Does Relational Polarization Entail Ideological Polarization? The Case of the 2017 Norwegian Election Campaign on Twitter

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This article investigates different polarizing mechanisms—relational homophily and ideological partisanship—characterizing political communications using Twitter data collected during the 2017 Norwegian election. By combining two computational approches—partition-specific network analysis and quantitative analysis of language polarization—we can examine the linkages between the structure of interactions and political polarization. The results show that the Norwegian political Twittersphere is not made of isolated echo chambers but is structured around crosscutting communities of interaction. There are no signs that communities with higher degrees of polarization are the ones that display higher degrees of homophily. Yet, the degree of ideological polarization differs across communities and topics. Some topics, such as political hate and far right and economy and taxes, are more polarized than others.

International Journal of Communication
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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.