Political isolation in America

Byungkyu Lee, Peter Bearman

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    This study documents historical trends of size and political diversity in Americans' discussion networks, which are often seen as important barometers of social and political health. Contrasting findings from data drawn out of a nationally representative survey experiment of 1,055 Americans during the contentious 2016 U.S. presidential election to data arising from 11 national data sets covering nearly three decades, we find that Americans' core networks are significantly smaller and more politically homogeneous than at any other period. Several methodological artifacts seem unlikely to account for the effect. We show that in this period, more than before, important matters were often framed as political matters, and that this association probably accounts for the smaller networks.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)333-355
    Number of pages23
    JournalNetwork Science
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 2020


    • core discussion network
    • egocentric network
    • network size
    • political homophily
    • political polarization
    • survey experiment

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Communication
    • Sociology and Political Science


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