A100. Brundidge, J. & Rice, R. E. (2009). Political engagement online: Do the information rich get richer and the like-minded become more similar?  In A. Chadwick & P. N. Howard (Eds.), The handbook of Internet politics (pp. 144-156). London and New York: Routledge.


Due to both cognitive and traditional media processes, especially those relating to the knowledge gap, agenda setting and framing, the internet seems to reinforce rather than significantly change established patterns of individuals’ political communication and engagement. A new area for research, however, is the extent to which the internet contributes to one particular form of political engagement: political discussion among heterogeneous networks of citizens. While it may be that the “information rich” continue to get “richer,” it is far less clear that the politically “similar” continue to become more “similar”. This chapter thus discusses research on the extent to which internet use affects individual-level political engagement and examines the possible role of the internet in exposing people to politically dissimilar others. A sample analysis follows, which finds that online political discussion is significantly and positively associated with politically heterogeneous individual discussion networks. Finally, the discussion considers normative implications and future research concerning political landscapes with varying interactions between knowledge gaps and heterogeneous political discussion. 

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