DescriptionAffective Polarization Around the World: Measurement, Causes and Consequences
|Period||17 May 2021 → 28 May 2021|
|Degree of Recognition||International|
Documents & Links
Affective polarization is the difference between positive in-group bias towards the party someone supports and negative out-group bias towards other parties. Research on such affective polarization has grown very quickly in the United States, reflecting the current state of partisan conflict in that country. Despite the tremendous interest that affective polarization raises in USA (and more recently globally – e.g. Carlin et al. 2018, Boxell et al. 2020), we are only very recently seeing a growth of research on this topic in Europe. This is probably due to the fact that this type of polarization is an intuitive notion in two-party systems, where there are only two (viable) options, and a clear set of in- and out-groups (closely connected to the conceptualization of affective polarization). This is less obvious in multi-party systems, where very often a left-right ideological continuum is present on which several parties tend to position themselves. This different setting has made European scholars focus their attention on related, yet conceptually different ways of seeing political divisions, e.g. the rich literature on extremist parties (e.g. Mudde, 2013). Affective polarization, however, is a phenomenon that deserves more attention because of its direct societal implications: increased partisan bias, but also increased emotional reactivity and increased activism (Mason 2018). Recent research have shown that affective polarization in Europe is similarly strong, at least in the cases of Belgium, Spain and the UK (Westwood et al. 2018) as well as Germany (Helbling and Jungkunz 2019). In addition, researchers have proposed ways of measuring and assessing affective polarization worldwide using existing survey data (Reiljan 2019, Wagner 2020). Work on a related concept, negative partisanship, has also gained renewed interest (e.g. Mayer 2017). It is already clear that affective polarization is an important, innovative concept that will be the focus of much research in the coming years in Europe and beyond. While we now know that affective polarization is a topic that deserves at least the same attention that has enjoyed in USA, we still know little about its causes and consequences, particularly in a comparative context. Questions of measurement also remain under-explored outside the USA. Overall, as this nascent research field is still in its infancy, the researchers working in this area do not yet have strong connections to each other. There is thus an urgent need for this Workshop. As affective polarization is a recent topic, the lack of a solid and well-based research network is hampering the development of ideas and co-operations. A Workshop would constitute a first fundamental step in creating these connections and fostering collaboration. This is particularly important in the context of COVID19 where other venues for broad exchange (e.g. conferences) cannot fulfil this function. This is also an ideal time for this Workshop as many researchers are currently starting to work on topics relating to affective polarization, negative partisanship and partisan prejudice. It is important at this stage to exchange ideas on the key research agendas and to foster exchange on questions of measurement and theoretical assumptions.