Ideological polarization over a China-as-superpower mind-set

An exploratory charting of belief systems among Chinese internet users, 2008-2011

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study explores ideological polarization among Chinese Internet users by examining both the structure of local belief systems and temporal changes of opinions. It implements research tools investigating voters' cognition and behavior in democratic societies, including those concerning Internet use and political polarization. To probe this sensitive terrain, it employs network and relational class analysis to a unique historical data set: online records of the Chinese Political Compass self-assessment (2008-2011). Results demonstrate that the overarching ideological division of the Chinese Internet is split between nationalism and cultural liberalism. Groups of "ideologues" and "agnostics" that differentially contributed to overall rapid polarization are also identified. The study further speculates how, in nondemocratic societies, Internet use may influence people's political views through different mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2650-2679
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
Volume8
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

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polarization
Internet
Polarization
China
self-assessment
liberalism
society
nationalism
cognition
Group

Keywords

  • Belief system
  • China
  • Internet
  • Nationalism
  • Polarization
  • Public opinion
  • Semantic network

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

Cite this

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abstract = "This study explores ideological polarization among Chinese Internet users by examining both the structure of local belief systems and temporal changes of opinions. It implements research tools investigating voters' cognition and behavior in democratic societies, including those concerning Internet use and political polarization. To probe this sensitive terrain, it employs network and relational class analysis to a unique historical data set: online records of the Chinese Political Compass self-assessment (2008-2011). Results demonstrate that the overarching ideological division of the Chinese Internet is split between nationalism and cultural liberalism. Groups of {"}ideologues{"} and {"}agnostics{"} that differentially contributed to overall rapid polarization are also identified. The study further speculates how, in nondemocratic societies, Internet use may influence people's political views through different mechanisms.",
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AB - This study explores ideological polarization among Chinese Internet users by examining both the structure of local belief systems and temporal changes of opinions. It implements research tools investigating voters' cognition and behavior in democratic societies, including those concerning Internet use and political polarization. To probe this sensitive terrain, it employs network and relational class analysis to a unique historical data set: online records of the Chinese Political Compass self-assessment (2008-2011). Results demonstrate that the overarching ideological division of the Chinese Internet is split between nationalism and cultural liberalism. Groups of "ideologues" and "agnostics" that differentially contributed to overall rapid polarization are also identified. The study further speculates how, in nondemocratic societies, Internet use may influence people's political views through different mechanisms.

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