Work Package 2

To establish the link between democratic (authoritarian) tools of indoctrination and the lasting support among ordinary citizens, DEMED will be the first project to create unique overtime comparative measures of political culture relying on different forms of data. DEMED will conduct a mixed method research design to combine qualitative data collection with cutting-edge quantitative approaches.

Measuring political culture using cross-national surveys: In a first step, we plan to test our new theoretical framework, using a newly established and innovative methodology by team member Dr Claassen (Glasgow) for measuring authoritarian and democratic values. 

Measuring political culture using social media data: To validate and complement the measures of political culture, we will further create innovative measures of political culture using social media content. Available on social media for analysis are the thoughts and colloquially expressed opinions of billions of people. This project leverages an existing database of five billion tweets, collected by team member Dr Wilson (Brandeis) since 2012. This dataset represents the full text, location and other meta-data for some five billion tweets, worldwide. This data represents an extraordinarily rich sample of the political discourse throughout the developing and developed world. 

Measuring political culture using qualitative focus groups: It is important to provide an in-depth picture of how indoctrination affects individuals’ political values and identities. Anti-democratic sentiments could stem from a misunderstanding of what democracy is and how it works, or it could represent a deeper rejection of democratic principles. Hence we will complement the quantitative approach with a qualitative comparative study of two former (or current) dictatorships.

Case selection: Following the most similar system research design, the countries included will provide a systematic comparison between one pair of cases, which are very similar in most characteristics, but vary in the level of indoctrination - the key independent variable of this project. An indicative selection of cases is based on existing case studies focusing mainly on the education system: One possible pair would be to compare Poland and Hungary, two former Communist countries. 

Focus groups: In each of the two selected countries, we will conduct ten focus groups (FGs) with different segments of society (age, economic hardship, rural/urban). Each FG will include about eight participants. The focus groups will be administered in collaboration with local companies.