CSH scientist Samuel Martin-Gutierrez gives this online talk at the NetSci 2022 which takes place from July 25-29, 2022 in Shanghai.
The talk starts at 4:05 pm China Standard time.
Social polarization is a growing concern worldwide, as it strains social relations, erodes trust in institutions, and thus threatens democratic societies. Academic efforts to understand this phenomenon have traditionally approached it from a one-dimensional perspective, focusing on bipolar or dichotomous systems. However, political conflicts often involve not only two, but multiple potentially dissenting factions. The most representative examples are multi-party democracies, where the multilateral tensions among different parties often lead to gridlock and uncertainty. Despite the prevalence of these multipolar systems, there is still a lack of suitable analytical tools to study their intricate polarization patterns.
In this work, we develop an analytical framework consisting of an inherently multipolar model for unbiased ideological spaces, a method to infer multidimensional opinions from interaction networks, and novel multidimensional polarization metrics that quantify several aspects of ideological polarization and bring new insights into the analysis of high-dimensional opinion distributions.
Crucially, our multidimensional framework does not assume the underlying ideological structure, such as conservative vs progressive, liberal vs authoritarian, etc. Instead, it reveals the natural space that best describes the social landscape, which does not necessarily correspond to traditional categories. We illustrate the application of this framework in quadripolar and pentapolar real-world democratic processes, finding non-trivial ideological structures with clear connections to the underlying social context. Our methodology offers a comprehensive perspective of multilateral social tensions, as it incorporates complementary aspects of polarization: network segregation, opinion extremeness, and issue alignment.