Summer Tour to Reykjavik and Prague

I will present my paper „Theoretical reflections and empirical data on the rise of global Antisemitism“ in Prague at the ESA conference .

Abstract: The presentation discuses the main explanatory concepts of modern Antisemitism and examines their empirical validity using global data from the PEW population surveys. On the individual level three functions of Antisemitism are reviewed: the mental rationalization of confusing social processes, the projection of denied traits, and the construction of a national collective identity. Further it is argued that cultural opportunity structures play a vital role for the growth and thriving of Antisemitism in a specific society. Empirical multilevel analyses show that on the individual level especially Antisemitism’s function to offer a rationalization of social change is an important factor. On the context level I found that especially persons living in Muslim countries and in comparatively poor regions report strong antisemitic attitudes. The presentation concludes with a discussion of those findings.

In Reykjavik at the ESRA conference on July 16th, 2015 Ulf Liebe and me will present our paper „Using Factorial Surveys and Stated Choice Experiments to Investigate Discriminatory Attitudes and Preferences“.

Abstract: Empirical research on discrimination grapples with the social undesirability of its object. In many studies using regular survey methods, estimates are biased, and the social context of discrimination is not taken into account. Several methods have been developed, especially to deal with the first problem. In this regard, the estimation of the ‘true value’ of discriminatory attitudes is at the centre of interest. However, methodological contributions focusing on the social context of attitude communication and discriminatory behaviour, as well as the correlation between both, are rare. We present two experimental methods which address those issues: factorial surveys and choice experiments.

Old News

Heiko Beyer and Annette Schnabel @ BSA conference

Heiko Beyer and Annette Schnabel will present a paper on „Religion and Weltanschauung: The Politics of Religion and the Religiosity of the Political“ at the BSA conference in Glasgow on April 15th, 2015.

Abstract: During the last years, the politization of religion became more widespread: the recent emergence of the Islamic State (IS) is the most palpable manifestation of this trend, the take-over of social care by faith based communities, Churches and charities a more common one. Instead of a ‘banalization of religiosity’ we observe that religion regains importance as an ideology (‘weltanschauung’) showing political consequences. The presentation investigates this peculiar elective affinity of religion and politics theoretically and empirically. We want to contribute to a better understanding of how and why political agendas seem so compatible with religious ones and vice versa. First, we provide an analytical distinction between the concepts of ‘weltanschauung’ and ‘religion’, defining the former as constituted by beliefs about the social and the latter by beliefs about the transcendental. Subsequently we investigate mutual structural elements, as Manichean categorizations of good/evil, utopian ideas of salvation, and the ontological construction of meaning. The empirical part of our presentation presents evidence for these considerations. Using European Value Survey Data (EVS), we show correlations between different manifestations of weltanschauung and religious beliefs. We also tackle their embeddedness in social practices and memberships. Although the specific behavioral manifestations of religion and weltanschauung show differences they share a reinforcing function of the underlying belief system. The presentation contributes to understanding of how religion becomes politicized and politics get religiously loaded and the mechanisms behind.

New Paper on Discrimination

Heiko Beyer & Ulf Liebe (2015): Three Experimental Approaches to Measure the Social Context Dependence of Prejudice Communication and Discriminatory Behavior. Social Science Research 49: 343–355. [link]

Abstract: Empirical research on discrimination is faced with crucial problems stemming from the specific character of its object of study. In democratic societies the communication of prejudices and other forms of discriminatory behavior is considered socially undesirable and depends on situational factors such as whether a situation is considered private or whether a discriminatory consensus can be assumed. Regular surveys thus can only offer a blurred picture of the phenomenon. But also survey experiments intended to decrease the social desirability bias (SDB) so far failed in systematically implementing situational variables. This paper introduces three experimental approaches to improve the study of discrimination and other topics of social (un-)desirability. First, we argue in favor of cognitive context framing in surveys in order to operationalize the salience of situational norms. Second, factorial surveys offer a way to take situational contexts and substitute behavior into account. And third, choice experiments – a rather new method in sociology – offer a more valid method of measuring behavioral characteristics compared to simple items in surveys. All three approaches – which may be combined – are easy to implement in large-scale surveys. Results of empirical studies demonstrate the fruitfulness of each of these approaches.