Spatial Indicators of Right-Wing Extremist Attitudes

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 10:48 AM
Room: 416
Oral Presentation
Katja SALOMO , Institute of Sociology, Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena, Germany
Prevention programs for right-wing extremism in East Germany have been steadily conducted for the last decade. Recently, however, there have been increased efforts to tie local prevention programs closer to the up-to-date research in this field. Nevertheless, the exchange between social scientists and the organizers of prevention measures revealed a gap: Whereas the former rely on survey data to identify who, i.e. which socio-demographic groups show high risks for developing far-right attitudes and why, prevention programs need to know where – in which towns, rural communities or areas – these high risk groups are likely to be found. It therefore seems necessary to ascertain spatial indicators for right-wing extremist attitudes.

The analysis is based on cross-sectional survey data from the eastern German state Thuringia aggregated to the level of rural districts and up to three measurement points between 2001 and 2013, supplemented by corresponding spatial characteristics of these districts, describing them in respect to their economic, social, cultural and political status. To assure valid estimations for the effect sizes of spatial characteristics, it is necessary to choose a statistical approach that allows a) to test spatial characteristics against known predictors for right-wing extremist attitudes on individual level, b) to account for different roles various spatial characteristics are supposed to play (predictors, moderators) in regard to predictors on individual level and c) to ascertain to what extant changes in attitudes between measurement points can be ascribed to (changes in) the status of the rural districts.

As can be demonstrated, “conventional” path models accompanied by latent-change models meet this demands. Their adequacy and limitations for analysing effects of spatial characteristics on (aggregated) individual characteristics are further discussed. As well as the validity of the implemented research design in relation to the expected practical use of the results for preventing right-wing extremist attitudes.