Cross-Ideological Discussions among Conservative and Liberal Bloggers

Authors: Eszter Hargittai, Jason Gallo, Matthew Kane

Link: PDF (515 KB)

Citation: Hargittai, E., Gallo, J., & Kane, M. (2008). Cross-Ideological Discussions among Conservative and Liberal Bloggers. Public Choice. 134:67-86.

Abstract

With the increasing spread of information technologies and their potential to filter content, some have argued that people will abandon the reading of dissenting political opinions in favor of material that is closely aligned with their own ideological position. We test this theory empirically by analyzing both quantitatively and qualitatively Web links among the writings of top conservative and liberal bloggers. Given our use of novel methods, we discuss in detail our sampling and data collection methodologies. We find that widely read political bloggers are much more likely to link to others who share their political views. However, we find no increase in this pattern over time. We also analyze the content of the links and find that while many of the links are based on straw-man arguments, bloggers across the political spectrum also address each others? writing substantively, both in agreement and disagreement.

Outline

  • Introduction
  • The Internet and political communication
  • The fragmenting versus diversifying potential of information technologies
  • The rise and relevance of political blogs
  • Hypotheses
  • Studying blog content
    • Defining our population
    • Identifying our sample
    • Data collection
    • Data coding
    • Sample descriptives
    • Methods of analysis
  • Cross-ideological linkages in the political blogosphere
    • Blogroll connections
  • The nature of discussions across ideological lines
    • The added value of qualitative analysis
    • Types of links
    • The context of linking among political blogs
  • Conclusion

Acknowledgments

We thank the Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems for its support of this project. We appreciate Paul Starr's encouragement of the study, and the assistance we received from Valdis Krebs and Vanessa Pineda. We are grateful to the authors and readers of the Crooked Timber blog for their input, as well as feedback from the editors of this issue. The first author also acknowledges the support of the Northwestern University Communication Studies Department Research Fund, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Lenore Annenberg andWallis Annenberg Fellowship in Communication.

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