Chapter 6 Politically Connected Your Vote Doesn’t Count If you applied “rationality” to voting, you probably wouldn’t vote. The “costs” of voting • researching candidates • getting to the polls • standing in line • voting rather than having time off are far greater than the payoffs • only one vote amongst millions! • your vote would only make a difference if the results were tied • probability < 1 in 10 million! Photo by aka_lusi, Flickr Your Vote Doesn’t Count Why does it matter if we vote? Because we do not vote alone! People do not decide whether or not to vote in isolation. We vote because our friends vote! Photo by gregg.carlstrom, Flickr Cascade Effect On average, 1 decision to vote will motivate 3 others to also go to the polls. Usually, those you influence to vote in your social network have political ideas similar to yours. So your decision to vote is even more powerful than your vote itself! Photo by programwitch, Flickr Politicians Social Networks can be dangerous as well! Politicians need to be careful about who they include in their social network because it affects the public’s opinion of them. Sometimes it is hard to know who politicians associate with. Following the paper trail can be helpful. Photo by wallyg and mharrsch, Flickr Politicians The paper trail of “sponsors” and “co-sponsors” on bills can be used to study the ties between legislators. These ties can be used to map the social network. The structure of the resulting map is very important! Photo by jcolman, Flickr Types of Modules A module (“community”) is a groups of people with many ties to each other and few ties to other groups. The more modular a network is, the more polarized it is. Complete Polarization Medium Polarization High Polarization Low Polarization Structure Matters! Weak Ties = More potential connections! They may not be strong, but they open more doors. People with many connections (both strong and weak) are more likely to be at the center of a social network. Photo by Rionda, Flickr Activism Goes Online Social networking sites like YouTube and Facebook have gone political. Campaigners, activists, and bloggers use sites like these to reach millions of internet users because they are far cheaper than advertising through the media. Photos by youtube.com and facebook.com Activism Goes Online You might think increased discussion would bring us politically closer but this map of political blogs in America shows otherwise. Online social networks appear to be strongly homophilous and polarized. The Effects of Online Social Networks This figure of the Iranian political blogosphere shows that the government allows a wide range of political discourse -- even criticisms of the government! If more freedom were given to the movements of online social networks, could it affect the entire political system in the country?