On October 1st, 2017 the autonomous government of Catalonia decided to set a unilateral self-determination referendum with the continuous opposition of the Spanish government. This political conflict was extensively covered by all the Spanish media and attracted worldwide attention through the coverage of international media institutions in many different countries. This thesis aims to explore the online media consumption habits of Catalan citizens during that period by focusing on to what extent selective media exposure relate to polarized attitudes. Adopting a quantitative approach, it was distributed a cross-sectional online survey through different Facebook and WhatsApp groups, of different political leanings that helped for the configuration of a non-random sample of 237 Catalans. The results of this research show that there is a relationship between having a higher polarized attitude and having a higher level of selective media exposure to political concordant online media. The nature of this relationship demonstrates that individuals with a higher polarized attitude are trusting more the media organizations following like-minded political stance while they show untrustworthiness towards politically dissimilar media organizations. Moreover, according to the research results, the stance of pro-independence supporters displayed a higher selective media exposure towards Catalan-based online news outlets than pro-unitarism supporters towards Spanish-based online news outlets. This entailed that pro-independence supporters showed a higher level of trust in Catalan-based online media than pro-unitarism supporters towards Spanish-based online media. However, the polarization of attitudes did not create animosity between individuals of different political stances since it was not found a significant level of affective polarization towards out-group individuals. In the case of affective polarization to contrary political elites there was a relation between having an unfavorable opinion towards pro-referendum or against-referendum politicians and being a pro-unitarism or pro-independence supporter. Overall, is relevant to highlight the toleration towards discrepant opinions among the Catalan society but continuing studying these media phenomena before it becomes a bigger issue for democratic politics.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, culture, society, Polarization, Selective media exposure, Catalan Referendum, Online news outlets, Spanish media
Thesis Advisor J. Ferreira Goncalves
Persistent URL hdl.handle.net/2105/50085
Series Media, Culture & Society
A. Castarlenas Recoder. (2019, June 24). Polarization and selective media exposure: a look into the online news outlets consumption habits of Catalans during the Catalan Referendum. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/50085