Does the Battle Ever End? Negative Interaction between Political Actors outside of and during Campaigns. 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

In recent years, we have witnessed a notable rise in citizens' dissatisfaction with politics. One of the causes is the negativity between political actors, which has been shown to lower political trust, cause polarisation, etc. Even though its effects are known, little attention is given to the mere occurrence of such negativity. Most studies look at negativity from a one-side angle during specific campaigns. We lack insight into the various dimensions of negativity that occur in political interactions, and little to no evidence exists about its prevalence in non-campaign periods across countries and different venues. By contrast, this project's goal is to study the negative interaction among political actors considering its various forms (incivility, emotionality, etc.) in a longitudinal study outside of and during campaigns across contemporary and traditional communication channels. I will look for explanations on different levels, trying to gain a scientific understanding of the types of negativity and instances in which they take place by looking at trends over time and the differences between venues, countries, and issues. The analysis will be based on data from Belgium, Croatia, and the UK, looking at the interactions that took place in parliament, on social media, and in traditional news media between 2000 and 2020. The project's output will allow us to become aware under which factors negativity occurs, allowing to challenge and remedy its potential extensive use.

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Research team(s)

In Times of Peace, Prepare for War: Negative Interaction Between Political Actors outside and during Campaigns. 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2020

Abstract

In recent years we have witnessed a significant rise in citizens' dissatisfaction with politics. One of the causes is the negativity between political actors, that has been shown to decrease participation in elections, lower political trust, and give rise to polarisation. Despite the fact that the effects of negativity in politics are well known, little is known about the occurrence of negativity—or even incivility—itself. Most studies focus exclusively on negativity in election campaigns and on a single country/election case. By contrast, this project will tackle negative interactions between political actors in a longitudinal study in three countries outside and during of electoral campaigns. My objective is to study negativity, basically defined as any criticism or attack directed towards a political competitor, in a multidimensional way (taking into account the type, content, specificity and extremity of the attack). I will look for explanations on different levels, trying to come to a scientific understanding of when negativity occurs, by looking at trends over time and differences between actors, issues, venues and countries. An analysis will be based on data from Belgium, Croatia, and the United Kingdom; looking at the actors' interactions that took place in parliament and media during the period of 1990-2020. The project output will allow to speculate about which factors could remedy the extensive use of negativity.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)