In recent years, Asian countries with diverse political and cultural systems have encountered various kinds of socio-political polarization situations. New media and online technologies foster like-minded people to develop virtual communities for sharing perspectives and reinforcing similar beliefs. Although the openness of the Internet allows individuals to receive different ideas, the formation of polarization could worsen under the circumstances of selective exposure on fragmental ideologies and information through online social media networks. Those who dwell in information cocoons tend to filter dissents, firmly believe in specific world views, and go to extremes. New media algorithms functioning as filter bubbles have been criticized as contributing to worsening social-political polarization as these black-box machinery mechanisms predetermine users’ exposure to information they tend to like or enjoy and develop filter bubbles to reduce chances to encounter different opinions.
In the context of political communication, media are used as tools for social management and sometimes as weapons in social conflicts. Scholars have devoted significant energies to study mass media effects in elite communication, messaging and advertising by political parties and paid increasing attention to examine the impacts of social media and new technologies on election campaigns and public opinion formation. Two major research strands in political communication are agenda-setting theory and framing theory: the former addresses the importance of media topics, while the latter focuses on the way that media structure the information they convey. Through algorithmic customization, social media use involves complexity of multi-stakeholders’ agenda-setting and framing forces is regarded as effective weaponized tools to influentially shape ideology, identity and socio-political polarization. When people who expose to homogeneous views through political communication, they believe their thoughts similar to the majority, which deepens the gaps among different political parties or social groups and thus cause political turmoil and societal chao.
The special issue focuses on the phenomenon of socio-political polarization, with perspectives from political communication, social media impact and digital governance. We invite papers that analyze the causes, distribution, and impact of political polarization related to social media, algorithm, fake news, political participation, issue position, and ideology, etc., by various methods and approaches such as survey data, big data, content analysis, and comparative studies. Additionally, we warmly welcome manuscripts that address the questions of media’s agenda-setting and framing issues and their influences on political communication and socio-political polarization. We are interested in the extent to which various organizations and institutions promoting specific agendas alone or in a coordinated fashion. In particular, we hope to grapple with the cause and consequence of polarization with understanding. The combination of mass media, the emergence of social media designed to target sub-population, and the development of algorithms capable of systematically manipulating the fabric of the internet all highlight new opportunities for political and social actors seeking to manipulate public opinions. This special issue invites manuscripts that will enhance the understanding as well as prevent or alleviate polarization of public opinions and will contribute to provide insights for policy making and political communication campaign so as to promote social harmony and sustainability. Overall, we believe this special issue will provide important empirical insights regarding the reach of contemporary polarization.
Topics of interest include, but are not limited to the following:
- Socio-political Polarization: Detection of latent public opinion, effects of digital technology on attitudes and behaviors, causes and consequences of political polarization, and related discussions of political polarization, etc.
- Social Media effects: Governance and communication interaction, fake news issue, echo chamber effect, campaign strategies on Internet, press freedom, political polarization and social media use, etc.
- Political Communication: news media and political communication, governance and communication interaction, political polarization and social media usage, fake news, echo chamber effect, and algorithm, etc.
- Digital Governance: Political attitudes of government bureaucrats, political polarization, digitalization and governance, etc.
- Media agenda-setting and framing theories