Breakdowns in Mediated Conversations: How and Why Youth Exit Cross-cutting Political Talk on Social Media

Date
2022-01-04
Authors
Lee, Ashley
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Abstract
Social media platforms are arguably reshaping how youth participate in politics today, but little is known about how youth navigate cross-cutting talk with different-minded others online. Based on in-depth interviews, this study examines the discursive strategies civic-minded youth employ to talk politics across lines of political difference on social media. Applying Hirschman (1970) to informal political talk, this study surfaces young people’s “voice” and “exit” strategies in cross-cutting political talk. Findings suggest that civic youth are well-versed in elements of rational deliberative discourse. However, youth appear to struggle when it comes to relational discourse that emphasizes reciprocity and relational listening. Youth tended to exit from political talk with different-minded others on social media. The low barriers for exit from cross-cutting talk on social media, combined with various psychosocial, dispositional factors, raise concerns about young people’s premature exits from democratic engagement on social media.
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Mediated Conversation, disagreement, online conflict, political talk, social media, youth
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