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Dates and Times

28 February 2023
11:00 - 12:00


Building: 24
Room: Fishbowl


Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance


Katharina Esau

CDDGG Seminar Series - Katharina Esau

The Quality of Connections: Encouraging Deliberative Reciprocity and Inclusive Listening as Antidote to Polarized Online Debate

Although conflict is vital for a lively public sphere, concerned voices warn about harmful levels of polarisation, especially in social media environments. This presentation discusses affective polarisation and political convergence as elements of destructive polarisation. It shifts the focus from the quality of individual contributions to the quality of communicative connections. Building on an overview of previous deliberation research it shows that although there is disagreement on forms and styles of communication in deliberation, representatives of classic and inclusive concepts agree that communication should be reciprocal. Two specific forms of reciprocal communication are theoretically discussed as antidote to destructive polarisation online: deliberative reciprocity and inclusive listening. Deliberative reciprocity is drawn from classic deliberation concepts and means an utterance that includes a reply, respect, and argumentation. Inclusive listening is drawn from critical and inclusive understandings of deliberation and means that an utterance includes communicative empathy, reflexivity, constructiveness, or a genuine question. The importance of high quality reciprocal communication for online public spheres and depolarisation is theorised.

This seminar is moderated by Anne Jedzini.

About the speaker

Katharina Esau is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC) at the Queensland University of Technology, working under the Digital Publics program on Professor Axel Bruns's Australian Laureate Fellowship project "Determining the Drivers and Dynamics of Partisanship and Polarisation in Online Public Debate". She earned her PhD in Media and Communication Research from the University of Düsseldorf. 2022 she received a Best Dissertation Award from the Democracy Foundation of the University of Cologne. The presentation builds on her freshly published book “Communication Forms and Dynamic of Deliberation”.

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