MCRC “Future of Political Communication Research” Symposium on Tuesday, April 14

This coming Tuesday, April 14 at 3-4:30 PM, the Mass Communication Research Center will host it’s second “Future of Political Communication Research” Symposium in the Nafziger Conference Room of Vilas Hall.  The symposium will center on questions of political contentiousness and polarized politics, and the role of mass communications as factors contributing to hostility.

The featured speakers will be Yphtach Lelkes, Assistant Professor of Political Communication at the University of Amsterdam, and Franziska Marquart, Junior Researcher of Communication at the University of Vienna.  Lewis Friedland, Vilas Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Communication and Democracy, will serve as a third panelist and discussant for the symposium. Presentations will be followed by a Q&A period.  

The Hostile Audience: The Effect of Access to Broadband Internet on Partisan Hostility / Yphtach Lelkes

Abstract: Over the last two decades, as the number of media choices available to consumers has exploded, so too have worries over potentially adverse consequences of self-selection into media audiences. Some fear greater apathy, others heightened polarization. In this paper, we shed light on the latter possibility. We identify the impact of access to broadband Internet on affective polarization by exploiting differences in broadband availability brought about by variation in state right-of-way regulations (ROW). We merge state-level regulation data with county-level broadband penetration data and a large-N sample of survey data from 2004 to 2008 and find that access to broadband Internet increases partisan hostility. The effect is stable over time and across levels of political interest. We also find that access to broadband Internet boosts partisans’ consumption of partisan media, a likely cause of increased polarization.

Bio: Yphtach Lelkes is an Assistant Professor of Political Communication at the University of Amsterdam. His main focus is on the role of the political information environment in structuring attitudes. He also studies  (mostly American) public opinion, with a particular interest in polarization, ideology, and political identity. He received his PhD from Stanford University, his Master’s from Temple University, and his BA from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals across disciplines, including PNAS, the British Journal of Political Science, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Psychology, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Right-Wing Populist Ads and Their Targets: Anti-immigrant Messages and Attitudes Toward Foreigners / Franziska Marquart 

Abstract: Right-wing populist parties have been on the rise in numerous Western European countries during the past decades, yet hardly research has been concerned with their political advertising strategies. The thesis addresses two main question: 1) Which strategies are employed in right-wing populist ads, especially with regard to anti-immigrant and racial content? 2) What are the effects of right-wing populists’ anti-immigrant messages on attitudes toward foreigners? Combining a quantitative content analysis and experimental designs, the studies find right-wing populist advertising to be successful in negatively influencing citizens’ attitudes toward immigrants. These effects are independent of political predisposition and especially affect individuals with lower formal education. However, even higher educated citizens are prone to influence by the ads on the level of implicit as opposed to explicit attitudes.

Bio: Franziska Marquart is a Ph.D. Candidate and Junior Researcher at the Department of Communication at the University of Vienna, Austria. From 2005 until 2011, she was a student of Communication Sciences and Philosophy at the University of Erfurt, Germany. Her main interests focus on visual and political communication, empirical methods, research on media reception and effects as well as on right-wing populism and political advertising. Her work has been published in Communication Research, the Journal of Media Psychology, Communications, as well as Publizistik and the Austrian Journal of Political Science.