A Divided Digitalized Democracy?

Projekt: Forskning



Funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Divid-Dem project focuses on affective polarization – a democratic challenge that entails negativity and bias against political “outgroups”, which leads to animosity between partisans. The novelty of Divid-Dem lies in exploring how affective polarization may arise through the reciprocal relationship between politicians and citizens, which we argue is made possible by social media. We focus on how politicians’ online messaging on social media platforms, and citizens’ social identity attachments and social media behavior influence each other.

Divid-Dem comprises three interrelated parts drawing on political science, psychology, and communication. In the three parts, we focus on investigating 1) how political representatives use rhetoric on social media that polarizes; 2) what the relationship between political representatives’ rhetoric on social media and users’ social media engagement is; and 3) what effect political representatives’ rhetoric has on voters’ affective polarization.

We develop a theory on political affective polarization through new hypotheses related to the role of political elites and voters in forging identities and hostility through online rhetoric. Our empirical approach employs a triangulation of methods, relying on computational analysis of social media data, qualitative rhetorical analysis, focus groups, and controlled experiments. Moreover, each empirical study breaks new ground in terms of how to analyze affective polarization and its causes.
Gällande start-/slutdatum2023/01/012025/12/31