MMM Workshop September 2023

Welcome and Introductory Remarks

Frank Schweitzer
Chair of Systems Design, ETH Zurich

13 Sep 2023, 09:30–09:50

Presentation Slides (PDF)


Polarization is studied in different disciplines. For the workshop, we aim at combining research on that topic from computational social science and political science, sociophysics and complexity science.

Each of these disciplines provides a unique perspective: Social and political scientists discuss the reasons and consequences for increasing polarization on various levels of society. Political scientists, in particular, study how this dynamics manifests itself in parliamentary processes, with the US Congress as a prime example. Computational social scientists approach the topic from a data science perspective, analyzing data from social media, mostly from Twitter. Using tools from machine learning (NLP, sentiment analysis) they also aim at measuring the level of polarization. Scientists from sociophysics and complexity science provide formal models for the dynamics of polarization, most often agent-based models and network models. These models allow to define polarization measures and to study mechanisms that increase, but also mitigate, polarization.

A deeper understanding of the multifaceted phenomena of polarization and cleavage requires that computational social scientists and complexity scientists engage more in political research. Conversely, social and political scientists need to be aware of the quantitative methods and formal models to measure polarization, beyond established surveys. The existing research gap manifests itself between disciplines, but also between scientific communities. Conferences or workshops that succeed in bringing these communities together are rare. The discourse is siloed in disciplinary activities. To break up such silos requires scientific translators, i.e. researchers with an experience in communicating with different scientific communities.

This workshop shall foster the interaction, and hopefully also the collaboration, between scientists from different communities. It receives financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) (Grant No: IZSEZ0_220344) and from the Chair of Systems Design (ETH Zurich). This allows us to continue, at a smaller scale, organizing scientific events relevant for political and computational social sciences. Our last symposium on Polarization and Radicalization took place at ETH Zurich in 2019 and attracted 200 international participants. Our workshop also complements our different ongoing research projects for analyzing social and political data sources, funded either by the SNSF or the Swiss Data Science Center (SDSC).

Relevant activities


Research projects