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The effect social media have on political discourse has been subject of intense discussion, especially since the UK referendum and US elections in 2016. A researcher funded by the European Research Council (ERC) is trying to shed light onto the ways politicians use online social networks and the murky world of political algorithms.
A number of factors have played an important role in the evolutionary success of the human species. One of the undeniably fundamental factors has been our inherent ability to communicate. This capacity to perceive, respond to and coordinate behaviour with others has not only allowed us to survive, but also to thrive. The ERC-funded project SOCIAL ROBOTS headed by Prof. Emily Cross is aiming to gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of how we comprehend and coordinate our actions with other people and with robots to achieve mutual goals.
Regulating migration has become a key priority for European countries and, according to Prof. Katja Franko, crime control practices and penal cultures have evolved across the continent as a consequence. With ERC support, she has studied these new hybrid and intertwined forms of migration and crime control policies, a phenomenon she calls ‘Crimmigration control’.
Comprehensive new databases of migration flows and policy data since World War II highlight how some policies have had unintended effects.
Social networking platforms and other online activities can enable women migrants to maintain the links with their home countries, but also to connect to each other, thus encouraging their emancipation. Digital media could hence be rethought as a tool for participation and integration. These are preliminary findings of Prof. Sandra Ponzanesi’s study focusing on migrant women in three different European countries.
Some school systems in Europe are highly segregated, the Belgian one especially. Poorer standards of education are seen in schools where pupils are predominantly of immigrant background. Researchers are compiling new datasets and information about school composition and teaching cohesion to ensure segregation does not have to mean a difference in education standards.
The impact of migration on the economies of receiving countries is a fundamental question in economics. According to Prof. Christian Dustmann, current research is coming to different conclusions about the impact immigration has on wages and employment of native workers.
Global migration flows show a profound diversification of migrants’ groups in recent years. Their patterns of nationality, ethnicity, language, age, gender and legal status are growing ever more complex and migrants with ‘new diversity’ traits live in cities alongside people from previous immigration waves. Prof. Steven Vertovec’s comparative study helps understand how old and new waves of migrants meet, mix, interact and get integrated into a given society.
What do elections mean for citizens? What happens in the voters’ mind in the polling booth? How do elections’ practical arrangements affect the voter's final choice? The results of Prof. Michael Bruter’s EU/ERC funded research could help governments and Election Management Bodies to optimise democratic processes and improve voters’ satisfaction and turnout.
Thorsten Quandt is the Professor of Online Communication at the University of Münster, Germany. He is currently the Managing Director of the Department of Communication in Münster. From 2009-2012, he was the Chair of Online Communication and Interactive Media at the University of Hohenheim. He has a particular interest in digital games, interactive media and online journalism. His research project funded by the ERC shed light on the social foundations of online gaming.
Originally published in March 2017 as part of the multimedia campaign "ERC - 10 years – 10 portraits."