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Exploring the Shifting Contours of Communication


Edited By Patricia Moy and Donald Matheson

This edited volume on voices arose from the 2018 International Communication Association conference in Prague, Czech Republic. The contributions examine the conference’s central theme from multiple epistemological approaches, a host of methodologies, and numerous levels of analysis. They reveal how studying voice—or the plurality of voices—illuminates the process by which it is fostered and/or constrained as well as the conditions under which it is expressed and/or stifled. More important, the study of voice sheds light on the process by which it impacts behaviors, defines relationships, influences policies, and shapes the world in which we live. In other words, studies of voice are not relegated to a few domains, but interface with myriad discourses, actors, processes, and outcomes.

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12. Toxic for Whom? Examining the Targets of Uncivil and Intolerant Discourse in Online Political Talk (Patricia Rossini)


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12. Toxic for Whom? Examining the Targets of Uncivil and Intolerant Discourse in Online Political Talk


As the internet becomes integrated into citizens’ everyday life, many casual opportunities to engage in political talk take place online. With the rise of social media, scholarly attention to online political talk has shifted from formal political discussion forums to informal spaces where political discussion is not the main purpose (Graham 2010, 2012; Himelboim et al. 2012). In these latter situations, political talk emerges from other social activities and interests (e.g., entertainment) and can expose its participants to a variety of perspectives.

The interest surrounding political talk online is well justified. Informal political conversation is a core activity in modern democracies that enables citizens to learn about topics of public concern, engage with their communities, build shared values, as well as to build, understand, and negotiate both personal and collective identities (Moy and Gastil 2006; Wyatt, Katz, and Kim 2000). Although a substantial body of research has examined the potential benefits of political talk, scholars become skeptical when these conversations take place in digital environments given the uncivil discourse they breed (Anderson et al. 2014; Coe, Kenski, and Rains 2014; Rowe 2015). While these concerns are not unjustified, most research on online incivility has focused on the presence of certain behaviors, with little attention to the extent to which this type of discourse targets particular groups and individuals, or...

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