Disagreement in Political Discussion

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Normative theory extols the virtues of disagreement to democracy, but evidence to support these suppositions is somewhat mixed. This chapter reviews the empirical literature on exposure to disagreement that occurs in ordinary political conversations among citizens. After outlining conceptual distinctions and operational definitions in the literature, the main section highlights both the agreed-upon and contested findings on the consequences of disagreement, including opinion quality, political tolerance, attitudinal ambivalence, knowledge gains, polarization, and participatory outcomes. The concluding section points to unanswered questions and proposes several directions for future research on disagreement. These include exploring factors that shape receptivity to disagreement, such as individual differences, situational cues, the content of verbal exchanges, and cross-national differences in political institutions, media systems, or cultural preference for outspokenness.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Political Communication
EditorsKate Kenski, Kathleen Hall Jamieson
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9780199793488
ISBN (Print)9780199793471
StatePublished - 2014


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