Georg P. Mueller - The Impact of Social Homophily on the Virtual Encounter Simulation of Value Conflicts

  • Presenting author: Georg P. Mueller (University of Fribourg (Switzerland))

  • Authors: Georg P. Mueller

  • Session: C04B - Public Choice [2] - Wednesday 16:00-17:00 - Marietta-Blau Hall

  • Slides: PDF

Homophily describes the tendency of individual actors to associate with others who share their social characteristics like class, educational attainments, age, religion, etc. On the one hand, homophily may lead to the segmentation of society into ideologically homogeneous filter bubbles that are unwilling to adopt undesirable new information. On the other hand, by this segmentation homophily may reduce the level of intra-societal value conflicts. The present paper analyzes this second aspect of homophily by means of virtual encounter simulations.*) This is a microsimulation method that randomly matches dyads of persons and compares their opinions, which were collected in standardized interviews. By aggregating the value conflicts between such randomly matched pairs it is possible to determine the virtual conflict at the societal level. The result depends on the random process of matching persons that can be varied according to the type and the strength of homophily: class-based homophily is e.g. likely to yield other results than religion-based homophily and tight group boundaries probably lead to other conflict scores than weak ones.

As an illustration of the mentioned method the author uses the “National Identities” module 2003 of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), which contains information about desired criteria of national citizenship that are also relevant for the naturalization of immigrants. In many countries there are currently conflicts about these criteria that can be reproduced by virtual encounter simulations. By variation of homophily on the basis of social class, educational attainments, or birth cohort it is possible to study the amount of intra-societal conflict about desired citizenship and ways of naturalization. Due to the high standardization of the ISSP interviews, results can be compared between countries. Moreover, it is possible to analyze conflict dynamics resulting from the growing segmentation of society into ideologically homogeneous filter bubbles.

*) Georg P. Mueller (2021). Virtual Encounter Simulations: A New Methodology for Creating Conflict Data. In: P. Mariani and M. Zenga (eds.), Data Science and Social Research II, pp. 293-303. Cham, Springer. DOI 10.1007/978-3-030-51222-4_23 .