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Disappearing Discourse: Qualitative Analysis of Social Network Dynamics that Affect Political Discussions

Introduction: In today’s political climate, Americans tend to find themselves identifying with one political party and viewing the opposite party as the “other.” To offer first insights into this phenomenon, the research focused on better understanding intragroup dynamics that may affect people’s willingness to have political conversations across the “divide.” Methods: 15 students from a large regional university in the South were interviewed using an unstructured interview format. Interviews were informed by grounded theory, and focused on the content, nature, and outcomes of the students’ political conversations. All interviews were recorded and transcribed using a QSR’s AI-based transcription service. These transcriptions then were proofread, coded, and finally analyzed in NVIVO 12.0 using an inductive-deductive coding approach. Results: Preliminary findings of the interviews suggest three main aspects may affect the nature of political conversations: potential obstacles, network facilitators, and network settings. Students may face potential obstacles such as being sanctioned or outcast by others within their networks for their opinions. The beliefs and attitudes of an individual within one's social network group and the setting in which these conversations would take place also seems to impact the students’ willingness to engage in difficult discussions and shape the nature of political conversations within the group. Discussion and Conclusion: Theoretical explanations may be developed and discussed using an interactionist theory framework. Implications for future research may be discussed as well.

Keywords: political discourse, network dynamics, ideological divide, communication


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • Sociology & Human Services

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
  • Event date
    • 26 March 2021

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Tony Zschau