Episode 3

Published on:

27th Feb 2024

Origins of Polarization with Yphtach Lelkes

How much of our identity is informed by our ideology? How much of our ideology is informed by our identity? Are politicians pulling the electorate to the extremes? Or are voters demanding that politicians take more hard-line policy stances? These are just some of the chicken-and-egg scenarios that come to light when trying to understand what drives polarization.

It's perhaps easy to assume that deepening social discord is worsening at the hands of political entrepreneurs. But are we underestimating the agency voters' leverage in their decision-making? Are voters as radicalized as their party? If not, why do they continue to vote in the way that they do? In fact, why are electorates as polarized as they are if voters aren't as extreme as their party's platforms imply?

Yphtach Lelkes - Co-Director of the Polarization Research Lab - explains how lineage can predict political leanings, how politicians and voters interact to polarize the public, and why he thinks polarization is not as bad as we think it is. 

You can find his research here.

Writings and Writers mentioned:

The Other Divide by Yanna Krupnikov and John Barry Ryan

Vanya Washington

Andy Hall

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About the Podcast

Counter Polarization
2024 is a massively consequential year for national and global politics. Sixty-four countries across the world will have elections over the next 12 months - including the U.S., U.K., European Parliament, Taiwan, India, South Africa, and Mexico. This is a watershed moment for democracy as a governing system not simply because so much of the world's population will mobilize to decide who comes to power - but because, at this moment, countries are more polarized than they have ever been.

How did we get here? Why are democratic electorates so deeply divided? Is it culture war? Are we chess pieces in a game played by political opportunists? Is this an organic outcome of pluralistic societies? What's going on?

The CounterPol (short for "Counter Polarization") podcast is trying to figure all this out.

In this first season, we talk with scholars, business leaders, and peace activists to understand the mechanics of societal polarization. Over eight episodes, guests share their research with the listener - the culmination of which, we hope, brings to light the overt and covert processes that are driving us further apart.

Join Ceejay Hayes, Alan Jagolinzer, and Sander van der Linden as they dive into the complex world of polarization.

Send your questions, comments, and theories to counterpolpodcast@gmail.com

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Ceejay Hayes