How Political Conflict Shapes Online Spaces: A Comparison of Climate Change Hyperlink Networks in the U.S. and Germany

Häussler, Thomas; Adam, Silke; Schmid-Petri, Hannah; Reber, Ueli (2017). How Political Conflict Shapes Online Spaces: A Comparison of Climate Change Hyperlink Networks in the U.S. and Germany. International journal of communication, 11, pp. 3096-3117. USC Annenberg

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We examine how the political context in which actors are embedded relates to their online communication. We argue that the degree of contentiousness of an issue (high vs. low conflict) is a decisive factor in explaining the distinct network structures generated by the actors’ hyperlink patterns. Comparing two such networks originating in the United States and Germany in the area of clilmate change, we found systematic differences between them that result in distinct political hyperlink topologies, which reflect the underlying issue context. These differences become visible in the reciprocity of the actors’ hyperlink communication, the fragmentation of the networks along the political divide, the recognition issue opponents receive from the media, and the transnational orientation of climate advocates and skeptics. This research implies that hyperlink communication is responsive to the political context, and that countermovements, in particular, manage to reap the benefits from online communication mobilization efforts.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Communication and Media Studies (ICMB)

UniBE Contributor:

Häussler, Thomas; Adam, Silke; Schmid-Petri, Hannah and Reber, Ueli


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




USC Annenberg




Beatrice Romann

Date Deposited:

06 Dec 2017 08:43

Last Modified:

06 Dec 2017 08:43




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