DIGITAL PLATFORMS AND ISSUE POLARISATION: CITIZENS' DEBATES ON ABORTION, RACIAL QUOTAS AND SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN BRAZIL FROM 2021-2019

The relationship between digital platforms and political polarisation has gained priority attention from scholars in the last two decades.


About this event


Digital platforms have become the main mediators of public debate: it is where citizens, social movements, activists, journalists, experts and political representatives discuss topics of common interest. The relationship between digital platforms and political polarisation has gained priority attention from scholars in the last two decades, but the empirical evidence is complex and ambiguous: while some research shows, for example, how specific characteristics of digital platforms lead to fragmentation of the public, other research shows that the use of platforms actually helps people to have contact and dialogue with diverse opinions. This is an important topic in Brazil today because in the last decade we began (returned?) to face a specific type of polarisation: one in which divergent groups face an absence of common ground and they see each other as deep-seated enemies.


Two events mark this process: the huge protests of June 2013 (where protesters were located in different parts of the political spectrum), and the election of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018 (where we saw the prominence of conservative groups, which were away from the public scene since the Military Dictatorship). 

Bolsonaro explicitly opposes dialogue between different positions, saying, for example, that "minorities must bow to the majority". In this presentation, I show how abortion, racial quotas and homosexual marriage were discussed by citizens on Facebook from 2012 to 2019. These are typically controversial topics, and they play a leading role in disputes between progressives and conservatives in Brazilian political conflicts over the last decade.


Tariq Choucair is a PhD candidate in the Communication Graduation Program at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (Brazil). Tariq studies reciprocity and polarisation in online debates on controversial issues. He has been a member of the Media and Public Sphere Research Group for 9 years, working with the group on research projects such as “Deliberative System and Social Conflicts” and “The potential of deliberation in divided societies”. Tariq's work is published in Political Studies, Political Research Exchange and E-COMPOS.


Seminar series convenors Hans Asenbaum and Sahana Sehgal.


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