Political opinions are polarized when they divide people into groups of supporters and opponents in an antagonistic manner. While political disagreement is normal in a democracy, high degrees of political polarization can result in entrenched political cleavages and all-encompassing social identities. This makes it possible that political competition is captured by extreme interests and exposure to information is increasingly dictated by one’s political leaning (i.e. selective exposure), thus creating insulated echo chambers.
Polarization may also make it difficult to find broad support for signing international treaties or for the use of military force in the face of external threats. The causes of political polarization remain under debate. Some scholars argue that social media is to blame, whereas others think polarization on social media is a reflection of the general polarization of political systems. Either way, intentionally causing polarization is a form of power. At the same time, methodological advances have been made in the study of polarization by, for example, network analysts who analyze polarization as insulated subgroups of actors. This panel presents papers that discuss political polarization, its causes and manifestations, and various methodological ways of analyzing polarization.
Antti Gronow & Yan Xia: Does an External Threat Reduce Political Polarization? The War in Ukraine and Social Media
Keiichi Satoh: Measuring Polarization of Policy Networks Using the Advocacy Coalition Index
Ali Faqeeh & Mikko Kivelä: Policy Networks and Social Media Networks in Climate Change Politics