Reflection #14 – [4/17] – Aparna Gupta

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 Science61(1), 5-20.

This article talks about the impact of broadband access on the polarization by exploiting the differences in broadband availability brought about by variation in state right-of-way (ROW). To measure an increase in partisan hostility the authors merged state-level regulation data with county-level broadband penetration data and a large-N sample of survey data from 2004 to 2008. The data is acquired from multiple sets of datasets like data on right-of-way laws come from previous research work by Beyer and Kende, the data on broadband access is from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), the data on the partisan effect is collected from National Annenberg Election Studies (2004 and 2008) and, the media data is collected from comScore.

The study was interesting however I have a few concerns like, why have the authors considered only broadband penetration as a measure to analyze the partisan Affect or polarization in an era where people always have internet connection on their mobile phones or tablets? and have they considered the geographic locations where getting a high-speed internet connection is still an issue as stated in this article ( Does this mean people in these areas are less polarized?

The author also claims that access to broadband Internet boosts partisan’s consumption of partisan media. I wonder if Isn’t this quite obvious? since a person will tend to consume news he/she is more inclined towards. There is a plethora of free information available on the Internet ready to be consumed by people of any age group, any political inclination, and  any region. Can there be a scenario where being exposed to the fire hose of information (through broadband) influenced people to change their polarization?





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