Do Echo Chambers exist? A cross-national study of Germany and the United States
The idea of an “echo chamber” in politics is a metaphorical way to describe a situation where only certain ideas, information and beliefs are shared. People inside this setting will only encounter things they already agree with. Without free movement of ideas and information, people inside the echo chamber will believe that this is all there is. Under these circumstances anyone who disagrees is misinformed at best and willfully ignorant at worst.
To date evidence on echo chambers has been mixed. But most studies have been conducted on social media, many on Twitter, and this severely limits their generalizability. Even if Twitter is polarized, it is only one part of a much larger media environment. Individuals tend to use multiple media to access news and political information. In fact, one of the key characteristics of the Internet is that it gives everyone access to an extremely heterogeneous collection of media. It is important to consider the entire range of media that people use in a high-choice media environment.
The data from the Quello Search Project asks about use of 6 online and 6 offline sources of political information. The data also contain numerous variables on politics, political media use, and political opinions. I use these data to write a systematic comparison of political media use and echo chambers in Germany and the United States.
Main Research Topics
- Social, cultural and political implications of the Internet
- Digital divide and digital inequality
- Qualitative and quantitative methods and statistics
- 2017 – present: Senior Research Fellow, Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
- 2013 – present: Chair of Digital Engagement Research Working Group, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
- 2010 – present: Survey Research Fellow, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom
- 2015: Career Achievement Award. Communication, Information Technologies and Media Sociology section of the American Sociological Association
- 2007 – 2009: Senior Research Associate, American Sociological Association
- 1999 – 2007: Assistant professor. Department of Sociology. American University
- 1996 – 1997: President. Social Science Computing Association
- 1979 – 1999: Independent consultant. Specialties: Data analysis and research design
Lectures and Publications
- Fielding, N., Lee, R.M. & Blank, G. (eds). (2017). Handbook of Online Research Methods. 2nd edition. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications.
- Blank, G. & Lutz, C. (2017). Representativeness of social media in Great Britain: Investigating Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram. American Behavioral Scientist. 61(7): 741-756. DOI: 10.1177/0002764217717559.
- Dutton, W.H. & Blank, G. (2015). Cultural stratification of the Internet: Five clusters of values and beliefs among users in Britain. Communication and Information Technologies Annual, 10: 3-28. DOI: 10.1108/S2050-206020150000010001.
- Dutton, W. H., & Blank, G. (2014). The emergence of next generation internet users. International Economics and Economic Policy, 11(1-2), 29-47. DOI:10.1007/s10368-013-0245-8.
- Blank, G. (2013). Who creates content? Stratification and content creation on the Internet. Information, Communication & Society, 16(4), 590-612. DOI:10.1080/1369118X.2013.777758.