Participation in Contentious Politics: Rethinking the Roles of News, Social Media, and Conversation Amid Divisiveness

Leticia Bode*, Stephanie Edgerly, Chris Wells, Itay Gabay, Charles Franklin, Lew Friedland, Dhavan V. Shah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


When political disputes devolve into heated partisan conflicts, do the factors known to trigger electoral political engagement continue to operate, or do they change? We consider this question during a divisive electoral context—a gubernatorial recall—focusing on how media consumption, conversations, and interactions with social media feed into the decision to participate in politics. To do so, we employ high-quality survey data collected in the weeks before the 2012 Wisconsin recall election. Results indicate that during times of contentious politics, political communication does not operate as observed in less polarized settings, calling into question widely held assumptions about what spurs and suppresses electoral participation. Most notably, we find that broadcast news consumption negatively predicts participation, whereas political conversation with coworkers and use of political social media positively predict participation. The implications for electoral behavior research in contentious political environments are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-229
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Information Technology and Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2018


  • Social media
  • U.S. elections
  • Wisconsin
  • polarization
  • recall elections
  • voting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


Dive into the research topics of 'Participation in Contentious Politics: Rethinking the Roles of News, Social Media, and Conversation Amid Divisiveness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this