Political Speech from Corporate America: Sparse, Mostly for Democrats, and Somewhat Representative

Authors

  • Soubhik Barari NORC at the University of Chicago

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.51685/jqd.2024.icwsm.5

Keywords:

polarization, social media, corporate political speech, text-as-data

Abstract

How do corporations engage in political speech in the age of social media? Evidence suggests that online corporate brands employ a variety of partisan signals which include not only ideological positions but also more subtle, implicit appeals to partisans. Identifying and scaling a broad range of these signals in ≈2 million Twitter and Insta- gram posts from the 1,000 most popular corporate brands in the United States, I find that most corporate brands’ speech mirrors the speech of Democrats, but this is concentrated in a handful of brands and occurs in uneven bursts across time. Moreover, this communication is not as dishonest as popular narratives suggest: the majority of brands’ partisan speech well represents the political preferences of key stakeholders (e.g. employees, voters, and consumers) and is at least somewhat informative about corporate governance priorities (e.g. political spending, DEI outcomes, and cli- mate policy). These results provide a measured counterbalance to popular narratives of ‘woke capitalism’, suggesting that political speech from corporate America is, at worst, sometimes inconsistent with stakeholders and firm agendas rather than outright hypocritical.

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Published

2024-05-29

How to Cite

Barari, S. (2024). Political Speech from Corporate America: Sparse, Mostly for Democrats, and Somewhat Representative. Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media , 4. https://doi.org/10.51685/jqd.2024.icwsm.5

Issue

Section

ICWSM 2024 Special Issue