Evidence of political moderation over time: Utah’s immigration debate online
Deliberative democracy, discourse, immigration, online forums, polarization, public sphere
Is public debate on the Internet polarizing? Some scholars warn that the Internet is an ‘anti-commons’ where political positions are extreme, while others view the Internet as a moderating influence on political polarization. We examine polarization trends in a regional, Utah-based news website, with a random sample of 1768 comments over a two-year period. Focusing on the most contentious issue during this time—immigration—we find that extreme anti-immigrant sentiment decreases over time despite key political and religious events. We argue that emerging public spheres, like newspaper discussion forums, might reveal a general public inclination towards moderation during heated national and regional debate.
Original Publication Citation
Harris*, Brian, Charlie V. Morgan and Benjamin G. Gibbs. “Evidence of Political Moderation over Time: Utah’s Immigration Debate On-Line” New Media and Society 16:1309-1331.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Harris, Brian D.; Morgan, Charlie V.; and Gibbs, Benjamin G., "Evidence of political moderation over time: Utah’s immigration debate online" (2013). All Faculty Publications. 2854.
New Media & Society
Family, Home, and Social Sciences
© The Author(s) 2013