Public opinion polarization on immigration can hinder social cohesion, integration policies and economic growth. Political campaigns and partisan news media systems have long been investigated in terms of potential drivers of mass polarization, often through a focus on one news media. Utilizing survey data collected by the Pew Research Center, the purpose of the present study is twofold: first, to provide insight into the state of polarization of the Italian public on immigrants-related issues during the campaign for 2018 General Elections, that is, in a context of increasing struggle on immigration between political elites and partisan news media; second, to analyze whether and how the frequency of use of traditional and digital news media and/or the political similarity of (online and offline) information networks have affected the probability of Italian citizens having polarized opinions on immigration. This study shows no significant divergences in the Italian public opinion toward extreme positions, but provide evidence of one-side extremism and alignment along two irreconcilable views. Furthermore, findings indicate deep differences in the effects of traditional and digital news media practices on individuals’ extreme and aligned positions on immigration. When various news media are considered, the effect of television is always the more robust.
Iannelli, L., Biagi, B., Meleddu, M. (2021). Public opinion polarization on immigration in Italy: the role of traditional and digital news media practices. The Communication Review, DOI: 10.1080/10714421.2021.1972720