Automated video analysis in legislative research (2018-2021)

I am currently heading a research project at the Collaborative Research Center 884 “The Political Economy of Reforms” at the University of Mannheim together with Thomas Gschwend and Rainer Stiefelhagen. The project aims to study the potential of automated video analysis for political research. We hope to contribute to the broadening of the methods portfolio in the social sciences that is currently under way. As audio and video data are increasingly ubiquitous and easily accessible in the digital age, it is important that the social sciences are equipped with the necessary tools to make sense of such data.

Representation and inequality in local politics (2020-2022)

In collaboration with Martin Gross from the LMU Munich, I am running a DFG-funded research project to investigate patterns of representation and inequality in German local politics. Based on a variety of textual data sources (parliamentary questions, local manifestos, minutes of the council meetings) and relying on automated text analysis, we assess to what extent neighborhoods are fairly represented in municipal politics.

Courts under pressure: How social media change political discourses about the rule of law in modern democracies (2021-2024)

Funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, I am collaborating with Christoph Hönnige and Philipp Köker from the Leibniz University Hannover to study the effects of social media on political discourses about the rule of law. Social media is fundamentally changing the nature of political discourse in modern democracies. As political actors have become less dependent on traditional journalistic gatekeepers, they are able to propagate ideas that would not have found a public forum in the past. Exploiting this changing communication context, right-wing populist parties have been most eager and successful in shifting the goalposts of acceptable political discourse. Building on this idea, the project studies how social media has impacted discourses on the rule of law. Given their unique status in Western political systems, courts and high courts in particular are deeply dependent on public trust. This trust has been eroded in many places, where populist parties have attacked high courts, arguing that an independent judiciary places illegitimate constraints on the alleged popular will. To trace the impact of social media on public discourses on the rule of law, the project analyzes discourses in social and traditional media over a ten-year period in a four-country sample, comprising Estonia, Germany, Poland, and the United Kingdom.