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Inside the echo chamber: A qualitative study on anti-immigration internet media, political polarization and social trust in a fragmented digital landscape
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Media and Communication Studies.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

“Filter bubble” became one of the most topical words of 2016 and it was even included in the Swedish Language Council's list of new Swedish words that was presented at the end of the year. Referring to algorithmically adapted media bubbles, this phenomenon has particularly been discussed in relation to the UK Brexit referendum and the US election as scholars and journalist argue that the phenomenon, in combination with a fragmented media usage, contribute to a political polarization where each side of the political spectrum is encapsulated in “echo chambers” where opinions and beliefs are repeated like an echo rather than contested and challenged. 

In a Swedish context, filter bubbles and echo chambers have mainly been discussed in relation to anti-immigration internet media (AIIM), such as Avpixlat, Fria Tider and Exponerat, as these, through their critique of established journalistic media's (EJM) reporting, appear to constitute one side of a polarized debate around immigration. Through online interviews with 13 users of AIIM, this thesis is aimed at understanding why people consume such media and if the consumers are affected by echo chambers. 

Drawing on theories on online echo chambers and radical media critique, the study's findings suggest that even though the respondents’ appear to thrive on a siege mentality where anti-immigration groups are excluded sub-groups with AIIM as their only solution, the respondents' consumption of AIIM (and critique of EJM) is more likely to be based on a combination of a low level of trust in society and strong political (right-wing) beliefs. Furthermore, the study shows that the respondents are likely to be affected by both fragmentation and filter bubbles, but that they are not completely isolated in an anti-immigration media bubbles as they also rely on EJM's reporting in several ways.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , 73 p.
Keyword [en]
Anti-immigration media, alternative media, social media, filter bubbles, algorithms, media critique, polarization, fragmentation, balkanization, social trust
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-31828OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-31828DiVA: diva2:1067734
Subject / course
Media and Communication Studies
Uppsok
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Supervisors
Available from: 2017-01-23 Created: 2017-01-23Bibliographically approved

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Inside the Echo Chamber(1141 kB)383 downloads
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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf