The method of research used by the authors is a qualitative analysis of the discourse of social networks, namely Facebook. Using Northrup’s theory of identity in intractable conflict, the authors analyze how users use dehumanizing language and thereby normalize dangerous levels of hatred (Harel et al., 2020). Researchers note negative trends inherent in the Internet and social networks, including the polarization of society, verbal aggression, and the creation of echo chambers (Harel et al., 2020). Particularly influential is the term affective popularization, which makes it seem as if American society is divided into two camps, Republicans and Democrats. The authors believe that these kinds of trends are a threat to open dialogue and provide an avenue for hatred of others (Harel et al., 2020). The study aims to find ways to reduce dehumanized attitudes of people toward each other in social networks.
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The study’s strength is that it was based on an analysis of comments on the Facebook page, followed by many people. This makes it possible to trace some general trends in the way people communicate and contributes to more informed conclusions. Two periods were analyzed when web page participants left comments to avoid biases. Although the authors note that the limitation of the study to focus on only one group, right-wing Israeli Jews, will be taken into account, this focus can be categorized as a design weakness. The final analysis revealed evidence of the first three stages of Northrup’s model, namely threat, distortion, and rigidity (Harel et al., 2020).
Connecting people with different views to interact online is seen by the authors as a way to solve the dangerous trend that has been detected (Harel et al., 2020). I think that the analyzed article may help me to conduct similar research myself in the future. In doing so, I will try to avoid obvious contradictions and will do my best to make sure that the conclusions I found are relevant and justified.
Harel, T. O., Jameson, J. K., & Maoz, I. (2020). The normalization of hatred: Identity, affective polarization, and dehumanization on Facebook in the context of intractable political conflict. Social Media + Society, 1-10. Web.