We created S.P.A.C.E. (Spreading Peace and Countering Extremism) to counter the hateful rhetoric and political polarization that has been increasing in the U.S. in recent years. Our primary research consists of surveying our target audience to determine their attitudes towards incendiary language online, in the media, and in social interactions. In order to examine whether polarization is evident in our current US politics we conducted a survey using a convenient sample. The survey’s respondents were college students from New Mexico State University. In our project we also used a secondary research which identified a list of words that trigger polarized debates on social media. We’ve also looked at the 2016 Pew Research Center findings that indicate the U.S. has become more politically and religiously polarized than ever before. Our initiative will provide our Target Audience with tools and strategies to promote peaceful and constructive dialogues. We are using the Coordinated Management of Meaning Theory in Social Science as the foundation for our discourse tools.
Secondary Research Findings by Pew Research Indicating the Presence of Polarization
2016 Presidential Elections: Polarizing America through negative communication on social media
Our group looked at a research from the Pew Research Center. According to the Pew Research Center: In today’s world, people communicate more on social media than they do at the nightly supper table.
79% of online adults (68% of all Americans) use Facebook
Seeing the Other Party as a Threat to Nation
According to the Pew Research Center: The results of their polls has found that the animosity towards others of different parties and different takes on the issues is rising. They theorize that Democrats and Republicans cannot stop disagreeing with each other’s ideas. They take their disagreements further by being incorrigible on Facebook, denying each other’s facts, disproving of lifestyles, avoiding their homes, question each other’s motives, think that each other is a threat to our country, hate other’s news sources, and teach their children different values in religion, lifestyles and marriages. Americans are polarized and are unable to drag themselves out of the quagmire they’ve created with their friends, neighbors, and loved ones.
Primary Research Findings Conducted by S.P.A.C.E
In order to examine whether polarization is evident in our everyday life, we conducted a research which used respondents from a south western college campus. The total number of respondents employed in this study were n= (50) college students who were conveniently sampled from a college campus. The sample comprises of f= (33), and m= (12). Ethnicity was made up of Hispanic/Latino /Mexican, n= (20), White/European American, n= (20), Black/African American, n= (3), Native American/Red Indians, n= (1). The mean age of the respondents was 20. The study employed a likert scale measurement which ranged from Strongly Disagree-1, Disagree-2, Neutral-3, Agree-4, Strongly agree-5.
Our research discovered that respondents who indicated that they were concerned with the current polarization in American politics also indicated that they had experienced hostile messages using online media. This correlation was statistically significant. Again those respondents who indicated that they were concerned with the current polarization in American Politics also indicated that they’ve noticed a surge in polarized messages in the media after the 2016 US Presidential election. This correlation was statistically significant. Thirdly, respondents who indicated that they were concerned with the current political polarization in US politics also indicated their support for civil political discourse.
The result of our research data analysis shows that many respondents who indicated that they strongly disagree to having experienced hostile messages in real life in relation to the 2016 US Presidential election also indicated that they strongly disagreed with Democratic party identification. The findings shows a statistically significant but weak association between Democratic party identification and experience of hostile messages in real life in relation to the 2016 US Presidential election.
Similarly, many of those respondents who indicated that they strongly disagreed with Republican party identification also indicated that they strongly disagree to having experienced hostile messages in real life, in relation to the 2016 US presidential elections.
Furthermore in our research we found that, Republican, Independent and Democratic respondents strongly agreed to the fact that there has been a rise in polarized messages in the media after the 2016 US presidential elections. In this case we found a statistically significant but weak association between party identification and respondents agreement to an increase in polarized messages in the media after the 2016 US Presidential elections.
A section of the questionnaire asked respondents if they believed that social media can be used to promote peace and common ground between both Democrats and Republicans and also help solve this issue of polarization. We discovered that many of the Respondents, thus, Democratic, Independent and Republican agreed to the fact that social media can be used as a tool to help promote a common ground.
NB: Our research study cannot be generalized since the data employed for this study is a convenient sample collected from a South Western College campus.