The Role of Media in Political Polarization| The Complex Relationship Between Media and Political Polarization: Understanding How the Media Can Affectively (De)Polarize Citizens—Introduction

Emily Kubin, Christian von Sikorski


In this introduction to the Special Section, we examine the complex relationship between media and political polarization—especially affective polarization. We consider differences in measurement and interdisciplinary perspectives. To fully understand the relationship between media and affective polarization, we must consider the people accessing media content (e.g., identities and (mis)perceptions), the media itself (e.g., source and content effects), and the interactions between media and people (e.g., media diets and behaviors). Additionally, we introduce the Complexities of Media and Affective Polarization Framework to provide an overview of current perspectives in media and affective polarization research. We call on scholars to calibrate measurements of affective polarization to increase clarity and further assess the complexities of media and affective polarization research. Further research should assess how media can reduce affective polarization.


affective polarization, social media, news media

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