SEMINAR: “If you are going to talk like that I don’t want to participate. Experimental evidence on the effects of debate on political inequalities”

Berta Barbet (UAB)

26th february 15:30h, Sala de Juntes Facultat de Ciències Polítiques i Sociologia de la UAB or Teams (link)

Having spaces of debate where citizens express their political preferences in equal conditions and public officials can learn from them is key for democratic representation. For that reason, the literature has dedicated great efforts to understand the social, political and economic circumstances that disincentivise participation of certain groups, potentially creating political inequalities. Nonetheless, the impact of the content and tone of the debate on these dynamics is still quite understudied. Using a survey experiment run in a sample of Spanish citizens, this project test the impact on the willingness to express preferences on three different formats of three features of the debate: the civility, the presence of partisan cues, and the presence of other easy subjects of debate. It does so differentiating between traditionally mobilised or demobilised individuals It shows that, that contrary to the expectations, partisan and mediatic debates cues reduce existing gaps in propensity to vote and take stance on a survey item, albeit they have a limited impact in propensity to make a comment on a conversation. Furthermore, although uncivil debates tend to reduce participation, their effects on furthering or reducing differences between groups are unclear because they vary depending on the activity considered.

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