Title

Evidence of political moderation over time: Utah’s immigration debate online

Keywords

Deliberative democracy, discourse, immigration, online forums, polarization, public sphere

Abstract

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.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2013-09-24

Publisher

New Media & Society

Language

English

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Department

Sociology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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