Comunicar Journal Blog

How cultural identity outweigh​ partisan​ identity in election: A response to Iyengar

maxresdefaultPartisan polarisation has long been studied by communication scholars, from conflict displacement to ideological realignment and to social identity. Individuals tend to act according to group norms if they are identified to a group, sometimes even ignore scientific facts and support policy decisions as long as the majority in the party do so. Iyengar describes this phenomenon as affective polarisation and argues partisan tend to have a hostile feeling, if not discriminate out-group members, i.e. those in other parties.To what extent can this proposition be generalized to other places or is it America-centric?
Using the 2017 Hong Kong Chief Executive Election as an example, I believe cultural identity sometimes are more important than partisan identity, and hostile feelings not only exists in mass but also elite level.
Unlike America, Hong Kong is a battlefield between two cultures. On one side it is the colony that left Hong Kong with British system and turned a small village into an international financial center, on the other is the rising Authoritarian regime. Facing the tightening grip of Beijing, many worries Hong Kong will be turned into just another ordinary city in China. The uniqueness of Hong Kong, for instance, freedom of speech and fairness of elections, are diminishing as Beijing abducted Hong Kong booksellers and interfere elections in Hong Kong.
Chief executive candidate must gain support from 1200 election committee members, where pan-democrats have less than 350 seats and pro-Beijing own a majority. Carrie Lam and John Tsang were the front runners in the election, and they have extremely similar background: both were the former members of the government (i.e. mostly support Beijing’s decision). The only difference between them is Lam had support from Beijing while Tsang did not. Pan-democrats abandoned their underlying ideological difference and supported John Tsang, who is the member of pro-Beijing.Both partisan group and cultural group exists in the city.
John Tsang was supported by pan-democrats, not because of his political identity but cultural identity: he remains British humor and unlike Chinese officials, is willing to open to (or at least to create a perception) public examination. These cultural characteristics allowed Tsang to get support from pan-democrats.While Iyengar’s framework works well in America, more discussion and study are needed to extend it to other cultural contexts, especially contest with two conflicting cultures.
Reference:
Iyengar, S., Sood, G., & Lelkes, Y. (2012). Affect, Not Ideology: A Social Identity Perspective on Polarization. Public Opinion Quarterly, 76(3), 405–431. https://doi.org/10.1093/poq/nfs038
Iyengar, S., & Westwood, S. J. (2015). Fear and Loathing across Party Lines: New Evidence on Group Polarization. American Journal of Political Science, 59(3), 690–707. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12152

Reflections on «The Emotional Impact of Traditional and New Media in Social Events»

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This research paper monitored Romanian mainstream media and social media for a month after a tragedy occurred. The fire occurred during a rock concert with 400 people in the club at the time, killing 64 and injured over 100. Minodora Salcudean and Raluca Muresan use “#Colectiv” to collect the data from the online press and from social media (mainly facebook, Instagram and twitter). The authors’ research suggests professional journalists still act as “responsible filters” when reporting the emotional tragedy. The authors believe the journalists make use of the authentic information and opinions from social media thus produce quality news report when covering a fire tragedy.

This research could be more comprehensive if the authors could take the impact of the picture into account when investigating how journalists use social media as a source and how emotional items are being quoted. As mentioned by the authors, social media is a cheap and convenient source of information, particularly in terms of citizen’s opinion and image-on-site. The latter is essential to the news report of tragedy, as 1) media might not have the resources or time to report onsite during the occurrence of tragedy; 2) news report with pictures, especially when related to victimization and emotions, are often found to have a greater popularity when compared to reports without images. Journalists could, therefore, be more likely to include images than text in their reports of tragedy.

Information from social media is a double-edged sword. Acquiring information is one thing, verifying is another. In the social media (and citizen journalism) era, fact-checking has never been so important for journalists. Journalism is valued due to credibility. Speed should not be a substitute for accuracy. The result suggested by this research is optimistic; whether it is the overall trends of journalism practices need to be examined in other countries, as well as in non-tragic daily life period.

 

Reference:
Minodora Salcudean and Raluca Muresan. “The Emotional Impact of Traditional and New Media in Social Events.” Comunicar, 50 (2017).