Universität Zürich

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“My Way or No Way”: Political Polarization and Disagreement Among Immigrant Influencers and Their Followers


Daniela Jaramillo-Dent

Politics and Governance, 11(2). https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v11i2.6375

This article explores the online discussions between Carlos and Lizzy, two Latin American immigrant influencers in the United States with profiles on TikTok and Instagram. The dataset comprises a 90-minute live debate between them, that took place on September 25th, 2021, broadcast on Instagram and available on one of the profiles, as well as 1200 comments by 933 different viewers, received during the broadcast. The analysis relies on previous research on polarization, deliberation, and disagreement on social media platforms and it provides insights regarding the political and ideological diversity that exists among immigrant influencers and their followers. It focuses on the discursive strategies deployed by these content creators to discuss issues related to immigration reform and activism from two distinct political stances. It also provides a glimpse into topics of interest for the immigrant community as reflected by these content creators and commenting followers. The findings reflect the value of the ongoing relationship between content creators and their followers in the personal support and acceptance Carlos receives. In contrast, Lizzy is largely rejected and attacked, but a few of her arguments resonate with viewers. Comments about the debate itself are mostly negative due to the perceived low quality of the arguments, the mocking attitude of both debaters, and the need for a moderator to control the times. Comments that are critical of the debate often describe expectations of a more civil discussion and pathways to improve future debates.