In a previous essay, I speculated on the effect of media on citizens. In this essay, I extend that discussion to consider how social interaction is intertwined with media effects. Furthermore, since reasonable communication and deliberation are norms we associate with republican or deliberative democracy, I also examine how social interaction among citizens affects our views on democracy.
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See Walsh (2004) for a counter-perspective to the top-down approach I am describing here. Walsh (or as she is more commonly known-Cathy Kramer) advocates for a bottom-up approach to supplement our understanding of elite-driven discourse (p.8). While I am willing to concede her point, she does not give any indication of how much is bottom-up versus top-down, only that they both matter. My untested expectation is that it is probably something like at 80/20 split towards the elite/media driven approach I put forward. Very few people in my experience come up with political talking points independently of what they hear from elites or read/view in the media.↩︎
To be clear, Druckman et al. are NOT arguing that heterogenous discussion groups reduce polarization, only that the effect of polarization in heterogeneous groups is smaller than in homogenous groups. Indeed, in their work, they find that compared to the control group who received no partisan exposure, those who participated in the heterogenous group discussion who also received no partisan exposure from media showed greater levels of polarization (p.108).↩︎