Social isolering. En studie om åsiktspolarisering och normativ press i sociala medier
The purpose of this study was to look for tendencies that social media can contribute to exposing users to a stronger perception of opinion polarization, and further to see if the daily presence of social networking sites can put normative pressure on the users. The study was made using a survey with participants from Umeå University during the time frame of november-december 2014. The theoretical framework behind the study was mainly drawn from The Spiral Of Silence by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann and was further supplemented with more current research, studying the effects from The Spiral Of Silence in the modern and more fragmented media landscape that exists now then when her theory was written. Further theoretical tools for analysis of the results came from Michel Foucault and his discussions in Discipline and punish, specifically his views on how surveillance can be discontinous in practice, but still permanent in it’s effects.
The results of this study indicates that social media users tend to isolate themselves from uncomfortable opinions, and do not follow or read opinions they do not already agree with. This indicates that social media plattforms can function as a contributor to opinion polarization among the users, and this study argues that the behavioural patterns of the most frequent users increases that tendency. Further more the study showed that a smaller network of friends seems to increase the users perception of normative pressures, and that user activity is correlated to how frequent they self-censor posts before- and after they are published.
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