Researching Attitudes Hostile to Democracy
Research at the Else Frenkel-Brunswik Institute is composed of three fields: attitudinal research, research in conflict spaces, and documentation of antidemocratic networks.
Through its research, EFBI supports Saxon civil society. To this end, it pursues the goal of researching all forms of hostility to democracy and informing Saxon society about authoritarian and antidemocratic issues, their dissemination and organization, and antidemocratic movements. The research is based on three complementary fields.
The research is based on representative population surveys that are conducted on a regular basis. For this purpose, EFBI researchers work with and make use of the “Leipzig Authoritarianism Studies,” a nationwide attitude survey conducted every two years, which has been led by Oliver Decker, the director of EFBI, and Elmar Brähler, a social psychologist, since 2002. In this way, statements on the prevalence and development of antidemocratic attitudes in Saxony can be collected and presented on a representative basis, and they can also be interpreted in comparison with the federal republic as a whole. Further analyses based on these comparisons will thus be possible. In addition, the team will draw on existing and planned surveys (e.g., Sachsenmonitor, Allbus, NEPS, and ESS).
RESEARCH IN CONFLICT AREAS
EFBI focuses on social space–oriented, participatory research with an activating emphasis. This means that civil society actors from Saxony are involved as experts in everyday life in the formulation of the research question and that the findings obtained are tested through communicative validation. The goal is to investigate the conditions of democratic political action, to analyze authoritarian mobilization strategies, to understand the emergence and sociopsychological function of antimodern ideologies, and to increase the ability of local democratic initiatives to act. The research in selected conflict spaces therefore ties in with existing civil society structures and in some cases with existing research.
INTERNET MONITORING AND DOCUMENTATION
The monitoring and documentation of antidemocratically motivated incidents are together a fundamental pillar of EFBI’s research activities. Among other things, the monitoring refers to the digital space. The aim is to observe and record right-wing extremist networks and structures on the internet, with a focus on social media activities of right-wing individuals and groups from Saxony. The social media monitoring is carried out by the Amadeu Antonio Foundation (AAS) on behalf of EFBI.
In addition, mobilization and networks are monitored throughout the country, for example the far-right music scene, the martial arts scene, and local neo-Nazi structures. Information from civil society is gathered for this purpose. In coordination with other existing structures and documentation systems, information on racist, anti-Semitic, and misogynist incidents is collected and correlated. The information gained from monitoring and documentation is made available to local decision-makers, initiatives, and the general public.
Here you can find an overview of the projects at the EFBI.