Homophily and polarization on political twitter during the 2017 Norwegian election

Image credit: Unsplash


Ideological homophily on social media has been receiving increased scholarly interest, as it is associated with the forma- tion of filter bubbles, echo chambers, and increased ideological polarization. And yet, no linkage necessarily exists between ideological homophily, echo chambers, and polarization. Despite political interactions on social media taking place to a large extent between like-minded individuals, cross-cutting interactions are also frequent. Using Twitter data, we investigated the extent to which ideological homophily, echo chambers, and polarization occur together and characterize the network of political Twitter users during the 2017 election in Norway. Despite the presence of some degree of ideological homophily, we did not find evidence of echo chambers in the Norwegian political Twittersphere during the 2017 election. And yet, the retweet network is characterized by a significant degree of polarization across ideological blocs. Our findings support the thesis according to which polarization on social media may have drivers other than the technological deterministic effect of social media affordances enhancing the formation of online echo chambers.

Social Network Analysis and Mining
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Bernard Enjolras
Research Professor at The Institute for Social research in Oslo and the Director of the Center for Research on Civil Society and Voluntary Sector.

My research interests include volunteering, voluntary organizations, governance, social capital and trust, civic engagement as well as the digitization of the public sphere, social media and freedom of expression.