Issues that polarize the Dutch society

Dutch society seems deeply divided over cultural issues, most profoundly over (labour) immigration, integration of minorities and refugees and Islam. This research project investigates some of the key factors driving cultural and economic divisions in Dutch society by developing new measures for individual and societal polarisation. By unearthing which issues, political figures and parties are least and most polarising in Dutch society, we seek to understand both the causes and consequences of the deepening social and political disagreement. This research project benefits from access to opinions of millions of Dutch voters that were collected during national parliamentary elections. Having unprecedented access to the opinion-structure of millions of Dutch citizens allows us to see how their issue positions on the economy, European integration and cultural issues are related to one another and to evaluations of political figures and parties. In this project, we will develop a methodology and measures on polarisation that can be reliably applied in other political systems and social contexts as well. Such information is not relevant not only for academics, but for politicians, journalists and citizens as well that to gain from a deeper understanding of the mechanisms what drives us apart as a society and what could bring more social cohesion.

Team: Andre Krouwel, Ognjan Denkovski