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IIS - Andreas Flache - 22/03/2019

NASP International and Interdisciplinary Seminars

Andreas Flache (University of Groningen)
Segregation and polarisation: two sides of the same coin? Insights from computer simulation studies

22 March 2019, 14.30
Room A
NASP Graduate School in Social and Political Sciences
Via Pace, 10 - Milan

Abstract

Due to mass migration, ethnic diversity is increasing in many Western countries. One issue in particular is that ethnic diversity seems to come almost inevitably with segregation of different subgroups in their spatial and social networks. Many fear that segregation may threaten societal consensus and foster instead a polarized society with large opinion divisions between and strong coherence within opposed factions. The current paper presents computational agent-based models that highlight alternative and competing theoretical perspectives on the effects of segregation on polarization. Two classes of models are compared that formalize different behavioral theories of social influence. Models assuming repulsive influence explain polarization based on psychological mechanisms derived from balance theory. Models assuming reinforcing influence draw on the theory of persuasive argument communication. It is shown how different models entail competing implications. Models assuming repulsive influence suggest that segregation may reduce polarization, models assuming persuasive influence imply the opposite effect. It will be discussed how an integration of computational modelling with empirical data – both micro-level and macro-level – is needed to better understand how segregation affects opinion pluriformity and polarization. 

This seminar is part of the NASP International and Interdisciplinary Seminars Series 2019.

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