Vitriolic voices : political candidates and the incivility gender gap online
Cardona, Arielle M.
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The advent and diffusion of many Internet technologies have inspired the possibility of a new, Habermasian, online public sphere. Social networking sites are one of these potential spaces -- the free and open communication among users allows for a generally unmediated message flow that could help to foster ideal deliberative discussion. Of particular concern for the reality of such a space, however, is the troubling amount of incivility online, especially toward groups traditionally disenfranchised in the public sphere such as women. Although scholars have looked at the presence of incivility within comment sections, scant research has studied incivility on social networking websites, whether political context affects the presence of incivility, or how incivility differs by gender. This thesis applies a content analysis of Twitter @-replies toward male and female gubernatorial and Senate candidates to understand not only differences in the amount of incivility, but the context of such communication. The findings suggest that women receive more uncivil communication than men. Even when controlling for various campaign characteristics, Democratic women are more likely than Republican women to receive uncivil replies, and male authors are more likely than female authors be uncivil online. The online public sphere appears to present a new set of challenges for female candidates, and gender must continue to remain a variable in studies moving forward.