DMRC’s Professor Axel Bruns has been awarded a prestigious five-year Australian Laureate Fellowship ($3,518,080) from the Australian Research Council for his project Determining the Drivers and Dynamics of Partisanship and Polarisation in Online Public Debate.
“We aim to enable an urgently needed defence of our society and democracy against the challenges of polarisation,” said Professor Bruns, a recognised world leader in media, communication, and journalism studies, with a particular focus on the evolution of online communication practices.
“Polarisation intensifies social conflicts, threatens economic prosperity, undermines public trust, and ultimately destabilises societies. Such instability can be exploited by domestic extremists or foreign influence campaigns to weaken sovereign states. Australia has so far been less affected than other leading democracies, but we are not immune to creeping polarisation and subsequent destabilisation. We must understand the threats we face.”
This project will examine the impact of partisanship and polarisation, including the first-ever assessment of the extent and dynamics of polarisation in the contemporary online and social media environments of six nations – Australia, the US, the UK, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland.
“By developing the evidence base for the dynamics of polarisation in news coverage, audience engagement, public discourse, and social networks, we will identify avenues for avoiding and reducing it in Australian society, safeguarding national cohesion.”
Read the full QUT media release here.