Cultural Conflict 2.0 Shedding new light on the conditions of co-existence in urban spaces.

The Project


Cultural Conflict 2.0 investigates in what ways and to what extent social media is reshaping social relations in culturally diverse areas of large and small cities in Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. We especially look at how cultural conflict is created, circulated, handled and dealt with both on social media platforms and at their intersection with life in the physical city.

So far, our evidence suggests that mediatisation proceeds at a different speeds, depending on the size of the city and the strength of pre-digital media, such as local newspapers. In Kristiansand, a small town in the south of Norway, social media are very widely used, but local newspapers and forms of local leadership not dependent on social media remain important. In contrast, both have largely been replaced by forms of communication and leadership dependent on social media in Amsterdam.

We have examined how groups of individuals who experience high levels of cultural conflict on social media platforms respond, interviewing ethnic Danish converts to Islam who are active on social media platforms. We found that these individuals tend to deal with critical and abusive comment by not engaging directly, but rather by posting material which sheds light on their decision to convert, and on what their life as a Muslim means to them.

We have also been studying how social media reshapes users’ relationship with place, building on the initial observation that many young people largely navigate the urban environment through their smartphones. By examining the spatial distribution and content of posts we have found that users tend to form lifestyle clusters, and that users in clusters with greater access to prestigious or gentrifying locations in the city tend to highlight location more often, thus enhancing both their prestige and that of the location. This is one way in which the use of a widely accessible technology may unintentionally reinforce existing social divisions.

We have also studied the formation of clusters of users in cities which form part of much larger transnational networks, such as those formed by women interested in hijab fashion. While continental Europe’s largest cluster of such users in found in Rotterdam, this cluster and those in other Western cities are much smaller than the major hubs in South East Asia. This case study shows how our method can produce novel findings and suggest new lines of enquiry; for example, some of the cities with most users had not been identified by previous studies, while at a local level spatial pattern posts suggests that women in these networks do not live parallel lives in separate spaces to the ethnic majority, but rather intersecting lives with some shared spaces but distinct centres, such as restaurants and beauty parlours. In these kind of ways the project is shedding new light on the conditions of co-existence in multi-ethnic urban spaces.

Our Team


David Herbert

David Herbert

Project Leader

Irene Trysnes

Irene Trysnes

Associated Researcher

Janna Egholm Hansen

Janna Egholm Hansen

Associated Researcher

John D. Boy

John D. Boy

Postdoctoral Researcher

Justus Uitermark

Justus Uitermark

Co-Principal Investigator

Stefan Fisher-Høyrem

Stefan Fisher-Høyrem

Postdoctoral Researcher

Key Publications


Past and Upcoming Events


Date Event Location
5–6 Jul 2018 NSRN Conference 2018 London
1 Jun 2018 Middlesex Instagram Conference London
30 Nov–2 Dec 2017 Social Media & Social Order Oslo
4–7 Jul 2017 37th International Society for the Sociology of Religion Conference Lausanne
19 May 2017 Symposium on Social Order, Collective Rituals & Cultural Conflict Kristiansand, Norway
16 Dec 2016 Symposium on Digital Networks, Emotions & Public Life Amsterdam
20–23 Aug 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association Seattle
28–30 Jul 2016 Social Media & Society London
10–14 Jul 2016 3rd International Sociological Association Forum Vienna
1–3 Jul 2016 Networks in the Global World St. Petersburg
1–2 Oct 2015 New Directions in Mediatization Research Copenhagen
11 Sep 2015 Workshop on Religion and the Global City Kent, UK
10 Sep 2015 Alexander von Humboldt Lecture Nijmegen
27–29 Aug 2015 RC21 International Conference Urbino, Italy
7–9 Jul 2015 Socrel 2015 Hertfordshire, UK
2–5 Jul 2015 33rd International Society for the Sociology of Religion Conference Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
2–4 Jul 2014 Socrel 2014 Sussex, UK