Political stability and the fragmentation of online publics in multilingual states

Citation: Bailo, F. (2016). Political stability and the fragmentation of online publics in multilingual states. In preparation, 0(0), 0.

Keywords: Facebook; Belgium; Ukraine; Switzerland; Bosnia; Online politics; Political stability; Exponential Random Graph Models; Networks


In this paper I compare users’ interactions on Facebook pages of parties and politicians in four different European multilingual countries: Switzerland, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Ukraine. The focus is on measuring the political and linguistic divide of online publics and their association with measures of political stability of the respective countries. The four countries are interesting case studies because although all ethnolinguistic heterogeneous produce very different levels of political stability. In political science literature, fragmentation and polarisation are often read as malaises and possibly facilitated and fomented by Internet communication technologies. As the theory goes, the fragmentation of deliberating publics, or the absence of cross-groups communication channels because of assortative tendencies, might exacerbate polarisation by reducing the exposure to diverse views and moving members of groups towards more extreme positions, reducing political stability and increasing conflictuality. But the results presented in this paper suggest that ethnolinguistic fragmentation is not associated with stability and in fact less politically stable countries might have more integrated online publics.

Density of languages and location of Facebook pages (when available)

Network of parties (direct reply) in Ukraine

Cross-party users’ posting within and among linguistic regions of Belgium (Brussels excluded)