Petter Törnberg

Petter Törnberg
University of Amsterdam | UVA · Department of Political Science and Sociology

Ph.D Complex Systems

About

48
Publications
22,202
Reads
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821
Citations
Citations since 2016
42 Research Items
777 Citations
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Introduction
Critical inquiry through, with, and on digital data. Polarization and radicalization on digital media. Political life on platforms. Data politics. Platformization.
Additional affiliations
January 2021 - present
University of Amsterdam
Position
  • PostDoc Position
April 2019 - January 2021
Chalmers University of Technology
Position
  • PostDoc Position
April 2017 - April 2019
University of Amsterdam
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (48)
Article
Full-text available
Politics has in recent decades entered an era of intense polarization. Explanations have implicated digital media, with the so-called echo chamber remaining a dominant causal hypothesis despite growing challenge by empirical evidence. This paper suggests that this mounting evidence provides not only reason to reject the echo chamber hypothesis but...
Article
Full-text available
Recent decades have seen a blurring of the line between extremist movements and mainstream politics, driven by rising sectarian polarization. This development has been linked to digital media, with suggestions that so-called echo chambers may drive political radicalization. To understand the social processes taking place inside such digital spaces,...
Article
Full-text available
Digital platforms such as Airbnb have become a major economic and political force in recent years, presenting themselves as a "sharing economy"-a new, more just way of organizing social and economic activity-while functioning as owners and managers of proprietary markets. These platforms have in recent years been subject to variegated but growing r...
Article
Full-text available
This paper develops the notion of “platform placemaking”, describing how platforms mobilize user data to remake urban spatial imaginaries in their interests. Using Airbnb as a case, the paper studies the digital urban culture of “Airbnbification” – examining how Airbnb’s reviews and descriptions become part of reshaping urban place, while contribut...
Article
Full-text available
We are today increasingly experiencing the city through interfaces of platforms like Google Maps, Instagram, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, and Yelp. As our very sense of the city is shaped by these technological interfaces, the media are acquiring a constitutive role in reshaping contemporary urbanity. To conceptualize how media represent urban change, this...
Book
As our social life is mediated by digital interfaces such as Twitter, TikTok, and Google Maps, these services are at the same time producing large quantities of social data that are transforming the social sciences. Such “Big Data” are giving researchers access to new ways of studying society, bringing the emergence of a rapidly growing discipline:...
Article
Full-text available
Media scholarship has long argued that public discourse is a function of the architecture of the media by which it is carried. Media architecture is, as political economists have argued, in turn shaped by the capitalist regime of accumulation within which the media operate. This paper draws together these two strands of literature to ask: as the ac...
Article
Full-text available
Rising political polarization in recent decades has hampered and gridlocked policymaking, as well as weakened trust in democratic institutions. These developments have been linked to the idea that new media technology fosters extreme views and political conflict by facilitating self-segregation into "echo chambers" where opinions are isolated and r...
Article
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The proliferation of digital data has been the impetus for the emergence of a new discipline for the study of social life: 'computational social science'. Much research in this field is founded on the premise that society is a complex system with emergent structures that can be modeled or reconstructed through digital data. This paper suggests that...
Article
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We investigate how users on a prominent forum for white supremacists interpreted and framed two seminal events for the far-right in the U.S., the elections of Obama in 2008 and Trump in 2016. These cases precipitated dramatic shifts in the far-right alliance and conflict structure. We combine computational methods and qualitative analysis on a corp...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the prevalence of disagreement between users on social media platforms, studies of online debates typically only look at positive online interactions, represented as networks with positive ties. In this paper, we hypothesize that the systematic neglect of conflict that these network analyses induce leads to misleading results on polarized d...
Article
Full-text available
How do new scientific ideas diffuse? Computational studies reveal how network structures facilitate or obstruct diffusion; qualitative studies demonstrate that diffusion entails the continuous translation and transformation of ideas. This article bridges these computational and qualitative approaches to study diffusion as a complex process of conti...
Preprint
Full-text available
Despite the prevalence of disagreement between users on social media platforms, studies of online debates typically only look at positive online interactions, represented as networks with positive ties. In this paper, we hypothesize that the systematic neglect of conflict that these network analyses induce leads to misleading results on polarized d...
Article
Full-text available
Social scientists have long studied international differences in political culture and communication. An influential strand of theory within political science argues that different types of political systems generate different parliamentary cultures: Systems with proportional representation generate cross-party cohesion, whereas majoritarian system...
Article
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This article introduces the Twitter Parliamentarian Database (TPD), a multi-source and manually validated database of parliamentarians on Twitter. The TPD includes parliamentarians from all European Free Trade Association countries where over 45% of parliamentarians are on Twitter as well as a selection of English-speaking countries. The database i...
Article
Full-text available
Digital platforms are reshaping cities in the twenty-first century, providing not only new ways of seeing and navigating the world, but also new ways of organizing the economy, our cities and social lives. They bring great promises, claiming to facilitate a new "sharing" economy, outside of the exploitation of the market and the inefficiencies of t...
Article
Full-text available
Airbnb has recently become a growing topic of both concern and interest for urban researchers, policymakers, and activists. Previous research has emphasized Airbnb’s economic impact and its role as a driver of residential gentrification, but Airbnb also fosters place entrepreneurs, geared to extract value from a global symbolic economy by marketing...
Article
Full-text available
Despite remarkable empirical and methodological advances, our theoretical understanding of the evolutionary processes that made us human remains fragmented and contentious. Here, we make the radical proposition that the cultural communi- ties within which Homo emerged may be understood as a novel exotic form of organism. The argument begins from a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Artificial societies used to guide and evaluate policies should be built by following "best practices". However, this goal may be challenged by the complexity of artificial societies and the interdependence of their sub-systems (e.g., built environment, social norms). We created a list of seven practices based on simulation methods, specific aspect...
Article
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Contemporary economic theory has entered into an era of unprecedented pluralism. Convincing arguments have been presented for the integration of this pluralism, the possibilities for which however rest on questions of ontology. This paper looks at two hubs of pluralist research, complexity economics and heterodox economics, to evaluate the possibil...
Preprint
Full-text available
This essay places contemporary platform capitalism in a larger historical trajectory, emphasizing the transformations of control and power with the progression of modernity. It argues that liquidity of modernity means that control becomes increasingly organized in lower ontological stratas: rather than top-down command-and-control, control paradoxi...
Article
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The viral spread of digital misinformation has become so severe that the World Economic Forum considers it among the main threats to human society. This spread have been suggested to be related to the similarly problematized phenomenon of “echo chambers”, but the causal nature of this relationship has proven difficult to disentangle due to the conn...
Article
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This paper reviews the contemporary discussion on the epistemological and ontological effects of Big Data within social science, observing an increased focus on relationality and complexity, and a tendency to naturalize social phenomena. The epistemic limits of this emerging computational paradigm are outlined through a comparison with the discussi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Working towards a topology for politician retweet networks in 23 different countries using network measures.
Preprint
This is a study on the diffusion of novel scientific ideas. We examine how scholarly communities mediate diffusion in the academic landscape. As a case study, we analyze the diffusion of a specific scientific idea, namely the ’Strength of Weak Ties’ hypothesis, introduced by Granovetter in his 1973 paper. Using Web of Science data, we construct a n...
Article
Full-text available
Traditional scientific policy approaches and tools are increasingly seen as inadequate, or even counter-productive, for many purposes. In response to these shortcomings, a new wave of approaches has emerged based on the idea that societal systems are irreducibly complex. The new categories that are thereby introduced - like "complex" or "wicked" -...
Thesis
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This thesis engages with questions on the boundary between what has traditionally been understood as social and natural. The introductory essay contextualizes the specific contributions of the included papers, by noting and exploring a reinvigoration of "naturalism" (the notion of a continuity between the human realm and the rest of natural phenome...
Article
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Free social spaces have long been emphasized in the social movement literature. Under names such as safe spaces, social havens, and counterpublics, they have been characterized as protective shelters against prevailing hegemonic ideologies and as hubs for the diffusion of ideas and ideologies. However, the vast literature on these spaces has predom...
Article
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Human culture signifies the emergence of an entirely new domain of existence: an event in natural history that is paralleled only by the Cambrian Explosion in terms of creativity and scope. The question of how human culture-as opposed to its animal counterparts-came to become open-endedly creative and cumulative is therefore one of wide and general...
Article
Full-text available
Human culture signifies the emergence of an entirely new domain of existence: an event in natural history that is paralleled only by the Cambrian Explosion in terms of creativity and scope. The question of how human culture—as opposed to its animal counterparts—came to become open-endedly creative and cumulative is therefore one of wide and general...
Article
Full-text available
This article combines topic modeling and critical discourse analysis to examine patterns of representation around the words Muslim and Islam in a 105 million word corpus of a large Swedish Internet forum from 2000 through to 2013. Despite the increased importance of social media in the (re)production of discursive power in society, this is the firs...
Article
Full-text available
In this article we present an analysis of the discursive connections between Islamophobia and anti-feminism on a large Internet forum. We argue that the incipient shift from traditional media toward user-driven social media brings with it new media dynamics, relocating the (re)production of societal discourses and power structures and thus bringing...
Thesis
Full-text available
Our society is increasingly beset by a range of interrelated crises -- with the financial crisis, the energy crisis, and the global warming crisis as leading examples -- forming a "meta-crisis" with its roots in processes deeply entrenched in society (Lane et al., 2011), and emanating from large-scale complex adaptive systems so strongly interlinke...
Article
Full-text available
We sympathize with the project of a synthetic approach for devising a "theory of intentional change" and agree that Darwinism should be central in such a theory. But Darwinism is not the only process of evolution that needs to be included. Evolutionary biology itself has taken such a turn recently, with the emergence of developmental evolutionary a...
Article
Full-text available
Evolutionary developmental theories in biology see the processes and organization of organisms as crucial for understanding the dynamic behavior of organic evolution. Darwinian forces are seen as necessary but not sufficient for explaining observed evolutionary patterns. We here propose that the same arguments apply with even greater force to cultu...

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
Examining the Twitter networks of politicians in 23 nations: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In addition, we collect tweets from all members of the European parliament.
Project
The project aims at a better understanding of the mechanisms and dynamics of information circulating in social media and digital news. To achieve this goal it will combine methods from game theory, complex networks, dynamical systems and text analysis. Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 732942. www.odycceus.eu