Saturday, January 16, 2021

Stacy G. Ulbig's "Angry Politics"

Stacy G. Ulbig is a professor of political science at Sam Houston State University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Angry Politics: Partisan Hatred and Political Polarization among College Students, and reported the following:
Flipping to page 99 of Angry Politics, the table of correlations presented at the top of the page will likely capture the reader’s eye. The table examines the connections between media consumption and feelings of partisan hatred among a sample of college students. Perusing the remainder of the page, readers will take away the message that, in general, young potential voters, especially partisan Independents, who consume more media are more likely to express hatred of, and a desire to, physically harm those who hold partisan leanings different from their own.

After viewing page 99, a reader may infer that this tome focuses on the ways in which the mass media affect partisan attitudes. Yet the central thesis of this book does not focus on the influence of media or other demographic and attitudinal characteristics. Instead Angry Politics makes the argument that partisanship operates much the same as social identities to breed in-group affinity and out-group antipathy, and that they can operate in much the same way as connections to ethnic or religious groups to create and sustain hatred of out-group affiliates.

In light of the rancorous 2020 presidential election and the many protests that occurred across the nation, this may not seem surprising. Yet expressions of such hatred were prevalent as early as February, 2015, when the college students studied in this book were interviewed. Even nascent voters who paid little attention to politics expressed enmity toward, and a willingness to engage in physical violence against, people holding partisan attachments that differed from their own. Further, the book examines the ways in which such sentiments can lead to an unwillingness to socialize or cooperate with counter-partisans. Though much of this book offers a rather pessimistic view of American politics, it concludes by offering some specific ideas about the ways in which focusing on protecting an open market of ideas and discussion, and prioritizing critical exploration of a wide spectrum of opinion on college campuses might build a more civil and cooperative political future.
Learn more about Angry Politics at the University Press of Kansas website.

--Marshal Zeringue