Disagreement and opposition in social networks: Does disagreement discourage turnout?

Lilach Nir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Scholars studying the effects of political disagreement on participation have advanced competing propositions and mixed evidence to bear on whether disagreement in discussion networks either mobilizes or demobilizes voters. This article proposes that the seeming contradiction is due to different conceptual definitions of disagreement. Briefly, researchers have implicitly defined and measured disagreement in the respondents' political discussion network as either: (a) competition between points of view; or (b) opposition to a person's view. This article clarifies a distinction between two forms of disagreement, integrates past insights on its effects on turnout and tests the hypothesized effects of network composition on voting, in a nationally representative sample of US adults. Results demonstrate the differential effects of supportive, mixed and oppositional discussion networks on the likelihood of participation. Implications for future research are discussed in conclusion.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)674-692
Number of pages19
JournalPolitical Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Deliberation
  • Disagreement
  • Network heterogeneity
  • Participation
  • Social networks


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