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University of Groningen wants to predict unrest

17 January 2014

This week, Groningen is in the spotlight. There are new actions and demonstations every day, but is it going to get quieter from now on or escalate? These kinds of tipping points in complex social developments are hard to predict, which is why the University of Groningen is researching the ‘wisdom of crowds’. Do you know what is going to happen? Join in!

‘It’s not hard to predict whether people are prepared to take to the streets’, says professor of social psychology Tom Postmes.  ‘We wrote a short book in 2013 designed to increase insight into and understanding of social unrest.’

In brief, there are three reasons to take action. The first is that you have to have a group of people with a ‘we’ feeling. In the jargon that’s ‘shared social identity’. The second is that the members of the group must experience injustice or moral outrage – ‘they’ are wrong. The third is that they need to feel that the protest will have an effect.

All three of these conditions are satisfied in Groningen: Groningers are united, outraged and they are being listened to. But we still understand far too little about the changes from moment to moment – these three conditions do not explain why unrest can suddenly escalate or evaporate. So join in our research!

Last modified:15 September 2017 3.34 p.m.
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