing blogs and those who read right-wing blogs are ideologically far apart. Blog readers are more polarized than either non-blog-readers or consumers of various television news programs, and roughly as polarized as US senators. Blog readers also participate more in politics than non-blog readers. Readers of blogs of different ideological dispositions do not participate less than those who read only blogs of one ideological disposition. Instead, readers of both left- and right-wing blogs and readers of exclusively leftwing blogs participate at similar levels, and both participate more than readers of exclusively right-wing blogs. This may reflect social movement-building efforts by left-wing bloggers.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Self-Segregation or Deliberation? Blog Readership, Participation, and Polarization in American Politics
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Self-Segregation or Deliberation? Blog Readership, Participation, and Polarization in American Politics
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Self-Segregation or Deliberation? Blog Readership, Participation, and Polarization in American Politics
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
Ackerman Bruce A., and Fishkin James A.. 2004. Deliberation Day. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Adamic Lada A., and Glance Natalie. 2005. “The Political Blogosphere and the 2004 US Election: Divided They Blog.” Working paper.
Agre Philip E. 2004. The Practical Republic: Social Skills and the Progress of Citizenship. In Community in the Digital Age, eds. Feenberg Andrew and Barney Darin. New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 201–24.
Ansolabehere Stephen. 2006. Cooperative Congressional Election Study, Common Content. [Computer File] Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. [producer] http://web.mit.edu/polisci/portl/cces/commoncontent.html (Release 2: November 14, 2007).
Barnes Samuel H., and Kaase Max. 1979. Political Action: Mass Participation in Five Western Democracies. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Benkler Yochai. 2006. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Benkler Yochai, Shaw Aaron and Stodden Victoria. Unpublished. A Tale of Two Blogospheres: Discursive Practices on the Left and Right. Cambridge MA: Berkman Center, Harvard.
Bimber Bruce. 2000. The Study of Information Technology and Civic Engagement. Political Communication 17 (4): 329333.
Cohen Josh. 1989. Deliberative Democracy and Democratic Legitimacy. In The Good Polity, eds. Hamlin Alan and Pettit Philip. Oxford: Blackwell, 1734.
Dahlgren Peter. 2005. The Internet, Public Spheres, and Political Communication: Dispersion and Deliberation. Political Communication 22 (2): 147–62.
Delli Carpini Michael X., and Keeter Scott. 1996. What Americans Know About Politics and Why It Matters. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Dewey John. 1954 [1927]. The Public and Its Problems. Athens, OH: Swallow.
Downs Anthony. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper & Row.
Drezner Daniel, and Farrell Henry. 2008. Introduction: Blogs, Politics and Power: A Special Issue of Public Choice. Public Choice 134(1): 113.
Farrell Henry. 2009. “Partisanship and Extremism.” Cato Unbound. http://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/02/06/henry-farrell/partisanship-and-extremism/.
Farrell Henry, and Drezner Daniel. 2008. The Power and Politics of Blogs. Public Choice 134(1): 1530.
Fishkin James. 1995. The Voice of the People: Public Opinion and Democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Gelman Andrew, Pasarica Christian, and Dodhia Rahul. 2002. Let's Practice What We Preach: Turning Tables into Graphs. The American Statistician 56(2): 121–30.
Habermas Jurgen. 1984. The Theory of Communicative Action. Boston: Beacon.
Habermas Jurgen. 2006a. Preisrede von Jürgen Habermas: anlässlich der Verleihung des Bruno-Kreisky-Preises für das politische Buch 2005. Renner Institut. http://www.renner-institut.at/download/texte/habermas2006-03-09.pdf (accessed February 25, 2009).
Habermas Jurgen. 2006b. Political Communication in Media Society: Does Democracy Still Enjoy an Epistemic Dimension? The Impact of Normative Theory on Empirical Research. Communication Theory 16(4): 411–26.
Hargittai Eszter, Gallo Jason, and Kane Matthew. 2008. Cross-Ideological Discussion among Conservative and Liberal Bloggers. Public Choice 134(1): 6786.
Herring S.C., Kouper I., Paolillo J.C., Scheidt L.A., Tyworth M., Welsch P., Wright E., and Yu Ning. 2005. “Conversations in the Blogosphere: An Analysis “From the Bottom Up”.” System Sciences, 2005. HICSS '05. Proceedings of the 38th Annual Hawaii International Conference.
Hetherington Marc. 2001. Resurgent Mass Partisanship: The Role of Elite Polarization. American Political Science Review 95(3): 619–31.
Hindman Matthew. 2008. The Myth of Digital Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Hintz Jerry L., and Nelson Ray D.. 1998. Violin Plots: A Box Plot-Density Trace Synergism. The American Statistician 52(2): 181–84.
Jacobson Gary. 2007. “The War, the President, and the 2006 Midterm Congressional Elections.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago.
Johnson Thomas J., and Kaye Barbara K.. 2004. Wag the Blog: How Reliance on Traditional Media and the Internet Influence Credibility Perceptions of Weblogs among Blog Users. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 81(3): 622–42.
Kastellec Jonathan, and Leoni Eduardo. 2007. Using Graphs Instead of Tables in Political Science. Perspectives on Politics 5(4): 755–71.
Knight Jack and Johnson James. n.d. “Politics, Institutions, and Justification: A Pragmatist Theory of Democracy.” unpublished manuscript.
Lodge Milton, and Taber Charles S.. 2007. “The Rationalizing Voter.” Working paper.
Macedo et al. 2005. Democracy at Risk. Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.
Malhotra Neil, and Krosnick Jon A.. 2007. The Effect of Survey Mode and Sampling on Inferences about Political Attitudes and Behavior: Comparing the 2000 and 2004 ANES to Internet Surveys with Nonprobability Samples. Political Analysis 15(3): 286323.
McAdam Doug, Tarrow Sidney, and Tilly Charles. 2001. Dynamics of Contention. New York: Cambridge University Press.
McCarty Nolan, Poole Keith, and Rosenthal Howard. 2006. Polarized America: The Dance of Ideology and Unequal Riches. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
McPherson Miller, Smith-Lovin Lynn, and Cook James M.. 2001. Birds of a Feather: Homophily in Social Networks. Annual Review of Sociology 27: 415–44.
Meraz Sharon. 2007. The Networked Political Blogsphere and Mass Media: Understanding How Agendas are Formed, Framed, and Transferred in the Emerging New Media Environment. Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin.
Mutz Diana. 2006. Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Papachrissi Zizi. 2002. The Virtual Sphere: The Internet as a Public Sphere. New Media and Society 4(1): 927.
Perlmutter David D. 2008. Blogwars. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pole Antoinette, and McKenna Laura. 2007. “Blogging Alone? Political Participation and the Blogosphere.” Working paper.
Polimetrix. 2005. “Polimetrix Validates Innovative Method of Online Sampling in California Special Election.” Polimetrix. http://www.polimetrix.com/news_110905.html (accessed 18 October 2007).
Poole Keith, and Rosenthal Howard. 1997. Congress: A Political Economic History of Roll Call Voting. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Prior Markus. 2007. Post-Broadcast Democracy: How Media Choice Increases Inequality in Political Involvement and Polarizes Elections. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Putnam Robert. 2000. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Rivers Douglas. 2006. “Sample Matching: Representative Sampling from Internet Panels.” Polimetrix White Paper Series. http://www.polimetrix.com/documents/Polimetrix_Whitepaper_Sample_Matching.pdf.
Rosenblum Nancy L. 2008. On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press.
Rosenblum Nancy L. 2009. “Responses on Political Theory, Idealism, and Extremism.” Cato Unbound. http://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/02/11/nancy-rosenblum/responses-on-political-theory-idealism-and-extremism/.
Ruffini Patrick. 2008. “Roots of Defeat.” National Review Online, December 1. http://nrd.nationalreview.com/article/?q=MzY4ZDZkNzlhNGE2Y2EzOGQzZTg3NTk3ODljYWVlZjA=.
Sanders David, Clarke Harold D., Stewart Marianne C., and Whiteley Paul. 2007. Does Mode Matter for Modeling Political Choice? Evidence from the 2005 British Election Study. Political Analysis 15(3): 257–85.
Shirky Clay. 2003. Powerlaws, Weblogs and Inequality. Clay Skirky's Writings About the Internet. http://shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html.
Sides John, and Gross Kimberly. 2007. “Stereotypes of Muslims, Their Causes, and Their Consequences.” Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago.
Sinclair Barbara. 2006. Party Wars: Polarization and the Politics of National Policy Making. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
Skocpol Theda. 2003. Diminished Democracy. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Sunstein Cass. 2008. Neither Hayek nor Habermas, Public Choice 134(1): 8795.
Taber Charles S., and Lodge Milton. 2006. Motivated Skepticism in Political Information Processing. American Journal of Political Science 50(3): 755–69.
Theriault Sean. 2008. Party Polarization in Congress. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Thompson Dennis F. 2008. Deliberative Democratic Theory and Empirical Political Science. Annual Review of Political Science 11: 497520.
Vavreck Lynn. 2007. The Exaggerated Effects of Advertising on Turnout: The Dangers of Self-Reports. Quarterly Journal of Political Science 2(4): 297305.
Wallsten Kevin. 2007. Political Blogs: Transmission Belts, Soapboxes, Mobilizers, or Conversation Starters. Journal of Information Technology and Politics 4(3): 1940.
Wojcieszak Magdalena, and Mutz Diana. 2009. Online Groups and Political Discourse: Do Online Discussion Spaces Facilitate Exposure to Political Disagreement? Journal of Communication 59(1): 4056.
Woodly Deva. 2008. New Competencies in Democratic Communication? Blogs, Agenda-Setting, and Political Participation. Public Choice 134(1): 109123.
Zaller John. 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Perspectives on Politics
  • ISSN: 1537-5927
  • EISSN: 1541-0986
  • URL: /core/journals/perspectives-on-politics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 43
Total number of PDF views: 294 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1250 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.