Publications in 2018

Nisser, Annerose and Nils B. Weidmann. "Online Ethnic Segregation in a Post-Conflict Setting"

European Journal of Communication 33(5) 

Existing research has shown that online networks are often segregated along identity lines, such as political ideology or religious views. Although online segregation should be specifically detrimental when appearing between ethnic groups in a post-conflict setting, to date we have no systematic evidence on the level of online ethnic segregation. To close this gap, the present study examines online ethnic segregation in a large ethnically mixed blogger network in a post-conflict society, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since politics has been found to enhance ethnic divides in the offline world, we additionally examine whether segregation is higher for bloggers engaging with political topics. Using large-scale webscraping, automated text analysis and Monte Carlo simulation, we find evidence for pronounced ethnic divisions. Furthermore, we find that political bloggers tend to have more ethnically segregated networks. The findings show that a broad public exchange transcending ethnic categories remains limited in the online context we study, and that those who dominate the online political debate tend to be those who in their social interactions put even more weight on ethnic categories than the average. 

Weidmann, Nils B. and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch. "Geodaten und deren Analyse in der Politikwissenschaft"

Handbuch Methoden der Politikwissenschaft, ed. C. Wagemann, M. Siewert und A. Goerres

Räumliche Daten und Phänomene spielen eine wachsende Rolle in der Politikwissenschaft. Durch die Entwicklung von Geografischen Informationssystemen (GIS) und Geodatensätzen werden Wissenschaftlern neue und mächtige Analysewerkzeuge an die Hand gegeben. In diesem Kapitel geben wir eine kurze Einführung in die Verwendung räumlicher Methoden für die politikwissenschaftliche Forschung. Wir beginnen mit grundlegenden Konzepten und diskutieren die Datentypen, die für die Speicherung räumlicher Daten verwendet werden. Anhand einiger Beispiele geben wir einen Einblick in verfügbare Datensätze, die in der Politikwissenschaft Verwendung gefunden haben. Wir beschreiben drei verschiedene Ansätze, wie GIS Werkzeuge und Daten eingesetzt werden können und diskutieren die Schwierigkeiten, die dabei auftreten können.

Updated and translated version of Kristian Skrede Gleditsch and Nils B. Weidmann. Richardson in the Information Age: GIS and Spatial Data in International Studies. Annual Review of Political Science, 2012.

Crabtree, Charles and Nils B. Weidmann. "Internet Service Provision under Authoritarian Rule: A Field Experiment in Belarus"


Do authoritarian regimes strategically limit the opposition’s Internet access? By constricting Internet access to potential challengers, governments can reduce the need to censor (since anti-regime content would be less likely to be produced and read) and also the need for large infrastructure shutdowns (which may harm the government). Cross-national work shows that political exclusion is associated with significantly lower rates of connectivity for the affected groups, but cannot tell us whether this pattern is because governments strategically limiting Internet access of the political opposition. We test this mechanism with a field experiment in Belarus. We email support centers of the national telecommunications provider and vary partisan cues in our emails. In line with the strategic exclusion mechanism, we find a tendency that opposition support leads to lower response rates for Internet-related service requests. Due to the low response rate, however, our findings largely fail to reach conventional levels of significance.

Weidmann, Nils B., Sabine Otto and Lukas Kawerau. "The Use of Positive Words in Political Science Language" 

PS: Political Science & Politics 51(3) 

Political science prides itself on objective and methodologically rigorous research. This should be reflected in a clear and concise writing style that convinces readers by the content of research, and not by the language that is used to report about it. In this short note, we demonstrate that is true only to a limited extent. We show that, similar to recent findings from natural science research, the frequency of positive words that political scientists use to describe their research has increased markedly over the last several decades. At the same time, however, the magnitude of this increase is much less pronounced. The article discusses and analyzes different potential explanations for this trend. We suspect that it can at least partly be attributed to changing norms in the discipline, where research framed in a positive way is more likely to be published.