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Inaugural lecture Prof U. (Ulrike) Schultze: Social Media and Solidarity; The good, the bad and the ugly

When:Fr 17-03-2023 14:15 - 15:00
Where:Aula Academy Building, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

The prevalent use of social media is frequently regarded as a key driver of the increasing divisions and polarization in societies all over the world. As people are disproportionately drawn to emotionally-charged speech, the content ranking algorithms that orchestrate what is presented to a given user, tend to serve up attention-grabbing posts. Social media are thus seen as playing an influential role in promoting bigoted speech, “alternative facts”, incivility and social division. In short, these technologies increasingly put solidarity at risk.

Solidarity refers to feelings of devotion towards known or imagined others and a moral commitment to trust and assist one another. As its etymological root suggests, solidarity promises solidity in the bonds that hold societies together. Organizations and institutions such as schools, as well as health insurance and pension schemes, have historically benefited from solidarity as a taken-for-granted, free resource. The social peace and pro-social disposition it generates among people, afford organizational cultures in which employees are willing to go beyond their job descriptions to support their customers and peers.

Drawing on a study of My Stealthy Freedom (MySF), an online movement that protests Iran’s veiling laws for women, this inaugural lecture identifies social media practices that

(1 – the good) generate generalized solidarity by leveraging solidarity as a site for doing protest,

(2 – the bad) promote issue-based solidarity that relies on us-versus-them logics to create social cohesion within the group and distinctions from other, and

(3 – the ugly) promote narcissism as users present idealized versions of themselves through profiles and filters.

The lecture concludes with recommendations for organizations to contribute to the creation and maintenance of generalized solidarity, which is key to mobilizing collective action on such challenges as global warming and the refugee crisis.

More information

Inaugural lecture: Prof U. (Ulrike) Schultze

  • Titel: Social Media and Solidarity; The good, the bad and the ugly
  • Chair: Business Information Systems
  • Faculty: Economics and Business

Livestream on 17 March 2023, see:

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