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The Political Consequences of Gender in Social Networks

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 June 2016

Abstract

Recent research on political discussion has focused on whether aspects of interaction create a ‘democratic dilemma’ for the mass public in which people face a choice between political participation and political tolerance. This article argues that there are important variations in how people react to their immediate social contacts. It explores this idea by studying how social disagreement and expertise interact with gender to explain variance in political participation. First, it shows that there are conflicting expectations in the literature about how such dynamics should manifest, despite agreement that men and women should experience different kinds and degrees of social influence. Secondly, it examines these expectations by revisiting prominent, network-based explanations of political participation; it finds that these relationships do not display consistency across sex differences. The results point to the existence of varied ‘social logics’ for men and women, and suggest the need to reconsider how to think about the efficacy of discussion and disagreement in a democratic society.

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© Cambridge University Press 2016 

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Footnotes

*

Department of Political Science, Dennison University (email: djupe@denison.edu); Department of Political Science, Southern Illinois University (email: mcclurg@siu.edu); Department of Political Science, University of Colorado, Boulder (email: anand.sokhey@colorado.edu). Authors names are listed alphabetically. We wish to thank Casey Klofstad for comments, Jennifer Wolak for early conversations, and Diana Mutz for several email exchanges. Previous versions of this article were delivered at the 68th and 69th annual meetings of the MPSA, Chicago, IL. All errors remain our own. Data replication sets are available at http://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataverse/BJPolS and online appendices are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123416000156.

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