"(Not) Welcome to Digital Germany"? Causes and Mechanisms of Cyber-Discrimination

Research question/goal: 

As a concomitant symptom of the Corona pandemic, the digital arena has rapidly expanded as a venue for social interactions—both in Germany and worldwide. Hand in hand with this development, questions about digital discrimination are gaining relevance, both socially and scientifically. To date, however, there is hardly any research on (I) the situational causes of cyber-discrimination and (II) the situational mechanisms that lead to everyday discriminatory actions on the internet (e.g. based on ethnicity but also religion and/or gender).

With the project “(Not) Welcome to Digital Germany”? Causes and Mechanisms of Cyber-discrimination, we address these central research topics. Specifically, this project answers the following research questions: (1) What situational causes—for example, threats or fairness norms—and mechanisms influence discrimination in the digital space? (2) What role do ingroup and outgroup categorizations play in such processes? (3) Who discriminates against whom? (Ethnic) majorities against the minorities? Or also minorities against other minorities? (4) Beyond cause and effect, how do everyday discrimination mechanisms play out in the digital space? (5) In what ways are the circumstances of discrimination in digital and ‘real’ social spaces similar or different to each other?

Current stage: 

In 2023, we carried out a pretest to examine whether our measurement of online discrimination works. Subsequently, we coded, catalogued, and analysed the data. Results from the pretest have been presented at the MZES Ethnic Diversity Spring Workshop and at the FoDiRa Workshop about Discrimination and Racism. We also published a policy paper on initial descriptive results titled ‚Wer wird auf sozialen Medien diskriminiert und aus welchen Gründen? Diskriminierung auf Facebook, Instagram und Reddit’ in the inhouse publication series ‘MZES Fokus’. After having received feedback from several sources, the project team discussed and restructured some parts of the final vignette descriptions, which we then presented to previous and new study participants in the final phase of the data collection.

Fact sheet

2022 to 2024
Data Sources: 
Survey data, factorial survey, digital data
Geographic Space: 
Germany, "cyberspace"