Project: Visual Persuasion in a Transforming Europe: the affective and polarizing power of visual content in online political discourse

Acronym PolarVis (Reference Number: CHANSE-148)
Duration 01/10/2022 - 01/10/2025
Project Topic This project examines the mechanisms through which visual content becomes a beacon of political aggregation and polarization in political movements, and assesses the outcomes of this process. Visual content is powerful in political communication, and it is increasingly salient in the digital age. Various types of visual content, such as images, videos, and memes, are persuasive, emotive, and affective, and they are widely shared in online environments. Visual content plays an important symbolic, emotional and (dis)connecting role in political movements, where it becomes the focus of social and algorithmic negotiation. Even as movement and countermovement actors use visual content to mobilize and frame issues, citizens play a part by modifying and sharing it, and platforms mediate these processes. The project focuses on a controversial issue of cross-generational concern, climate change, and specifically the youth climate movement. The project deploys a methodological approach that combines qualitative, computational, textual, and network analysis of visual content to address the issue in four research areas. The project will investigate 1) how visual content enters movements’ repertoire of communication; 2) the characteristics of visual content, its framing and how it can support the emergence of visual narratives; 3) how online audiences react to visual content and how counter-publics and delegitimization processes emerge; and 4) how visual content propagates online. Building on a unique combination of methods the project will forge a unique interdisciplinary framework from visual framing and content analysis, interview methodology, and state of the art in computational methods that will not only produce scientific advancement but, through an extensive activity of knowledge exchange and public outreach, it will directly benefit the many stakeholders in the area of climate change.
Network CHANSE
Call Transformations: Social and Cultural Dynamics in the Digital Age

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Uppsala University, Department of Political Science Coordinator Sweden
2 IT University of Copenhagen Partner Denmark
3 Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence/ Institute for Politi Partner Hungary
4 University of Vienna Partner Austria
5 University of Copenhagen Partner Denmark
6 State of Green Observer Denmark