I am a SNSF Ambizione Grant Holder (Senior Researcher) at the University of Zurich and an incoming Associate Professor of Political Science at the Department of Political Science at Aarhus University. My major research interest focuses on trying to understand how norms shift in our societies. For instance, in my SNF Ambizione Project I study how the emergence of radical parties changes people’s perception of norms in politics, discourses and behavior (see: here). In my research, I seek to address research questions which are relevant to both the academic as well as the public debate. My studies are primarily empirically oriented using research designs which seek to rigorously test theoretical arguments mostly with (quasi-)experimental designs.
This study examines the relationship between crimes attributed to immigrants and xenophobic hate crimes against refugees at the local level. We argue that localized crime events attributed to immigrants can lead to xenophobic responses whereby natives exact retribution against uninvolved out-group members. We examine such intergroup conflict dynamics between immigrants and natives in Germany, a country that has experienced a sharp increase in both the foreign-born population and hate crimes in recent years. Our empirical analysis leverages fine-grained geo-coded data on more than 9,400 hate crimes and 60,000 immigrant-attributed crime events between 2015 and 2019. Using a regression discontinuity in time design (RDiT), we show that the daily probability of hate crimes doubles in the immediate aftermath of an immigrant crime event in a local community. Our results speak to growing concerns about xenophobic violence in Western democracies.
Why do voters for the radical right appear to cluster in rural communities? This paper argues that what is frequently classified as the “rural” bases of radical right support in previous research is in part a proxy for something entirely different: communities that were in the historical “periphery” in the center-periphery conflicts of modern nation-state formation. Inspired by a classic state-building literature that emphasizes the prevalence of a “wealth of tongues” (Weber 1976)—or nonstandard linguistic dialects in a region—as a definition of the periphery, we use data from more than 725,000 geo-coded responses in a linguistic survey in Germany to show that voters from historically peripheral geographic communities are more likely to vote for the radical right today.
Whether powerful media outlets have consequential effects on public opinion has been at the heart of theoretical and empirical discussions about the media’s role in political life. The effects of media campaigns are difficult to study because citizens self-select into media consumption. Using a quasi-experiment – the 30-years boycott of the most important Eurosceptic tabloid newspaper, “The Sun”, in Merseyside caused by the Hillsborough soccer disaster – we identify the effects of “The Sun” boycott on attitudes towards leaving the EU. Difference-in-differences designs leveraging public opinion data spanning three decades, supplemented by official refer- endum results, show that the boycott caused EU attitudes to become more positive in treated areas. This effect is driven by cohorts socialised under the boycott, and by working class voters who stopped reading “The Sun”. Our findings have implications for our understanding of public opinion, media influence, and ways to counter such influence, in contemporary democracies.