«Polarizing Communication as Media Effects on Antagonists. Understanding Communication in Conflicts in Digital Media Societies»

In many democracies, political discourse has polarized and become more confrontational. This discourse is shaped by few highly visible activists who are also heavy news consumers. This article proposes to investigate media effects on opinion-leading antagonists’ communication in political controversies. Integrating several media psychological mechanisms, it proposes that antagonists watch mainstream news on their cause closely and perceive it as hostile. By way of triggering certain cognitive, emotional and behavioral reactions, the hostile media perceptions encourage antagonists to intensify their discursive participation and to use polarizing communication styles, such as exaggerations, incivility or lies. The basic claim is that effects of mainstream news on antagonists’ communication can explain the polarization of political controversies in digital societies.
Senja Post, Communication Theory, Volume 29, Issue 2, May 2019, Pages 213–235, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ct/qty022. Original article here.