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Re-humanization in symbolic space

Re-humanization in symbolic space

Full project title: Re-humanization in symbolic space: factors of intergroup reconciliation in online interactions


There is a distinct public awareness and recognition of the problem of social polarization. That social polarization is both reflected in and triggered by between-group online abuse. This concern is also reflected in a large and growing body of scientific literature on online hate speech and dehumanizing language. However, researchers rarely focus on how groups with a history of hostility and confrontation come back to respectful dialogue and what structural, social and technological factors facilitate between-group reconciliation.

Motivated by these considerations, this project focusses on re-humanisation in online interactions. To do so, it monitors the transition from the frame embodying dehumanized perception of the outgroup to the one giving room to a more tolerant and humane treatment of the outgroup, focussing on the language used when discussing the outgroup, as this can shift from hostile to accepting.

The most striking manifestation of inter-group hostility is the relationship between nations at war. Therefore, the case study for my research is the relationship between Ukrainians, Russians, and Belarussians after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 as reflected in online social media interactions amongst the national groups of these three countries.

The eventual purpose of the study is to contribute to balanced and healthy relationships and constructive dialogue between social groups with a history of hostility and confrontation and to minimize factors provoking inter-group aggression and violence.

Key Information

  • Dieter Schwarz Stiftung gGmbH
  • Project dates:
    November 2022 - October 2023

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