Experiencing political diversity: The mobilizing effect among youth
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- Harell, A., Stolle, D. & Quintelier, E. Acta Polit (2016). doi:10.1057/ap.2016.2
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Increasing interest in the political consequences of exposure to politically divergent viewpoints has revealed contrary findings. Although there is reason to believe that politically diverse networks should mobilize people into participation, some research finds inhibiting or negative effects on political participation. In recent work, this discrepancy has been explained by different measures of political diversity. In this article, we reconsider these two perspectives and offer a theoretical synthesis of the effects of political diversity by differentiating between individual and collective characteristics of different participatory acts. Drawing on the Canadian Youth Study, we test these assumptions among young people, who are particularly susceptible to peer influence. The results show that young people, who report higher levels of interpersonal political diversity are more likely to be engaged in a variety of political acts performed individually. However, there is no evidence that political diversity negatively affects more collective forms of political action that are based on face-to-face interactions. Thus, it is important to make distinctions between not only different measures of exposure to political diversity or disagreement but also the different nature of political actions that might be affected.