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Are we Aware? Networks and Politics

http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu/causality_in_political_networks.pdf

The article listed above is compilation of several essays devoted to the significance that social networks, or to be more specific the emergence of computer based networks, have on not only our political preferences, but on our political involvement as well. One of the recurring themes that we come across in networks is the change in how we as inhabitants of the world have the ability to communicate with other across vast distances effectively like no generation before us. With access to networks like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and many others we are able to broaden our interactions while simultaneously alter our scope on various issues.

One of the impacts networks have is on how individuals shape their political views. Like the article states in the past our views on the world, whether political or not, were largely determined by our immediate surroundings. Therefore beliefs could be isolated to particular regions and one could possibly never find deviations from the norm. However, with the implementation of networks we are able to connect to others who share our feelings. Now people can make strong connections to others based on their preferences and beliefs. From there individuals meet others on these networks typically due the strong triadic closure principle that we reviewed in class.

Groups of people with strong connections generally have something in common. In a political sense they share the same political views. Also as stated in the article as more people who are more actively involved in politics join the network it causes the current users to typically respond with increased activity. It is similar to Facebook in that people who have numerous friends who are active on Facebook, tend to be more active as a result.

This phenomenon can be related to resent political outrage. The best example is the emergence of the Tea Party Republicans. Before 2008 there were only to factions: Democrats and Republican. However, around 2010 many outcries for a change in government relating to increased unemployment, debt ceiling limits, and other matters caused many opposed to the leadership of this country to mobilize. Now there are several websites devoted to people who agree with the Tea Party and their ideas of reform.

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