Bringing the Cross Pressures Thesis into the Digital Realm: Subjective Social Network Heterogeneity and Online Political Expression
Keywords:Social media, heterogeneity, political expression
Approaches to social network heterogeneity in political communication research tend to focus on the effect of accumulated interactions among individuals with different political views. This line of research has provided a number of rich insights into the nature of the relationship between sociality and political participation. At the same time, this research tradition has been hampered by inconsistent terminology, and it has not been updated to reflect the fact that the experience of engaging with politics through digital media produces a unique subjective experience wherein the user is made to address an imagined audience with a perceived set of characteristics. In this study I aim to accomplish three main objectives. First, I propose an adjustment to the conceptual framework used in the literature. Second, I introduce the concept of subjective social network heterogeneity to describe perceived heterogeneity in the political views of the imagined audience. Third, I investigate the relationship between subjective social network heterogeneity and political expression empirically, through an analysis of original survey data from Japan and South Korea. The results show that differences between the political views of an individual and the perceived political views of the imagined audience depresses political expression on social media in both countries, but that variance in the perceived views of the imagined audience is positively associated with political expression.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Matthew Jenkins
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JeDEM is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal (ISSN: 2075-9517). All journal content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Austria (CC BY 3.0) License.