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date: 05 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Normative theory extols the virtues of disagreement to democracy, but evidence to support these suppositions is somewhat mixed. This chapter reviews the empirical literature on exposure to disagreement that occurs in ordinary political conversations among citizens. After outlining conceptual distinctions and operational definitions in the literature, the main section highlights both the agreed-upon and contested findings on the consequences of disagreement, including opinion quality, political tolerance, attitudinal ambivalence, knowledge gains, polarization, and participatory outcomes. The concluding section points to unanswered questions and proposes several directions for future research on disagreement. These include exploring factors that shape receptivity to disagreement, such as individual differences, situational cues, the content of verbal exchanges, and cross-national differences in political institutions, media systems, or cultural preference for outspokenness.

Keywords: social networks, heterogeneity, crosscutting exposure, everyday deliberation, extremism, polarization, ambivalence, political tolerance, opinion expression

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