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Communication and Cooperation: A Study of the Relationship Between Political Communication and Large-scale Collective Action
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5308-1049
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates the importance of communication for individual cooperation in large-scale collective action dilemmas. In small-scale collective action, where participants have the possibility to meet face-to-face, communication has been shown to drastically increase levels of cooperation. These positive effects are generally believed to be related to the possibilities of exchanging mutual commitments, sharing strategic information, creating and enforcing shared norms, developing trust, and creating a common group identity that communication offers. In large-scale dilemmas, involving thousands or even millions of participants, possibilities for communication are highly restricted beyond the immediate social vicinity of individuals. Participants are therefore unable to reap the positive benefits of communication that are available at the small-scale. Furthermore, as the public goods on which individuals cooperate in large-scale dilemmas often are both distant and abstract in nature (climate change, ozone depletion, overpopulation), the role of communication as an informational-shortcut might be even greater in large-scale dilemmas. That is, individuals need information about the characteristics of the resource in question, the relevant set of other actors participating, and the individual costs and benefits of cooperation.

To compensate for the lack of communication and first-hand information, individuals in large-scale dilemmas are generally assumed to rely on different forms of judgmental and behavioral ‘heuristics’ (e.g. generalized trust and internalized norms) to make cooperative decisions. In this thesis I focus on one type of heuristic that generally has been overlooked in research on collective action; the individual reliance on information from trusted elite sources. Specifically, I study the extent to which individuals use communications from political parties when making cooperative decisions. The aim of the thesis is thus to investigate the relationship between political communication and large-scale collective action, and how this relationship varies with individual and contextual factors. This is studied in the context of climate change mitigation, which is a typical case of large-scale collective action, characterized by the large number of anonymous actors, the negligible impacts and high costs of individual cooperation, and a general lack of face-to-face communication and first-hand information.

Using a country comparative approach, and cross-sectional survey data, the results show that: 1) political communications both directly and indirectly (by shaping perceptions of collective efficacy and collective benefits) influences individuals’ cooperative/non-cooperative decisions, and that this effect goes beyond other individual level factors, e.g. ideology, income, education; 2) not only specific communications, but also perceptions of the overall political climate (degree of polarization and the average party stance) affects attitudes both directly and indirectly; 3) these effects are not isolated to certain environments, but (to varying degree) can be found across political contexts and parties. The results have important implications both practically for policy makers, by creating a deeper understanding of the formation of individual climate change attitudes, and theoretically, by creating a better understanding of how individuals make decisions in large-scale collective action dilemmas. Future research should both validate the results from this study using other research designs (e.g. longitudinal or multilevel data, experimental designs), and expand on them, for example by exploring how different sources of communication and different types of information interact and influence the reception of communication content. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå University of Technology, 2018.
Series
Doctoral thesis / Luleå University of Technology 1 jan 1997 → …, ISSN 1402-1544
Keywords [en]
Collective Action, Political Communication, Climate Change
National Category
Political Science Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-67587ISBN: 978-91-7790-056-6 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7790-057-3 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-67587DiVA, id: diva2:1183224
Public defence
2018-04-13, A109, Luleå, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-02-16 Created: 2018-02-16 Last updated: 2018-03-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Climate policy support under political consensus: exploring the varying effect of partisanship and party cues
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Climate policy support under political consensus: exploring the varying effect of partisanship and party cues
2018 (English)In: Environmental Politics, ISSN 0964-4016, E-ISSN 1743-8934, Vol. 27, no 2, p. 228-246Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

By creating attitudinal rifts among partisan voters, political polarization is

expected to negatively affect chances of effectively mitigating climate change.

While such expectations generally have found support, less attention has been

paid to the opposite claim that political consensus should eliminate the

partisan dimension in climate change politics. This study tests this claim by

studying how party identification, and party cues specifically, affects public

policy attitudes in a context defined by political consensus. Using data from a

large online access panel in Sweden, party identification and party cues are

shown to matter for policy attitudes even in a consensus context. This effect is

not limited to certain issues but is found across a wide range of policies, and

the effect of party cues, for a given issue, varies across parties. The implications

of this study and areas for future work are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2018
Keywords
Policy support; party cues; climate change; political parties; political consensus; political polarization
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-67015 (URN)10.1080/09644016.2017.1413745 (DOI)000424916000003 ()
Note

Validerad;2018;Nivå 2;2018-01-04 (svasva)

Available from: 2017-12-14 Created: 2017-12-14 Last updated: 2018-03-21Bibliographically approved
2. Political communication and public support for climate mitigation policies: a country-comparative perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Political communication and public support for climate mitigation policies: a country-comparative perspective
2018 (English)In: Climate Policy, ISSN 1469-3062, E-ISSN 1752-7457, Vol. 18, no 5, p. 543-555Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Understanding under what conditions individuals are willing to support policies aimed at mitigating climate change has important consequences for the legitimacy, costs, effectiveness, and longevity of any policy alternative. Given the politicized nature of climate change, one factor that has been found to be important in explaining public support is partisan political communication. It has, for example, been shown how political communication has important effects on public beliefs and attitudes regarding climate change. A lack of country comparative studies, together with methodological limitations in previous research, has, however, led to a limited understanding of how these processes work, especially in a comparative perspective. In this paper, the effects of political communication on public support for climate mitigation, and the cross-country variations of these effects, is studied. Specifically, this paper investigates: (1) to what degree individual policy attitudes varies across party lines, (2) to what degree variations in policy attitudes can be explained by the effect of party cues, and (3) to what extent the effect of partisanship and political communication varies across political contexts. Using original data from a country comparative online public opinion survey covering Australia, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden political communication is found to significantly influence public policy attitudes in all contexts studied, albeit to different degrees.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2018
National Category
Political Science Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-63989 (URN)10.1080/14693062.2017.1327840 (DOI)000428156600001 ()
Note

Validerad;2018;Nivå 2;2018-03-20 (rokbeg)

Available from: 2017-06-14 Created: 2017-06-14 Last updated: 2018-04-19Bibliographically approved

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