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Freedom of Speech and Segmenting the Citizens
Unformatted Document Text:  ICA-10-10582 18 group and the individuals within the group to a point where group members on the average share a view that is more extreme than the initial views of most of the members. Turner (1991) proposes three possible mechanisms that might lead to group polarization. Of the three mechanisms that he proposes, Persuasive Arguments Theory stands out as the one that most relevantly explicates how informational influences within a group may lead to group polarization. According to this theory, different members of the same group will share the same opinions on the basis of different reasons. However, within group deliberation works so as to expand the initial pool of persuasive arguments that individual members of the group held. Such an expansion in the set of persuasive arguments that individual members hold reinforces the members’ opinions, thereby pushing their beliefs to the extreme. Hence, in an environment of discussion where the same view is based upon different (and probably compatible) reasons, the opinions of the individuals (and the group) will exhibit marked polarization to the extreme (pp.64-66). One of the most important implications of such a process is that different subgroups will be set apart from each other. This polarization of diverse groups will almost certainly inhibit interactions between members of these groups and this will, as a result, lead to a loss of mutual understanding (Sunstein, 2001, p.48), and respect (p.49). This is also recognized by Putnam (2000) who says that, over time, the prospects of being exposed to alternative, potentially enlightening views and reaching mutual agreement diminishes (p.341). Another important implication of group polarization is closely related to the concept of freedom of access to information that was discussed previously. As Sunstein contends, freedom is not a concept that is confined to satisfaction of preferences (p.50). Freedom entails the ability to make informed decisions (p.50). As previously explained, in a society where access to information is determined by the profiles that companies have, exposure to conflicting views becomes very unlikely.

Authors: Popescu, Mihaela. and Baruh, Lemi.
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ICA-10-10582
18
group and the individuals within the group to a point where group members on the average
share a view that is more extreme than the initial views of most of the members.
Turner (1991) proposes three possible mechanisms that might lead to group
polarization. Of the three mechanisms that he proposes, Persuasive Arguments Theory stands
out as the one that most relevantly explicates how informational influences within a group
may lead to group polarization. According to this theory, different members of the same
group will share the same opinions on the basis of different reasons. However, within group
deliberation works so as to expand the initial pool of persuasive arguments that individual
members of the group held. Such an expansion in the set of persuasive arguments that
individual members hold reinforces the members’ opinions, thereby pushing their beliefs to
the extreme. Hence, in an environment of discussion where the same view is based upon
different (and probably compatible) reasons, the opinions of the individuals (and the group)
will exhibit marked polarization to the extreme (pp.64-66).
One of the most important implications of such a process is that different subgroups
will be set apart from each other. This polarization of diverse groups will almost certainly
inhibit interactions between members of these groups and this will, as a result, lead to a loss
of mutual understanding (Sunstein, 2001, p.48), and respect (p.49). This is also recognized
by Putnam (2000) who says that, over time, the prospects of being exposed to alternative,
potentially enlightening views and reaching mutual agreement diminishes (p.341).
Another important implication of group polarization is closely related to the concept of
freedom of access to information that was discussed previously. As Sunstein contends,
freedom is not a concept that is confined to satisfaction of preferences (p.50). Freedom
entails the ability to make informed decisions (p.50). As previously explained, in a society
where access to information is determined by the profiles that companies have, exposure to
conflicting views becomes very unlikely.


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