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See detailFinding Inequality in an Unlikely Place: Differences in Policy Congruence between Social Groups in Belgium
Lesschaeve, Christophe UL

in Acta Politica (2017), 52(3), 361383

This paper seeks to develop and test an issue-level determinants model of opinion congruence inequality between the privileged and the underprivileged social groups. Current theories on congruence ... [more ▼]

This paper seeks to develop and test an issue-level determinants model of opinion congruence inequality between the privileged and the underprivileged social groups. Current theories on congruence inequality and representation focus on country-level factors such as the interest group system or campaign finance. The existing literature focuses far less on variation in inequality in preference representation in a single context. To fill this void in the literature, we develop an issue-level model of opinion congruence inequality between the privileged and the underprivileged groups in terms of education and income. Based on an integrated dataset containing the policy positions of parties and voters in Belgium on 229 policy statements, we find that when social groups have different policy positions, preferences in the legislature align more with the preferences of the privileged social groups. In addition, opinion congruence inequality also depends on the importance of the issues to groups: the difference in opinion congruence is larger for economic and tax policies, vital to the privileged groups, but smaller on issues related to social welfare, crucial to the underprivileged groups. Finally, the results show that when voters of a group disagree with their party’s position on an issue, their preferences regarding that issue are less well represented in the legislature. [less ▲]

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See detailOnline Forums and Deliberative Democracy
Janssen, Davy; Kies, Raphaël UL

in Acta Politica (2005), 40

The Internet is rapidly becoming a part of the everyday lives of a majority of people in the Western world. People perform various activities on the Internet and one of them is discussing politics and ... [more ▼]

The Internet is rapidly becoming a part of the everyday lives of a majority of people in the Western world. People perform various activities on the Internet and one of them is discussing politics and society in so-called online forums. In this article, we present an overview of some of the empirical research that evaluates the quality of political conversations in online forums. In the first section, we distinguish research on Usenet groups, web-based political forums and e-consultation forums, and discuss some its findings. In the second section, we elaborate three original categories of variables that attempt to explain differences observed in the quality of deliberation. The third, more extensive section deals with methodological issues. It discusses the operationalisation of deliberative quality and the application of a set of criteria for the idealized public sphere to online conversations. In the conclusion, we present some objections to the previous research and offer some ideas for a more comprehensive approach to online forum analysis. [less ▲]

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