Reflection #14 – [04-17] – [Jiameng Pu]

  1. Lelkes, Y., Sood, G., & Iyengar, S. (2017). The hostile audience: The Effect of Access to Broadband Internet on Partisan Affect. American Journal of Political Science, 61(1), 5-20


Over the past fifty years, partisan animus has been increasing, the reach of partisan information sources has been expanding in the meantime. With increasing polarization on the Internet, this paper talks about identifying the impact of access to broadband Internet on affective polarization by exploiting differences in broadband availability brought about by variation in state right-of-way regulations (ROW). Lelkes et al. measured an increase in partisan hostility by collecting data from multiple resources, e.g., Federal Communication Commission (the data on broadband access), National Annenberg Election Studies(the data on the partisan effect). The author concludes that access to broadband Internet increases partisan hostility but is stable across levels of political interest.


The topic itself is intriguing, and I have had a strong feeling that people become more hostility not only in the Partisan Affect but on diverse topics in the community. People are passionate about educating people who have different opinions and values. One interesting discussion in this paper is to explore the relationship between the number of subscribers and the number of providers at the census tract level or at the zip code level. I liked the process of find convincing proxy for the measure needed in the research, which could potentially introduce more interesting findings. Although many county-level factors and indicators are examined, e.g., unemployment rate, median age, the male-to-female ratio, percent black, another view I come up with is that whether new media apps/websites people mainly use in their daily life have a significant effect on partisan polarization, because it’s intuitive that people’s viewpoints are easily influenced by specific subscribed news feed and people also tend to choose news media share the same viewpoints with them.

Besides partisan affect, this paper reminds me of people’s hostility in different communities and fields, because I feel this is the trend in today’s virtual social space regardless of topics and platforms. Like I said before, people nowadays are passionate about educating people who have different opinions and values with them, which induces unprecedented malicious discussion on the Internet and makes the access to broadband internet itself become a relatively narrow viewpoint to explore.

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