Papers at ICA2018, May 24-28, Prague

This week is a very special one: I’m in Prague for the second time and just finished preparing my presentations for the International Communication Association Annual Conference (ICA). It’s just my second ICA and I feel honored and lucky to be here and present among so many important references in the field of Political Communication.

On Friday, 25, I’ll present a paper on my dissertation research, which I’m hoping to help spark interesting discussion over the concept of incivility and the understanding of online political talk beyond deliberative lenses. The session is on “The Effects of Incivility and Conflict Framing”, at the Hilton Prague, L, Athens, and the program is here:

The paper is titled: “Does it Matter if it’s Uncivil? Conceptualizing Uncivil and Intolerant Discourse in Online Political Talk”, and is available for download here.

Abstract. This paper takes up the popular argument that much online discussion is toxic and
hence harmful to democracy. I offer a more nuanced theory by arguing that uncivil discourse,
where people express their perspectives with foul language and antinormative intensity,
should be understood as a rhetorical act. The true threat to democracy is intolerant discourse
where groups of people or individuals are attacked in ways that threaten democratic
pluralism. The validity of this theoretical model is demonstrated in the context of public
comments in a wide range of political news on two different platforms – news websites and
social media. Results demonstrate that incivility and intolerance can be meaningfully
distinguished. While incivility is associated with desirable discussion features, such as
justified opinion expression and engagement with disagreement, intolerance is likely to occur
in discussions about minorities and civil society – exactly when it can hurt democracy the

The second presentation is on Saturday, in the Methodological Challenges of Hateful and Problematic Content Detection Online” panel. Jenny Stromer-Galley and I will be talking about the challenges for detecting incivility on social media that we used in the Illuminating project. The session will be at the Prague Old Town, M, Haydn, 9:30. Program:

Lastly, on Sunday I’ll present some of the Illuminating work with Jeff Hemsley, Jenny Stromer-Galley, Sikana Tanupabrungsun and Feifei Zhang in the “New Research on the 2016 American Presidential Election, chaired by Daniel Kreiss, along with a stellar group of scholars –check the program here:

The paper is titled “Opinion Polls and Presidential Candidate’s use of Persuasive Messages During the 2016 Election”. The session is at 9:30 at the Hilton Prague, M, Hercovka.

Abstract. The use of digital technologies by political campaigns have been a topic of scholarly concern for over two decades. However, these studies have been mostly focused on analyzing the use of digital platforms without considering contextual factors of the race, like public opinion polling data. However, polling data is an important information source for both citizens and candidates, and provide the latter with information that might drive strategic communication. In this adjust In this paper, we explore the relationship between the use of social media in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections and candidates’ standing in public opinion polls focusing on the surfacing and primary stages of the campaign. We are also interested in understanding whether candidates use Twitter and Facebook in similar ways. We use automated content analysis to categorize social media posts from all 21 Republican and Democratic candidates that ran for president in 2016. Specifically, we are interested in observing whether a candidate’s performance in the polls drives certain communicative strategies, such as the use of attacks and messages of advocacy, as well as the focus on personal image or policy issues.


Looking forward to the interesting discussions in these sessions, and to catch up with friends and colleagues from around the world in this beautiful city! 🙂