From ESA – Strategies & Activities

President's Message Sue Scott
ESA Office Communiqué – Andreia Batista Dias Andreia Batista Dias
ESA Office Communiqué – Dagmar Danko Dagmar Danko
ESA Office Communiqué – Gisèle Tchinda-Falcucci Ricca Edmondson
13th ESA Conference Report Athens 2017 – ESA Christian Fuchs
13th ESA Conference Report Athens 2017 – LOC Apostolos G. Papadopoulos
PhD Summer School Athens 2017 Airi-Alina Allaste
ESA Journals News – European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology Ricca Edmondson
ESA Journals News – European Societies Michalis Lianos
RN Reports – RN06 Critical Political Economy Angela Wigger
RN Reports – RN15 Global, Transnational and Cosmopolitan Sociology Marco Caselli
RN Reports – RN33 Women’s and Gender Studies Consuelo Corradi
NA Reports – Austrian Sociological Association (OeGS) Martin Weichbold
NA Reports – Croatian Sociological Association (CSA) Jasminka Lažnjak
NA Reports – Danish Sociological Association (DSF) Anna Ilsøe
NA Reports – Italian Sociological Association (AIS) Enrica Amaturo
NA Reports – Lithuanian Sociological Association (LSA) Milda Ališauskienė
NA Reports – Portuguese Sociological Association (APS) João Teixeira Lopes
NA Reports – Swiss Sociological Association (SSA) Rainer Diaz-Bone
Thesis Spotlights – The spreading of hostility: Unraveling of social norms in communication Amalia Alvarez Benjumea
Thesis Spotlights – Aspirations, Attainments & Strategies: Descendants of Middle Eastern Immigrants on the Swedish Labour Market Pinar Aslan
Thesis Spotlights – Gendered Childhood, Media Beauty Ideals and the Role of Education Galatia Kallitsi
Thesis Spotlights – Discursive Construction and Materiality of Debt in Context of Housing: Forming Semi-Financialized Subjects Tomáš Samec
Thesis Spotlights – Controlling risks or continuously preventing the worst? Risk management in large financial organisations Anne van der Graaf

Thesis Spotlights – The spreading of hostility: Unraveling of social norms in communication

Issue 41: Metrics Wed 18 Apr 2018

Amalia Alvarez Benjumea, PhD student, Germany

Email: alvarezbenjumea [at]
Institution: University of Cologne and Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Time: August 2015 to February 2019
Supervisors: Fabian Winter (Max Planck Society) and Clemens Kroneberg (University of Cologne)

I am a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in Bonn, Germany, where I work in the Research Group “Mechanisms for normative change” under the supervision of Fabian Winter. I am also a PhD student at the Faculty of Management, Economics and Social Sciences at the University of Cologne, under the supervision of Clemens Kroneberg. I started my PhD on August 2015 and will, hopefully, be finished in February 2019. My thesis focuses on conditions under which social norms change, and how social feedback affects conformity to them. I have a special interest in social norms of communication, specifically in the relation between norms and the expression of prejudice and other (extreme) opinions. In my research, I use different methodological approaches, but with a focus on experimental methods.

An important part of my work focuses on how social norms regulate online hate speech, i.e., how expressing prejudiced views is inhibited by perceived social norms in online environments, and how external shocks can unleash such norms. We designed an online experiment in which participants were asked to participate in an experimentally controlled online forum. We constructed different experimental conditions to tackle hate speech: censoring hate content or using previous comments as informal sanctions. Data suggests that moderate censoring of hate speech has positive effects on the overall level of hate speech of subsequent comments. I also use the comments collected on the online forum to describe the effect of a series of terrorist attacks in Germany during the summer 2016 on the levels of online hate speech. I use pre and post attack data to identify a relaxation in social norms on hate speech against refugees.

My last project focuses on disentangling different mechanisms behind the unravelling of norms in communication. This is one of the first controlled experimental setups in an ecologically valid environment and presents some of the first experimental evidence investigating the social determinants of hate expression. This research adds to the literature on social norms, and shows how, regardless of people’s real preferences, social norms influence the public expression of certain opinions.