Research team

Media, Movements and Politics (M2P)

Expertise

My research is situated in the broad field of political sociology. Herein I focus on five specific research domains. 1. Quantitative research with regards to te political participation of social groups (age, ethnicity and gender) 2. Quantitative supply- and demand side based research regarding the explanation of the personalization of electoral behavior of the public 3. Quantitative measurement of public opinion regarding high technological applications, such as nuclear energy 4. Social theory building regarding the conceptualization of solidarity and alienation 5. This theoretical knowledge I subsequently test in content analytical research of solidarity claims in the political communication of parties and voters.

Towards effective radiation protection based on improved scientific evidence and social considerations - focus on radon and NORM (RadoNorm). 01/09/2020 - 31/08/2025

Abstract

RadoNorm is designed to initiate and perform research and technical development in support of European Union Member States, Associated Countries and the European Commission in their efforts to implement the European radiation protection Basic Safety Standards. The proposed multidisciplinary and inclusive research project will target all relevant steps of the radiation risk management cycle for radon and NORM exposure situations. RadoNorm aims to reduce scientific, technical and societal uncertainties by (i) initiating and performing research and technical developments, (ii) integrating education and training in all research and development activities, (iii) and disseminating the project achievements through targeted actions to the public, stakeholders and regulators. This will strengthen the scientific and technical basis for all key steps of the radiation risk management cycle for radon and NORM. The inclusive character of RadoNorm is given at different levels, by (i) targeting research and development on all steps of the management cycle, (ii) combining biomedical, and ecological research with mitigation development and social science research, (iii) integration of researchers from national radiation protection institutions, research centres, universities, and SME, (iv) incorporation of E&T activities in all undertakings, and (v) linking dissemination efforts directly to knowledge achievements and new recommendations. Steps addressed are the (a)characterization of radon and NORM exposures, (b)improving dosimetry, (c)assessing effects and risks for humans and the environment, (d)refining mitigation technologies, (e)raising the understanding for societal aspects, and (f)disseminating achievements. Further, an ambitious pan European E&T programme, will contribute to competence building and sustainability of the project findings. The project includes 56 partners from 22 EU member states and associated countries and collaboration with groups in the US and Canada.

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Project website

"Reading between the Numbers: The Use of Numerical Evidence in Political News and its Impact on the Public". 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2021

Abstract

Every day, we are exposed to a vast array of news about politics. We receive such news via different channels, be it newspaper articles, television shows, social media platforms, or simply conversations about politics with friends. Much of the information we receive contains numbers, such as crime statistics, immigration numbers, or opinion polls. These numbers aim to provide evidence for the argumentation made, yet it has been found that we connect numbers with credibility even when we cannot judge their validity. In times of fake news and filter bubbles, it is becoming difficult for us to come to a truly informed opinion based on facts. This research addresses this problem and aims to shed light on how and which numbers enter the news, as well as what the subconscious effects of them are on what we believe to be true. The project seeks to answer these two questions by first looking at whether journalists give preference to press releases when they contain numerical evidence. Second, the project examines whether recent numbers in the news were framed differently across several countries and news outlets. Third, it tests whether people believe news reports that contain numerical evidence more readily than reports without such evidence and asks whether this belief is strengthened over time if people see the same numbers repeatedly. Fourth, the project looks at whether people spread news that contain numbers more readily to their private circles, both onand offline.

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Communication of uncertainties related to radiolocial risk situations. 15/10/2018 - 14/01/2023

Abstract

Communication of Uncertainties in Radiological Risk Situations PhD Candidate: Ferdiana Hoti From a scientific standpoint, policy-making and communication about radiation risks continues to struggle with the issue of uncertainty. Due to the intensified societal and political pressure concerning transparency and the importance placed on risk communication, uncertainties concerning radiological risks will be increasingly in public and stakeholder focus. Communication on these issues needs to be improved and embedded within risk management approaches in order to improve political decision-making. The main focus of the PhD research is dedicated to the development of communication models and tools for radiological risks that allow for addressing scientific and societal uncertainties. Its goals are better decisions, better science, and better support for science. Hence, the objectives of the PhD are formulated as follows: Systematic literature review of risk communication models with particular emphasis on communication of uncertainties; Development and testing of new communication models addressing scientific and societal uncertainties through experimental research; Formulation of practical guidelines for risk communication about uncertainties. The PhD research makes use of political science and risk communication theories and practices, including framing theory conceptualisations (Iyengar 1991), information processing models and decision making models such as Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) by Cacioppo & Petty (1984), mental model approaches (Bostrom et al, 1994), and practical work with communication of risk (RISCOM model, Andersson, K. 1998). Three case studies, prevailing issues in European political agendas are considered in the PhD research: i.) emergency situations, ii.) long-lasting radiological exposure and iii.) decommissioning of nuclear installations. The methodology consists of integrating the findings of the on-going H2020 projects by using comparative case study approaches. Then the experimental design will be conducted with lay publics and selected stakeholders. After analysing the data together with the mediating variables, we will apply the results in practice by creating communication guidelines for uncertainties. The PhD research will contribute to improve policy-making under uncertainties, risk communication about uncertainties and help formulate practical guidelines for informed decision-making under uncertainties in the three case studies considered. This topic is promoted by Prof. Peter Thijssen, University of Antwerp, Belgium, co-promoted by Prof. Ortwin Renn , University of Stuttgart, Germany; Mentored by Dr. Tanja Perko, SCK•CEN & University of Antwerp, Belgium.

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Reading between the Numbers: The Use of Numerical Evidence in Political News and its Impact on the Public. 01/10/2017 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

Every day, we are exposed to a vast array of news about politics. We receive such news via different channels, be it newspaper articles, television shows, social media platforms, or simply conversations about politics with friends. Much of the information we receive contains numbers, such as crime statistics, immigration numbers, or opinion polls. These numbers aim to provide evidence for the argumentation made, yet it has been found that we connect numbers with credibility even when we cannot judge their validity. In times of fake news and filter bubbles, it is becoming difficult for us to come to a truly informed opinion based on facts. This research addresses this problem and aims to shed light on how and which numbers enter the news, as well as what the subconscious effects of them are on what we believe to be true. The project seeks to answer these two questions by first looking at whether journalists give preference to press releases when they contain numerical evidence. Second, the project examines whether recent numbers in the news were framed differently across several countries and news outlets. Third, it tests whether people believe news reports that contain numerical evidence more readily than reports without such evidence and asks whether this belief is strengthened over time if people see the same numbers repeatedly. Fourth, the project looks at whether people spread news that contain numbers more readily to their private circles, both onand offline.

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The politics of solidarity: solidarity claims in party rhetoric and why they matter. 01/10/2016 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

In this research project on solidarity we will answer three research questions. In the first part we focus on the operationalization of an actual solidarity typology, that integrates the solidarity theories of Durkheim and Honneth: Solidarity, what is in a word? The solidarity is based on four solidarity attitudes that each involve a particular form of causal attribution. Group-based and compassionate solidarity are organized around similarity. Exchange-based and empathic solidarity are organized around difference. Based on linguistic scales and implicit association tests of personality psychology we will distill different solidarity claims that can be connected to the Durkheim-Honneth theoretical synthesis. We define solidarity claims as rhetorical devices that link specific solidarity modes with certain solidarity referents. In the second part of this research project we evaluate which political claims are made by which party. Is solidarity only an issue of the left or are the partisan solidarity claims more nuanced, more variegated in a multi-party context? To this end we will perform both quantitative and qualitative content analysis of Belgian party manifestoes from 1985-2014 and the media reports that include direct solidarity claims by Belgian politicians. Based on preliminary results we expect an increase in the use of solidarity claims but it remains to be seen which type of solidarity claims are on the rise. Last but not least, in the third part we will evaluate whether the partisan solidarity claims resonate with the public: Does it matter what solidarity claims are made by political parties? In order to assess the congruence of partisan and public claims we will use factorial survey experiments. In our factorial survey experiment, we present individuals with fictional claims (vignettes) regarding the cause of a solidary attitude within which we will manipulate the solidarity mode and the referent. These vignettes will be integrated in two surveys: a panel study of generation students and a representative online survey in 2017. Based on these two surveys we will assess the reciprocal causal link between public and political parties. On the one hand we will test whether people vote for the party that is closest to their solidarity attitudes. On the other hand we will test whether parties 'socialize' their voters, and people adopt the solidarity claims of the party they voted for.

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Contextual variation in crisis-induced changes in public opinion and nuclear policies : the case of the Fukushima accident. 01/10/2014 - 30/09/2018

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand SCK. UA provides SCK research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Contextual variation in crisis-induced changes in public opinion and nuclear policies : the case of the Fukushima accident. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand SCK. UA provides SCK research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Understanding personalized voting. Media and campaign effects in local and national elections. 01/01/2013 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

In recent discussions about the changing features of politics in advanced industrial democracies personalization is considered one of the key developments. The central idea is that individual politicians have taken a more central position in politics at the expense of political parties. Voters may increasingly make their electoral choices based on individual attributes of candidates, politicians may act more as individual actors and less as party members, and the media may represent politics more as a confrontation of individuals. However, it remains unclear how individual voting behaviour is influenced by the personalization of media coverage and campaigning. Particularly, one may wonder to what extent these two communication channels stimulate voters to think of individual characteristics that are purely individually based (e.g. gender) or rather party based (e.g. ballot position). Furthermore, the effectiveness of these channels may depend on the institutional context (local vs. national). Because Belgium appears to be a critical case for such an analysis, we construct a comprehensive model based on the local elections of 2012 in Antwerp and the regional/national elections in 2014. To our knowledge, no one has evaluated the interaction effects of media attention, personal (campaign) communication, and institutional context-in one integrated multilevel model of personalized voting behaviour. Our results will be relevant for all countries with electoral systems that provide voters with ordered party lists and multiple preference votes. Moreover, the insights of our multi-level design could integrate the findings of largely distinctive research traditions.

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Development of customer satisfaction methodology of recreation domains in the province of Antwerp. 04/12/2009 - 31/10/2012

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Province of Antwerp. UA provides Province of Antwerp research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Risk communication in nuclear emergency management. 01/08/2008 - 31/07/2012

Abstract

The main objective of this Ph.D. research is to develop a conceptual and theoretical analysis of risk communication for nuclear emergency management. The work to be performed within the proposed Ph.D. program has the aim of designing a nuclear emergency risk communication model for the performance, development and evaluation of risk communication before, in between and after a nuclear crisis. Risk communication for nuclear emergency management will be approached by a) in-depth study of the factors influencing the response to communications and subsequent behaviors; (b) identify relevant target populations according to these factors and (c) development and testing of communication in different phases of the communication cycle, for selected subgroups. The main instrument used for this study will be a large scale public opinion survey of the Belgian population. Moreover to assess the degree of acceptance and retention of the communications we will additionally integrate an experimental design in the survey research, as well as a number of focus groups.

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Risk perception study of the Belgian population. 15/12/2007 - 01/08/2008

Abstract

This research project has two main objectives. On the one hand it involves the preparation of a massive risk perception study of the Belgian population. On the other hand it will enable us to work out a PhD-project for which we will search external funding. A more specific objective is to evaluate to what extent both experimental designs and audiovisual material can be integrated into a traditional CAPI-survey.

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Satisfaction study "Focus on Deurne". 01/09/2007 - 31/10/2011

Abstract

In this research project we focus on the life and political satisfaction of the 70.000 inhabitants of the district of Deurne. In order to do so, we apply a mixture of both quantitative and qualitative techniques. On the one hand we use multilevel models to determine the influential explanatory factors behind satisfaction. In this models we use individual survey data as well as administrative statistics related to the relevant statistical sectors. We will draw a random sample of 700 respondents, proportionally fitted with regard to the statistical sectors. On the other hand we will bring some of those respondents together to discuss some 'critical incidents' that came up in the survey. This way we hope to get a better insight in the processes that lead to dissatisfaction.

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Determinants of preferential vote-shares in (sub-)local elections. The city council and district council elections in Antwerp of October 2006. 01/03/2006 - 31/12/2007

Abstract

In this project we look for the factors determining (the share of) preferential votes of individual candidates. We focus on the city council and district council elections in Antwerp that will be organized in 2006. Unlike other research that is based only on administrative data, we use survey data for the candidates, as well as for the members of the slating committees. This data will be compared with similar data of the first district council elections of 2000. This way we will be able to assess the efficacy of decentralization initiatives.

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The scope of the intergenerational solidarity underlying the Belgian pension schemes. Babybusters versus babyboomers. 01/10/2003 - 31/12/2004

Abstract

The aging of the population is a major challenge for the Belgian pay-as-you-go pension schemes. In this research project we investigate to what extent the present policies shift the expenses on to the babybust generation. First of all we will establish the direction and the strength of the current and future relevant flows of funds. Inspired by the influential work of Louise Russell, we will additionally take into the economical contexts that the different generations experienced over their life spans.

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Local networks and political recruiting. The missing-ling between political demand and political supply. 01/01/2002 - 31/12/2004

Abstract

In Antwerp, one third of the votes go to an extreme right-wing party. To restore the dialogue between the citizens and the local government, directly elected district councils were created, with own capacities and budget. The main theme of this research is whether this intra-communal decentralisation will succeed or not. In what degree do the political parties have contact with their electorate? Are the councillors and party-militants sufficiently inserted in the social life of their neighbourhood or district? Is the amount of their social and cultural capital a necessary condition for succes? Are parties, whose members have more social and cultural capital, able to maintain better contacts with the electorate?

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Local networks and Political recruitment 01/07/2000 - 30/09/2000

Abstract

With reference to the local elections of October, 8th 2000, all candidates for the Antwerp District Councils of the six traditional parties will be questioned by a written questionaire. The former of the several party's lists will be interviewed. We intend to sketch the profile of the candidates on party's lists in an urban environment. Which principles were used by the formers to compose a 'good' party's list? Were they able to meet their own standards? What was the motivation of the candidates to join the list? Social capital theories can be tested.

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