post-polarized society

Polarization is a paradoxical phenomenon. Declining in research, growing in perception.

The "Post-Polarized Society"-project aims to explore and counteract negative polarization among young individuals in vocational education in The Netherlands (MBO). It seeks to encourage participants to delve deeper into the understanding of how ideas and opinions are framed and presented online, and how this can affect perceptions.

Why do we seem so devided?

Interestingly, social research shows that generally speaking our public opinion is converging. There is a large and growing majority on many societal subjects, ranging from social issues to climate action. However, research also shows that people indicate that polarization is of growing concern, leading to feelings of sadness and the perception is damaging democratic processes.

In other words: the silent majority is more silent than ever, leading to what was already observed 100 years ago:

If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences

Isaac Thomas 1928
Figure 1: Pulling a phone apart

Countering online polarization

A key focus of the project is the examination of the effects of algorithmic reinforcement. Building upon the “Harmful Behavior Online” report by the Rathenau Institute, we bring insight into where digital platforms tend to amplify certain views based on a novel AI-based assessment tool. A new social media simulator and workshop materials will be developed as well.

Finding middle ground

Recognizing the significant impact of these mechanisms, the project aims to foster understanding and reflective thinking about these influences among the youth.

Migration and more

We aim to tackle polarization by addressing pressing issues. These are not set in stone at the start of the project. In fact, the students and teachers will determine what issue we will focus on.

Full co-creation

Throughout the entire project we involve the target group in every step. In co-creation sessions we determine the subjects, develop and test the tools.

Ultimately, we hope to encourage the development of new narratives and perspectives that promote positive dialogue, helping to reverse patterns of negativity.

Project details
Some additional info:

Project partners:

Project duration:

  • 2023 – 2025

Project funder:

Dit project wordt mede mogelijk gemaakt met steun van SIDN fonds. SIDN fonds staat voor een sterk internet voor iedereen. Het fonds ondersteunt projecten met maatschappelijke meerwaarde, die bijdragen aan een sterker internet, sterke internetgebruikers, of die zich richten op de publieke waarden en maatschappelijke kant van het internet. Zie voor meer info: