Political Identities in an Era of Alternative News

Research question/goal: 

The increasing spread of information from untrustworthy sources on the internet and on social media is linked to problematic forms of societal protest and negative changes in democratic culture. At the same time, political life seems to be increasingly determined by voters’ rejection of ‘the other side’ rather than a sense of identification or attachment to any clearly defined ‘us’. Against this backdrop, this project investigates the interplay of populist alternative news and political identities among citizens in Germany. Through existing web-tracking data and newly collected survey data, this project explores (1) how the content of untrustworthy articles and the profile of its consumers changed across time, (2) the effect of both positive and negative partisanship on belief in misinformation, and (3) the effect of believing misinformation on attitudes towards political actors and whether it persists even after corrective information.

Current stage: 

We are currently discussing a joint proposal with internal partners at the MZES to extend the focus of the project beyond populist alternative news towards mainstream news and political text data, such as party manifestos and parliamentary speeches. Thus, we will retain the original project idea but extend the focus to other areas, in which right-wing populist rhetoric and strong political identities are nourished. A proposal for submission to a funding agency is in preparation and will be submitted in 2024.

Fact sheet

2022 to 2027
in preparation
Data Sources: 
survey data (to be collected during the project), secondary analysis of web-tracking data
Geographic Space: