transfer 17(3) » Sonstiges

Disagreement within Personal Networks

Theory and Current Results

Motivated by the essential role of pluralistic societies for a prosperous democracy, the thesis focuses on understanding the process involving face-to-face deliberative encounters within personal networks. Since deliberation implies a multitude of variables, the focus is set on one necessary aspect, namely, disagreement. For this, the paper assesses the potential sociostructural determinants able to facilitate close contact among people of diverse political views. It also concentrates on the consequences triggered by exposure to heterogeneous networks. Hence, some relevant questions arise: what triggers disagreement among personal networks, do people seek or avoid such encounters, and what kinds of consequences are caused by exposure to diverse perspectives? To this end, the paper seeks to assess if the normative indications of deliberative theory coincide with those of empirical research.
Findings describe an interaction between societal determinants and individual-level features. While people are inclined to talk more with like-minded ones, many of them are exposed to environments that foster divergent views. Also, although experiencing disagreement inclines to bring forward deliberative democratic processes, the same mechanism can likewise diminish the willingness to participate in politics. Thus, evidence shows that in practice matters are more complicated than in theory. And still, scientists point towards a possible solution for solving this democratic dilemma.