How Political Disagreement Leads To Participation: Comparing The First-Time Voters In The Case of 2014 Midterm

Hyunkyung Oh

Major Professor: Kevin B Wright, PhD, Department of Communication

Committee Members: Katherine E. Rowan, Emily K. Vraga

Research Hall, #162
December 15, 2015, 11:00 AM to 08:00 AM


This study proposes disagreements in political discourses can be a facilitator of political participation, and mediated-communication via social media encourages this tendency. It has a twofold purpose: (1) to understand the relationship between political disagreements and participation in the interpersonal communication level, particularly within strong-tie versus weak-tie networks, and (2) to understand the differences of disagreements people experience in face to face and online in influencing political participation. To explain this phenomenon as well as to examine it in a real time politics targeting 2014 election in the United States, it reviews literature in the areas of political communication focusing on the cross-pressures hypothesis, political discourse in online public sphere, and political participation in digital era. To clarify the cross-pressure effects, the concept of strong ties and weak ties will be discussed. Based on this literature review, first two sets of hypotheses will be tested focusing on “with whom voters disagree—within strong-tie networks or weak-tie networks,” and then the other two sets of hypotheses will be tested focusing on “where voters disagree—face to face or on social media.” Quantitative research method was employed, and two different samples were used for testing hypotheses: first, the college students sample represents the first-time voters, and second, the Amazon MTurk sample represents more experienced voters.