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Revista SAAP

On-line version ISSN 1853-1970


WAISBORD, SILVIO. Is it Valid to Attribute Political Polarization to Digital Communication? On Bubbles, Platforms and Affective Polarization. Revista SAAP [online]. 2020, vol.14, n.2, pp.248-279. ISSN 1853-1970.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between public communication and contemporary political polarization. From a review of recent global literature, it is proposed that polarization is the product of the combination of political and communication phenomena. It is wrong to understand polarization as a product solely associated with trends in digital communication. It is necessary to recognize the move towards more extreme positions of populisms and the loss and fragmentation of moderate positions (left or right) as well as the role of «traditional» media in fostering affective polarization. The overrepresentation of strong political feelings coupled with the mobilizing power of social and cultural cleavages deepens binary oppositions. Polarization as a political and media strategy pays off. In today’s mediated communication, appealing to polarizing discourse pays off either in terms of audience and publicity as well as symbolic compensation on digital platforms - followers, popularity, relevance. Likewise, inequality in political participation, inclined in favor of people with strong partisan and ideological feelings, and the popularity of information media that aim to feed and stir up such feelings also underpin polarization.

Keywords : Polarization; digital media; public communication; populism; disinformation.

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