On May 02, 2022, the workshop “Conflict Communication 2.0” organized by the Düsseldorf Institute for Internet and Democracy took place as part of DGPuK 2022.
In the premises of Werft01 in Reisholzer Werftstraße, the researchers:inside exchanged ideas on theory, methodology and interdisciplinary approaches to researching conflict communication 2.0 and outlined starting points for a research program to analyze communication in the context of conflicts.
After a welcome by DIID spokesperson Prof. Dr. Christiane Eilders, Dr. Anna Soßdorf led through the day. The first item on the agenda was a brief collection of the participants’ expectations and demands of the workshop. Here some questions were already raised, for example the connection between conflicts and rituality or whether cooperation is a condition for conflicts, which were deepened in the further course of the workshop.
Subsequently, working groups dealt with the theoretical foundations of the research program, the applicable methodological approaches and the question of interdisciplinarity.
In the subgroup on theories, the agonistic perspective according to Mouffe was discussed as a starting point. Fundamentally, the approach is based on a conceptualization of political actions as characterized by conflicts. Accordingly, antagonism and enemy images are core components of politics. Through appropriate rules, procedures and discursive processes, antagonism can be transformed into agonism, in which political opponents are no longer treated as enemies but as legitimate counterparts. Furthermore, the visibility of discourses in times of pay-walls and filter bubbles as well as the formation of individual and group identity through conflicts were discussed. All in all, there was no commitment to a theoretical basis. However, it was agreed that agonistic theory can be a good starting point for further considerations. At the same time, this basis would have to be extended by further theoretical approaches.
The subgroup on methods talked about different levels of conflict, access to data sources, and potential research designs. For example, conflicts can be analyzed from a media perspective, from the perspective of collective actors, or from an individual perspective. Depending on the starting point, a different methodological approach needs to be taken.
In terms of data sources, the researcher:s talked about the differences in accessibility of data on different platforms. Besides being limited to one platform, basic data access could be improved through practice collaboration with private or public providers or with diverse associations.
With regard to the research design, only a few statements could be made as long as there was no concrete research question, or no theoretical foundation. In conclusion, however, it was agreed that a mix of methods and cooperation with other disciplines is the royal road, which brings us to the last subgroup dealing with interdisciplinarity.
Basically, different approaches to interdisciplinarity were discussed. It was agreed that the project at hand should follow an integrative interdisciplinary approach, where a common perspective and vision is developed and theories and methods from the different fields are combined. In doing so, one is aware of the fundamentally different perspectives and the resulting problem.
All in all, it was agreed at the end of the discussions that there is still a long way to go before a concrete research program exists. Nevertheless, it became clear that the foundation for a fruitful research program had been laid, which will now be complemented by further activities in the follow-up to the workshop.
The DIID team would like to thank all participants for the exciting discussions.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)