Political Communication in CONTEXT

Oops, political communication is not just about individual psychological tendencies!

Publication on the International Journal of Communication

Top Student Paper Award from NCA's Political Communication Division

Staying Tuned for Censored Information Sources?

Set out to explain the "anomaly" that mainland Chinese immigrants opt for (note the selective exposure undertone in the wording) censored sources even after moving to a plural information environment, I ended up revealing a much more complex web of contextual influences on people's information practices. Immigrants’ media habits are jointly shaped by intrapersonal deliberation, micro-level contextual cues, mesolevel social networks, and macro-level structures.

This is my M.Phil. thesis and the start of my pursuit of a contextual approach to political communication.

Dissemination of conspiracy theories in... NETWORKS!

Mutual Endorsement Network of Anti-CCP Conspiracists on YouTube.

Backbone Shared Commenter Network of Anti-CCP Conspiracists on YouTube.

Anti-CCP Conspiracists on YouTube

I am leading a series of research investigating the anti-CCP conspiracy circle on YouTube. Considering political conspiracy theories as a combination of factually problematic information and populist morality, we draw on Habermas’s theory of communicative action to analytically distinguish the factual and moral components of conspiracy theories. 

Our first study (1) maps out the conspiratorial YouTubers' mutual endorsement network and probes into their political economic connections; (2) situates these channels onto a network of audience attention and studies how conspiracy theories are collaboratively produced by networked YouTubers and audiences; and (3) qualitatively analyze how conspiracists weave together factual and moral claims to build convincing narratives. 

Our ongoing research focuses on the audience of conspiracy videos. Anti-CCP conspiracy YouTube is a transnational space where mainland Chinese, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau audiences meet and interact with each other. We use an n-gram topic model to understand the topical focuses of each audience segment and take steps to build a supervised machine learning classifier to identify truth and moral rightness claims in the comment section. Our central question is: Given that conspiratorial YouTubers use legitimate moral claims to package their problematic facts, are audiences falling prey to misinformation or seeking moral commiseration? While answering this question, we pay special attention to the "moderation" effect of sociocultural contexts in different Sinophone societies.

Under Review: Qin, Abby Youran, Xiao, F., & Dai, L. Tell China's conspiracy well: Networks and narratives of Anti-CPC YouTube influencers. Paper presented at the 108th Annual National Communication Association (NCA) Conference, New Orleans, USA.

In Preparation: Qin, Abby Youran, Xiao, F., & Dubree, W. Under Conspiracy Videos We Meet: Facts, Norms, and Communities in a Transnational Sinophone Conspiracy Sphere. Poster presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) 2023 Annual Conference, Washington, USA.

[Graduate Student Research Funding ($800) - School of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison.]


Political communication sits in social networks,

Social networks sit in...


Do Places of An Ideology Connect with Each Other?

We take a spatial approach to understand political homophily and a network approach to explain the growing spatial polarization in the U.S. by examining county-level political homophily. 

We first calculated all U.S. counties’ ratio of like-minded to cross-cutting connectivity based on human mobility data and the Facebook friendship network (see left-hand figures). Then, we used GLMNet and spatial lag models to explore how a county’s political, economic, and sociocultural characteristics are related to its tendency towards political homophily. We further conducted geographically weighted regression analyses to map out spatial regimes based on different driving mechanisms of local political homophily. By describing and rigorously explaining various ecological factors’ associations with counties’ homophilic tendencies, we bring in a macro-level perspective to enrich our understanding of political homophily and lay the empirical groundwork for further theory building.

In Preparation: Qin, Abby Youran, Dubree, W., & Wagner, M. Do places of an ideology connect with each other? A spatial approach to political homophily.

[Summer PA Award ($7,000) & Conference Travel Grant ($1,000) - Elections Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison]

Mediated communication is performed to, hopefully, create tangible & physical outcomes.

How Much does Inclusive Local Media Cost?

We seek to collect a comprehensive database of news articles published by 500+ local media outlets across the U.S., use machine learning techniques to analyze their contents and incorporate geographical information to assess how well they serve local communities in various aspects.

In Preparation: Dubree, W. & Qin, Abby Youran. How much does inclusive local media cost: A generalized workflow for journalism performance assessment and budget calculation.

[Research Grant ($5,000) - DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy, Duke University]

Actually, I do have some more publications - a research article and some book reviews (clearly, I just cannot stop talking about what I just read)... Please refer to my CV for more details.

Thanks for reading through my journey of putting political communication into place. The journey is ongoing, and I'll keep this log updated.