Dr. Tetsuro Kobayashi, an associate professor in the Department of Media and Communication at City University of Hong Kong, has recently published a paper in New Media & Society, one of the top journals in Communication. This study qualified the widely shared view that the high-choice nature of social media use leads to political polarization by focusing on the moderating role of Hong Kong people's complex identity. By analyzing three datasets collected in Hong Kong, where Chinese and Hong Kongese identities are constructed in a nonmutually exclusive way, this study found that (1) partisan selectivity in media use is reliably detected among those with single Hong Kongese identity, but not among those with dual identities of Hong Kongese and Chinese, (2) the political use of social media polarizes the attitudes and affects of single identifiers, whereas it has depolarizing effects on dual identifiers, and (3) these contrasting effects on polarization between single and dual identifiers have downstream consequences for political participation in Hong Kong. These findings have profound implications for the social and political conflict in Hong Kong which has been intensified since June 2019.
Kobayashi, T. (online first). Depolarization through social media use: Evidence from dual identifiers in Hong Kong. New Media & Society.