The emergence and perils of polarization

Delia Baldassarri, Scott E. Page

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We provide commentaries on the papers included in the Dynamics of Political Polarization Special Feature. Baldassarri reads the contribution of the papers in light of the theoretical distinction between ideological partisanship, which is generally rooted in sociodemographic and political cleavages, and affective partisanship, which is, instead, mostly fueled by emotional attachment and repulsion, rather than ideology and material interests. The latter, she argues, is likely to lead to a runaway process and threaten the pluralistic bases of contemporary democracy. Page sees the contribution of the many distinct models in the ensemble as potentially contributing more than the parts. Individual papers identify distinct causes of polarization as well as potential solutions. Viewed collectively, the papers suggest that the multiple causes of polarization may self-reinforce, which suggests that successful interventions would require a variety of efforts. Understanding how to construct such interventions may require larger models with greater realism.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbere2116863118
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number50
    StatePublished - Dec 14 2021


    • Affective polarization
    • Complex systems
    • Political polarization

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


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