The growth of internet communication has affected deliberative democracy by introducing new public spheres. One emerging public sphere is the discussion forum linked to online news sources. By analyzing 1,768 comments posted to a regional online news website, I discuss five key frameworks that commenters used to simplify the debate over immigration. I also find that extreme comments decreased in frequency over a two-year period while more moderate comments increased. In light of group polarization theory, this finding suggests that the forum is more like a single community with a fairly moderate average position to which people with differing opinions converge, rather than a divided community consisting of two distinct groups, each polarizing toward more extreme positions. The forum appears to have moderated itself in response to triggers of discourse change by means of temporary reframing of arguments. I develop a theoretical framework for understanding how group interactions produce self-regulatory behavior that can prevent polarized discourse.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Sociology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Harris, Brian David, "Democracy Online: Immigration Discourse over Time" (2011). All Theses and Dissertations. 2791.
democracy, discourse, economy, frame analysis, immigration, polarization, religion