ISFiT21 : Creating Knowledge - Research Report

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Research Report

Head of Research Tale Søfting

Research Coordinators Ingrid Birgitte Løvoll Marita Walheim

Research Assistants

Oda Lægran Shabnam Sadeghi Sunniva Futterer-Wannebo Edda Vidarsdottir


Preface On behalf of the ISFiT21 Research Team – we are so happy that you have opened up this report and want to read what we have been working on! We want this report to be a source of knowledge that, paradoxically enough, helps students and others be critical of the knowledge that they are fed. Raising awareness about the biases that knowledge carries and the stratifications knowledge can create was the foundation of this report, and I feel that the end result really exemplifies consequences of problems related to knowledge. These questions are about how knowledge is to be discussed in universities, about the consequences of digital platforms and their own spread of knowledge, about the loss of knowledge for children living in the midst of a pressing humanitarian crisis, and about knowledge framed by powerful politicians. We would like to explain briefly how we have worked on the report for those interested. The Research Assistants have each been responsible for their own case, and I, the Head of Research, and the Research Coordinators have helped them during the process with ideas, editing, sources, etc. The Research Coordinators have also written about the thematic directions and I have written the introduction. We have worked as a team even though everyone has had their own main responsibilities. While working on this report, we have enhanced our understanding of the theme

“Creating Knowledge” through experience with how both working with and presenting knowledge contributes to the knowledge base we all share. Processing the cases together through workshops and discussions has made us more aware of how knowledge differs from person to person, and how we ourselves are creating knowledge through this report. We come from a variety of study fields and backgrounds, which has been helpful when working as a team as many different perspectives have been taken into account! I am so proud of the Research Coordinators and Assistants for what they have created – this would definitely not have been possible without their hard work, curiosity and willingness to learn! I think it’s safe to say that we have learned so much during this process, and we want to bring this knowledge out to all of you – so I deeply recommend reading this report! Thank you ISFiT21 for giving us the opportunity to create this report, and thank you for putting such an important topic on the agenda!



Table of Contents 3 6 10 16 32 48 62 84 94

Preface Introduction : What is “Creating Knowledge”? Thematic Directions Case 1 : Students’ Perception of Discussion Environments in Higher Education Case 2 : Towards a More Ethical Development of Digital Platforms Case 3 : Refugee Children’s Educational Integration Case 4 : Political Leaders in Poland and Hungary’s Framing of Knowledge References Appendix


Tale Søfting

Introduction The theme of ISFiT21 is entitled “Creating Knowledge”, which might leave many readers wondering what the theme is really about. This festival’s theme may not be immediately easy to capture, and many will have different interpretations of the theme. It is an interesting and important theme from many aspects, which I will try to explain throughout this introduction.

Creating Knowledge

Knowledge is a broad concept that is defined as “acquaintance of facts, truths or principles” (, n.d.). The term is widely used to mean something that is unquestionably true. Putting together the words “creating” and “knowledge” can therefore be seen as contradictory. How is it that knowledge can be created, and why is it therefore always defined as true? The reality of the matter is that everything to be read in your curriculum, in dictionaries, or in official documents is created and written by human beings. Everyone involved in the knowledge that circulates are individuals with opinions, personal goals, and perspectives defined by their own life experiences. One person’s conception of the truth might therefore differ widely from someone else’s based on for example their social class, their country of origin, or their family constellation (Tjora, 2020). This is why “Creating Knowledge” is ISFiT21’s theme. We want to create awareness around the bias inherent in knowledge and how 6

every person creates knowledge themselves – and to justify being critical of “known truths”. This does not at all mean that all or most knowledge is false. When it comes to mathematics, for example, it is hard to defend the ‘social construct’ of theorems such as 1+1=2. However, even in natural sciences, these aspects can play a role: for example, in the development of technology. It just means that what we are taught can be biased, in the sense that not all relevant information is included, or in the way that the subject is seen in an entirely different light on the other side of the world. The awareness of this phenomenon can contribute to a more open-minded world where we understand that our truth isn’t necessarily everyone’s truth. The theme is especially relevant in the context of ISFiT, as this festival gathers students from different countries. Students are in the center of knowledge, as everything they are doing in their everyday lives concerns obtaining knowledge and partly creating knowledge in terms of research. Universities and education in general are therefore essential when it comes to the theme, but the theme still covers many different topics. Media and technology are other important aspects as they play a large role in our lives, as students and otherwise. They will most likely continue to grow as important platforms of creating and spreading knowledge, especially as they


permit looking beyond national borders. As ISFiT comes from an international perspective, culture, activism, norms and values are also important. ‘Culture’ contains both the concept of the arts, as cultural arts such as music or poems are used to spread knowledge, and the idea of different cultures around the world, as knowledge is colored by culture. Activism plays an essential role, especially for students, who historically have been eager activists, as viewpoints are affected by what knowledge you have access to and how you perceive different truths according to your background (Jason, 2018). Norms and values are also interesting from an international perspective as culture and religion, which varies from country to country or even locally, will affect the knowledge you obtain, spread, and create. As you can see, knowledge is omnipresent in our lives, regardless of background. Discussions about what that means is important, and therefore, ISFiT21 provides a platform for this to take place.

Theoretical Perspective : Social Constructivism

In order to grasp the concept of “Creating Knowledge” better I have chosen to explain social constructivism as a central theory. There are of course many different ways to understand the theme, and this is only one example. This theory was chosen because it grasps the reasoning

behind why it is important to view knowledge as something that is created, and not necessarily unquestionably true. Social constructivism is a postmodernist theory that explains that the reality of each individual is influenced by their previous experiences, their present contacts, and their present situation (Tjora, 2020). This means that what is considered real will vary from person to person, and a person’s construction of reality can change over time or from situation to situation (Tjora, 2020). It is based on the Thomas theorem, which states: “What the human perceives as real, will become real in its consequences” (Tjora, 2020). This indicates that perception is key in understanding different realities. The opposite of social constructivism indicates that the truth exists independent of our categories and concepts (Fuller, p. 171). This includes philosophical rationalism that explains science as the search for truth (Fuller, p. 173.) A common criticism of social constructivism is that it opens up for endless versions of the truth, and creating knowledge, as defined as ‘facts’ or ‘truths’, becomes difficult (Fuller, p. 175). This is a classic example of postmodernist theory, as it makes way for theories to exist side by side, in contrast to the previous positivist tradition that searched for an ultimate truth (Britannica, n.d.).


Tale Søfting

Reader’s Guide Introduction As you probably already have understood, the introduction of this report aims to help you better understand what ISFiT21’s theme is trying to capture. I hope it gave you practical and theoretical insight into the theme, and that you were eager to continue reading in order to understand the more specific aspects of the theme. Thematic Overview ISFiT21 operates with six thematic directions to better map out the broad theme. These thematic directions are academia and educational systems, culture and activism, media, technology, knowledge as power and norms and values. These directions represent areas in society where knowledge is created and spread, and they all bring up different issues. In the section named “Thematic Overview”, the six thematic directions will be explained more in detail. We will clarify how they are connected to the overall theme and define central concepts. This overview will also explain which of the cases are relevant for which thematic direction, and why. This might give you some insight into which cases you will want to read more closely according to your field of interest. This section is also a great way to get to know the theme better in terms for how it is relevant in one’s daily life, as a student or otherwise. Cases The report will investigate four different cases which together cover more or less all of the six thematic directions. These cases aim to help one feel more aware and informed of knowledge as something that is constantly being created, recreated, and unequally spread by the end of


reading this report. At the beginning of each case you can read an abstract explaining the essential points of the case. The four cases are all built up the same way. They each focus on a specific research question connected to “Creating Knowledge”, which they try to answer using various research methods. They all start with an introduction explaining the relevance of the topic, as well as mapping out previous research and introducing what the rest of the case will include. The second part of each case is a chapter explaining relevant background information about the chosen topic, and in some cases some theory is included if it is relevant to the analysis. This chapter is especially interesting to read if you are interested in the topic overall, and not necessarily only the specific research question. The methodology chapter that follows is important to include in such cases in order for you as a reader to understand how the research is conducted, and to explain any methodological problems that might have affected the conclusions. It will help you understand to what extent the research is to be trusted, and to which situations it may be applicable. This is especially important considering that the theme is “Creating Knowledge”, and as an organization and individuals we also need to be aware of our role in creating knowledge. Finally you will find the chapter that includes the analysis and discussion, which brings forward interesting information regarding the research question. Potential answers to the research question are discussed based on empirical material, and it is viewed in relation to what is introduced in the chapter of background and theory. The case is then concluded with a short summary and reflections upon interesting studies to follow this one up with. All references are to be found at the end of the report.



Ingrid Birgitte Løvoll & Marita Walheim

Thematic Directions Knowledge as Power

Today we all live in a world where knowledge has a central place. Knowledge is thought to be the driving force of our times, and is the most important element of solving many of the world’s problems, such as poverty and the climate crisis. Many of the more developed and modern countries in the world are referred to as “knowledge societies”, where the production of knowledge is the defining characteristic of the economy (Treptov, n.d.). This puts knowledge at the center of attention, and thereby grants knowledge and the holders of knowledge a certain amount of power. The famous phrase “knowledge is power” is attributed to Sir Francis Bacon (García, 2001). The ability to obtain and store knowledge is what separates us from animals, but knowledge for the sake of knowledge does not necessarily create power. Knowledge becomes powerful when it is turned into action. This raises important questions about the relationship between knowledge and power. The one we will be focusing on in this report is how knowledge can be used and misused to obtain or keep power. Knowledge can be defined as understanding or being aware of something through experience (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, n.d.). It relates to having information or being learned. Power, on the other hand, is typically described as the 10

ability A has to make B do something B otherwise would not do (Dahl, 1957, p. 202-203). Power involves some sort of coercion, even though this coercion can be so subtle that we cannot notice it. By putting these two concepts together, we see that knowledge about the world can create conditions where the ones with knowledge have potential to coerce the ones without power, and this coercive power is not always used for good. As long as our societies are built around knowledge, knowledge can be both an asset and a threat. Having some knowledge about the world is necessary to survive in the competitive conditions we see in many countries today. Knowledge can raise the quality of life, and even save lives in many cases, through empowering and enabling individuals. But knowledge can also be misused by people in power, to suppress individuals, groups, or even entire populations. By using knowledge as a weapon, a means of propaganda, or even just by keeping knowledge from people, power holders can keep their position in society. Knowledge as power as a thematic direction covers every aspect of “Creating Knowledge”. In this report you will encounter the power perspective more or less directly in every case presented. Knowledge and power are addressed through the enabling perspective in the cases about students (case 1), social media activism (case 2),

Thematic Directions

and refugee children (case 3). These cases show how having knowledge can encourage people to make better decisions and improve both their own and other people’s lives. In the case concerning Poland and Hungary (case 4), we see an example of how knowledge can be used as a weapon by people in power. We encourage you to keep these perspectives in mind throughout the report.


The modern world is immersed in technology. Think about a normal day in your own life. How many times do you use technology or even encounter technological solutions? No matter where you live in the world, chances are that technology is a huge part of your life, no matter how simple or advanced the technological solutions are. The word technology originally derives from the two greek words “techne” and “logia”, and refers to a systematic way of exercising knowledge about the world, often to improve human conditions (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, n.d.). The word as we know it was first used in 1829, to describe the practical application of knowledge within a particular area. In the modern world, technology has a natural and important role in day to day life. Throughout the ages, human beings have always tried to improve their conditions to make life easier, resulting in increasingly fast technological developments. With the outbreak of the 2020 Corona crisis, the world has truly come to see how important technology can be. The development of vaccines against the coronavirus, using theoretical knowledge applied for a practical purpose, serves as an excellent example as to how technology can both save and change lives. This example also highlights how knowledge about technology and the use of technology creates both opportunities and disadvantages. As everything else in life, technology is not neutral. This research report focuses on digital technology and how this relates to the creation of knowledge. Digital technology can be defined as “the

branch of scientific or engineering knowledge that deals with the creation and practice use of digital or computerized devices, methods or systems” (, n.d.). With a basis in this definition, it becomes clear that knowledge is both important in the creation of technological systems and when using these systems. This raises important questions as to who has the power to create digital technology, what is the technology used for, who has access to it, and maybe most importantly for ordinary people: How do these technologies affect me? ISFiT21 addresses many of these questions, but in this report we focus on a particular issue, namely how social media technologies downgrade individuals and make us slaves to technology. The case “Towards a More Ethical Development of Digital Platforms” (case 3) shines the spotlight on how social media platforms are being designed, not for the users’ benefit, but for the profit of tech companies. This case addresses how technologists can work to create more humane technologies, thereby showing how technology now is being used to exploit and suppress individuals. By focusing on these issues, this case contributes to “Creating Knowledge” in two separate ways: Firstly, it brings information about technology to people, thereby allowing them to make informed decisions about their digital lives. Secondly, it shows how technologists can change technology, and illuminates the power that technologists have: both today and in the future.

This raises important questions as to who has the power to create digital technology, what is the technology used for, who has access to it, and maybe most importantly for ordinary people: How do these technologies affect me?


Ingrid Birgitte Løvoll & Marita Walheim


Have you ever wondered how you know the things you know about current affairs in the world today? Living in a western country with a free and independent press, questioning the information put forward by the media has just recently become an important part of daily life. Before the rise of social media, print press and television were seen as credible news sources, worthy of being trusted. With the rise of social media, on the other hand, the media’s role in the creating and spreading of knowledge has been increasingly questioned, and is now an important theme both in scholarly debates and among the public. In Norway, the educational authorities have even introduced the new term “digital citizenship”, where students are meant to learn about and reflect upon how the information they find online affects them, and how trustworthy this information is. Having knowledge about how knowledge is created and distributed is increasingly important due to the more complex media systems we see in the world today. With the rise of social media, we are no longer just consumers of information, but also creators of information. Everyone can post online and there are virtually no rules as to how truthful the things we post need to be. Much is left up to the consumer. So do you know when to tell facts from fiction? Which information sources do you trust? What biases are put forward in the information posted? All these questions touch upon the main question: How does media contribute to creating knowledge? In many countries, a free and independent press is important for spreading information. Other countries have more restrictions on their media outlets both when it comes to what information is allowed and how information is framed. Media outlets have immense power in deciding how they describe the world, and in what terms. Have you noticed that some stories are “always” framed negatively? There is a power in language, and the media knows how to use it. With the rise of social media, this power has fallen into the hands of


everybody, with no editors required. We all have the power of framing and providing knowledge about the world – for better and for worse. In this research report you will find a case study about how political leaders of Poland and Hungary frame information in order to influence their populations’ views about the LGBT+ movements (case 4). Through examining official statements from media outlets, this case brings forward important nuances as to how media can be used to control information and knowledge. You will also find a case about social media and how technologists are spreading information through these digital channels to empower people (case 2). These are just two examples of how media and social media are important for creating knowledge, and provide an important basis for further understanding and reflection about this interesting theme.

Culture and Activism

Culture and activism are both important forms of expression in a modern society, as both are often affected by current or previous politics and are used to create and spread a message. All creative culture is heavily influenced by its creators’ pre-existing knowledge. In addition to creative culture, we can also view historical culture as a way of creating and spreading knowledge of older generations. Creative culture, such as music, writing and art, has throughout history been linked to having political motives or been used as a form of activism. Activism itself is more often than not based in the idea of supporting or opposing a side of a controversial issue, such as racial issues or problems with ruling government systems. Activism thus works as a means of creating and spreading knowledge that reaches the people. A lot of modern-day activism is digital and can be found and directly interacted with on different social media platforms, such as the Amnesty and Black Lives Matter-profiles on Instagram, or the #MeToo-movement on Twitter and various other platforms.

Thematic Directions

All creative culture is heavily influenced by its creators’ preexisting knowledge. It is interesting to see how culture and activism are affected by both pre-existing and consecutively acquired knowledge, and how the knowledge we take in is altered by the culture and/or activism we interact with. An example of this is how we may interpret the history of, for example, India based on what information we already know, what sources we use, and what kind of pre-existing prejudice we have. In terms of how the thematic direction of culture and activism works within the overarching theme of “Creating Knowledge”, its main focus is on how culture and activism can be used as a force of change within society. We are interested in how culture and activism create and spread knowledge. This theme is further discussed in Case 1, “Student`s Views on the Status of Academic Freedom”, where students from all over the world have answered a survey in regards to their own academic freedom and freedom of speech within academia, which is highly relevant to Culture and Activism. Case 2, “Towards a More Ethical Development of Digital Platforms” also relates to Culture and Activism through the activism of technologists in spreading awareness and trying to create a more ethical environment on digital platforms. Case 4, “Political Leaders in Poland and Hungary`s Framing of Knowledge” addresses differences in culture and progressivity in Poland and Hungary in contrast to other developed countries, as well as acknowledging the struggles of sexual minorities in these countries.

Norms and Values

affect how we think and act, allowing us to make decisions we deem ‘good’ or ‘bad’. While norms are more often than not unwritten, values such as religious values may be written in holy texts, such as the Ten Commandments that can be found in both the Old Testament and the Tanakh (Berlin & Brettler, 2004; New Living Translation, 1996/2015). Values such as these impact how religious followers live their lives and make their decisions, and are often so ingrained into the culture and norms of their respective societies that even non-religious people may subconsciously have internalized the same values. Norms, being mainly unwritten rules of society, naturally impact our daily lives. Migrants from countries where it is viewed as rude to shake hands, for example, may find it odd and face challenges when migrating to countries where it is viewed as rude to not shake hands. Norms differ from country to country, from society to society. Both norms and values are always changing to fit a world society that is constantly altering itself. By connecting norms and values to “Creating Knowledge”, we wish to spark conversation and awareness about the correlation between our norms and values and the knowledge we create, spread, and believe. An example of norms and values impacting knowledge can be seen especially in Case 4, “Political Leaders in Poland and Hungary’s Framing of Knowledge’’, as conservative, family-oriented values direct affect the rhetoric used by Hungarian and Polish politicians when referencing or addressing LGBTQ+ communities, which in turn conditions the knowledge spread about the LGBTQ+ community in these countries to be mainly negative.

Merriam-Webster (n.d.) defines norms as “a set standard of development or achievement usually derived from the average or median achievement of a large group”, while value (as a verb) is defined as “to consider or rate highly”. Our norms and values are the driving forces behind nearly all decisions we make throughout our lives. They


Ingrid Birgitte Løvoll & Marita Walheim

Academia and Educational Systems

Universities, colleges and other institutions of higher education have always been important places for developing and bettering democracy, often serving as open discussion forums where different opinions meet. In addition to this, we see the importance of higher education when it comes to educating health workers, scientists and so on - professions that have played vital roles in, for example, developing vaccines for COVID-19. Using the COVID-19 vaccines as an example, for the past few months, we have observed how important it is that the information released to the public is tested, corrected, and discussed properly upon release, as limited knowledge about certain topics may cause unease and distrust. As students, we have an especially large responsibility in maintaining these discussions, and are also responsible for being critical towards information and knowledge presented to us - who decides what, when, and how we receive certain information? How can students create knowledge that is helpful and important, and how can we contribute to making knowledge accessible to the public? These are some questions that tie academia and educational systems to “Creating Knowledge”. This theme is explored in Case 1, “Student’s View on the Status of Academic Freedom”, which raises important questions regarding the creation of safe spaces and the importance of freedom of speech within academic societies, and Case 3, “Refugee Children’s Educational Integration”, where the accessibility and availability of knowledge when taking language barriers, trauma, and foreign cultures into consideration is explored.


Thematic Directions

How can students create knowledge that is helpful and important, and how can we contribute to making knowledge accessible to the public?


Shabnam Sadeghi

Students’ Perceptions of Discussion Environments in Higher Education What are students’ views on discussion premises in higher education and their influence on universities’ societal role?


Case 1


The study takes into question what the role of universities as political and societal hotspots are, as well as what students think conditions for discussion regarding difficult topics should be, if any. With this, the study will try to provide answers to the following problem: What are students’ views on discussion premises in higher education and their influence on universities’ societal role? This has been done by looking into the issues of safe spaces, development of critical thinking, consequences of political correctness, and regulations of academic freedom. An online survey consisting of questions inquiring as to students’ views on openness in academia, discussion environments, and safe spaces was sent out to students all over the world. I found that especially students residing in countries with lower ranks of democracy and liberalism put high value on the privilege of freedom of speech and keeping discussion environments completely free in order to solve difficult issues. Additionally, most of the students were in favor of the use of safe spaces, reasoned with safe spaces’ effect of activating withheld students who are afraid of potentially experiencing upsetting situations in these discussions. At the same time, a vast majority of the students thought that being exposed to controversial opinions and attitudes stimulate critical thinking, and that they themselves think the curriculums presented at their universities are helping them grow intellectually. 17

Shabnam Sadeghi


Over the last century, the number of students enrolled at universities has increased dramatically, going from 500 000 in the year 1900 to about 100 million in 2000 (Huber, 2016, p. 90). From a historical perspective, students have been the driving force for maintaining democracy, and have initiated political movements regarding, for example, civil rights, feminism, antiracism, and environmental protection (Hitland, Nielsen & Refstie, 2019, p. 237). In a time of increasing social inequality, fatal climate changes, and indications of growing political polarization, it is vital to discuss how students today are participating in discussions regarding controversial topics. This includes acknowledging and examining the effects of the growing trends of safe spaces and trigger warnings. This contributes to understanding how these issues will develop further, and if the current situation really is beneficial to students in developing critical thinking, maintaining student activism, and attempting to solve societal issues. This topic is especially relevant in these times because recently there have been several examples of lecturers experiencing vocational consequences for their statements in multiple countries. I will illustrate two examples to show the relevance of the topic and paint a picture of the situation. The first is a UCLA professor who was suspended for his email response to a student who requested that he’d postpone the final exam for African-American students due to George Floyd’s death earlier that year (CBS Los Angeles, 2020). A quite challenging email-response was sent, containing “Are there any students that may be of mixed parentage, such as half black-half Asian? What do you suggest I do with respect to them?” and “I am thinking that a white student from there might be possibly even more devastated by this, especially because some might think that they’re racist even if they are not.” (CBS Los Angeles, 2020). The professor was accused of writing a “woefully racist response” (CBS Los Angeles, 2020). Another similar incident was the so-called “Germans joke”, in which a psychology professor in Bergen, Norway made a joke about German


tourists, referencing the German invasion during World War II and them “returning” to Norway (Lie, 2020). The university management submitted an apology to the student on behalf of the professor without his consent, which provoked him and many other supporters (Lie, 2020). In this study, students’ relationship with controversial topics and the premises for difficult discussions in universities will be examined, as well as students’ perspectives on the use of safe spaces and limitations regarding academic freedom. The research question is as follows: What are students’ views on discussion premises in higher education and their influence on universities’ societal role? As mentioned earlier, universities are the hotspot when it comes to activism related to social and political issues, and therefore it is necessary to shed light on different viewpoints concerning the topics in question in order to reflect on the development of universities as a cultural and societal institution. On the basis of a survey I will explore a variety of student perspectives on the relevant topics and try to provide an overview of the current attitudes and opinions which are shaping higher education. First there will be a background chapter which clarifies terms of relevance, as well as the historical context. Then the methodology used to explore the research question will be presented and discussed. Here, it is necessary to take factors such as the participants’ residing countries’ level of democracy and liberalism as well as gender into account. In the analysis and discussion, the data will be presented, taking into account factors such as the participants’ residing countries’ level of democracy and liberalism as well as gender. It will then be used to discuss how beneficial it is to increase cautiousness in discussions involving vulnerable participants, and including safe spaces in higher education when the purpose is to encourage critical and independent thinking.

Case 1

Background and Theory

In the following chapter, the purpose of higher education will be presented, as well as clarifications of the terms critical thinking, academic freedom, safe spaces, political correctness, and trigger warnings. Defining the terms will narrow down the possible uncertainties due to different definitions, and hopefully give an insight into the research question’s relevance in today’s society. Societal Role of Higher Education : Critical Thinking, Academic Freedom and Student Activism Scholar Guy Neave raises the question of what place academia has in the nation, and what purpose the knowledge developed and distributed by universities has in society’s development (Kwiek, 2006, p.2). According to Kwiek (2006, p. 5), academic freedom “is under severe attack” due to the government and corporations intervening in university politics, but also because of the growing popularity of safe spaces, which according to many is a threat to free speech and academic freedom (Callan, 2016, p. 64). According to Campbell & Manning (2018, p. 79), risk-taking among young people continues to decline as safety, and with that safe spaces, becomes increasingly important. Despite this trend, some argue that shielding vulnerable people from triggering material actually is the opposite of how traumatized patients are returned to normality by their therapists (Campbell & Manning, 2018, p. 11 and p. 85). The german idealist Johann Gottlieb Fichte put it as follows: «the university exists not to teach information but to inculcate the exercise of critical judgement» (Readings, 1996, p. 6). Ever since the inception of universities, they have encouraged debate and critical thinking (Craciun & Mihut, 2017, p. 15). Critical thinking as a term is often used to describe the skills of argumentation, and reasonable, reflective thinking (Pithers & Soden, 2000, p. 239). It is a contrast to creative thinking, meaning critical thinking leans more towards rational and analytical thinking (Pithers & Soden, 2000, p. 239). This involves having an open mind

towards information and judging the validity and reliability of statements, as well as showing the ability to form individual opinions and ideas while remaining flexible to re-evaluate and change them if reason implies to do so (Pithers & Soden, 2000, p. 239). This suggests that exposure to opinions and views that challenge fixed ones are the optimal way of intellectual growth. At the same time, students participating in safe spaces reported in a study that they feel more challenged in terms of awareness and expanding their viewpoints, and they stated that safe spaces have helped them develop their communication skills (Holly & Steiner, 2005, p. 58). Surprisingly, Holley and Steiner (2005, p. 59) found minor differences among gender, ethnicity, and study programmes regarding opinions of the necessity of creating safe spaces. This suggests that not even white men, the group historically recognized to be the most privileged, feel completely safe while participating in discussions involving controversial topics. Further on, the study showed that a majority of students felt they learned more in a class environment that makes use of safe spaces (Holly & Steiner, 2005, p. 61). With that, one can ask oneself to what degree the students should have a say in the premises of discussion environments, and if the acceptance of safe spaces is a mere attempt to shield ourselves from provocative, but potentially necessary, discussion topics. Even more importantly; are students empowered by determining the development of what we consider to be knowledge? To what extent should we take into consideration the risk of students being offended by what they’re exposed to in lectures? Academic freedom is a widely discussed term and has often been confused with freedom of expression, but they are designed to maintain distinct goals (Future Learn, 2018). Academic freedom is the right to pursue studies and research without interference from institutions or the public (Future Learn, 2018). It is exercised by those who engage in academia and research, but is slightly more indefinite than freedom of expression (Future Learn, 2018). The confusion emerges 19

Shabnam Sadeghi

when an academic expresses a controversial opinion, and one has to determine whether it is the academic freedom or freedom of expression that protects their opinion (Future Learn, 2018). The reasons for preserving academic freedom are many. Not only is it a fundamental right for an individual academic to have their moral and intellectual integrity protected when pursuing their research and teaching, but “progress toward deeper understanding and new discoveries, in any field, requires a willingness to adopt new perspectives and new approaches” (Karran, 2009, p. 7). Therefore, in order to develop objective and unbiased knowledge, preservation of academic freedom is crucial (Karran, 2009, p. 7-8). In many previous conflicts regarding freedom of speech, academics at universities were the ones targeted, especially due to the knowledge in question being the opposite of what dictatorial governments had announced as absolute facts (Karran, 2009, p. 3). For example, in 2000 an Egyptian professor was unlawfully imprisoned for his involvement in making a documentary film about election inconsistencies (Karran, 2009, p. 3). Student activists have not only made a tremendous impact on societal issues, but also the structure of higher education (Hitland, Nielsen & Refstie, 2019, p. 242). Even so, while student uprisings in the 1970’s were aimed towards the faculties and the university as an institution, students today seem to be less concerned with university politics (Hitland, Nielsen & Refstie, 2019, p. 238). They no longer question the organization of universities and study programmes or the curriculum they’re exposed to to the same degree as a few decades ago (Hitland, Nielsen & Refstie, 2019, p. 242). In parallel with this change of students’ focus on activism, the popularity of safe spaces has expanded dramatically. Safe spaces are traced back to the 1960’s feminist movement, and were created with the purpose of making protected communities to discuss women’s issues (Campbell & Manning, 2018, p. 79). The idea then extended to the LGBT+ community to make space for sexual minorities without fear of discrimination, and has since been applied to communities of intersectionality 20

(Campbell & Manning, 2018, p. 79). Safe spaces are directly connected to the emerging concept of victimhood culture, which is characterized by a high degree of sensitivity in confrontations with negative attitudes toward people of marginalized groups (Campbell & Manning, 2018, p. 17).

In many previous conflicts regarding freedom of speech, academics at universities were the ones targeted, especially due to the knowledge in question being the opposite of what dictatorial governments had announced as absolute facts. Recent Developments in Academia : Political Correctness, Safe Spaces, and Trigger Warnings The term political correctness has its roots in the 1960’s counterculture movement in which criticisms of patriarchy, sexism, racism, and imperialism were put forward (Suri, 2009, p. 46). Political correctness involves increasing the focus on changing language and culture as a way of achieving social and political justice (Fairclough, 2003, p. 20). This involves avoiding certain behaviours and language (Fairclough, 2003, p. 20). Thus, in the context of academic freedom in higher education, the phenomenon involves a person having to alter or rephrase their statements and perspectives in order to avoid violating another person’s rights when discussing social or political issues (Morris, 2001). It is a way of preventing offense to people who belong to oppressed groups, meaning they are subject to discrimination and/or prejudice based on their ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation etc. (Hamilton, 2015). The most common definition of the term “safe space” involves the creation of an environment in

Case 1

which all participants, in our case students, feel comfortable taking part and expressing themselves freely (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p. 135). This means that the participants feel safe enough not to worry about the fear of ridicule or attacks, and in order to achieve this, the students need basic guidelines and rules (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p. 138). It might also be noted that safe spaces are usually put to use when the discussion topics are discussed in a more provocative than polite way (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p. 135). However, the definition of safe spaces can be quite vague, as it varies from one person to another what they find offensive. “Trigger warnings” is a term that invokes dispute. Some would define it as a warning that alerts students about distressing material that might trigger past traumas, while others see the concept as a means to shield students from what the “real world” is like, meaning they will never be challenged or stimulated to reconsider their opinions (Spencer & Kulbaga, 2018, p. 108; Godderis & Root, 2016, p. 132). In this study, I will lean towards the middle ground, which means that a trigger warning is an announcement alerting the students that the topic following has a chance of distressing someone, and that it hasn’t gone through the filter of political correctness. Examples could be racist, homophobic, or misogynistic statements, and it is to be noted that the term is defined to the extent that these potentially distressing topics are used for insight and education, and not as an opportunity for someone to express hateful opinions.


In this chapter, the method used to analyze the research question will be explained and justified. The survey’s content and distribution will also be described, and the survey in its entirety can be found in the appendix. The quality of the data will then be discussed.

Research Design Survey The purpose of this study is to examine students’ opinions on specific topics, therefore the most suitable method was found to be via a survey with open and closed questions (Mathiyazhagan & Nandan, 2010). A survey is a research method that consists of systematically collecting data from a population or sample through direct questioning, and more specifically in this study through an online questionnaire (Mathiyazhagan & Nandan, 2010, p. 34). There exists a broad range of arguments for why academic freedom is or is not under threat, and therefore I found it more interesting to explicitly ask the students what their opinions on the topics were. Students are the focal point of these discussions, so gaining insight into their views is an important part of understanding the status and development of the premises of discussion in academia. Distributing the survey to a large group of students provided an overview of their opinions on the relevant subjects. The survey was sent out to a group of international students located in a variety of countries around the world. As the research question focuses on inspecting students’ opinions, I found it more appropriate to examine the views of a larger group instead of a few individuals, which a survey facilitates effectively in comparison to, for example, in-depth interviews (Mathiyazhagan & Nandan, 2010, p. 42). Additionally, making distinctions between respondents of different study fields, and analyzing the variations of answers is valuable to the study when discussing the qualities of the data. From this, the target audience was determined to be students studying both social and natural sciences. The reason for handing it out to international students was to gain a variety of perspectives as they differ according to demographics and social and political basis. The hope was to reach as many different viewpoints as possible in order to present a nuanced picture of the issue.


Shabnam Sadeghi

Data Collection and Analysis The survey was digital and sent via email to the students participating or published in a closed group on a social media platform. It was divided into three parts: the participants’ general views on openness in academia, their opinions on how the discussion environment should be, and lastly, their views on the use of safe spaces. Most of the questions were closed-ended with the only alternatives being ‘yes’ or ‘no’, while some were open for more feedback in terms of briefly elaborating their viewpoints. One of the questions used a typical five-level Likert scale, which is a type of response scale where the responder can specify their level of agreement to the statements presented to them (Preedy & Watson, 2010, p. 4288). In order to analyze the data and take into account the social and political factors that could have affected the responses, the different countries have been classified according to Country Scores for the Liberal Democracy Index (LDI) (V-Dem Institute, 2020). This index measures liberal and electoral aspects of democracy based on a range of indicators such as to what degree the country in question can guarantee freedom of association, freedom of speech, protection of individual liberties, as well as the checks and balances between institutions (V-Dem Institute, 2020, p. 30-32). The nationalities represented by the respondents were then categorized according to the LDI into four categories: Liberal Democracy (LD), Electoral Democracy (ED), Electoral Autocracy (EA), and Closed Autocracy (CA). Countries belonging to LD score the highest on the Liberal Democracy Index, while countries of CA score the lowest. The countries are classified into their respective category when the answers are discussed, and the list of countries can be found in the appendix. When processing material from the survey, I found it appropriate to first take a quantitative approach by using statistics, in order to make generalizations based on the opinions of the majority of the respondents. In order to categorize the different answers according to different factors such as the Liberal Democracy Index, field of 22

study, and gender, a deeper dive into the specific answers was made. Quality of Data To assess the quality of the conclusions drawn from this research, we rely on the terms validity, reliability, and generalizability. Validity refers to the logical connection between the questions asked, the method chosen, and the conclusions we reach (Tjora, 2017, p. 231). In simple terms, high validity means that we are measuring the right concepts to answer the questions we ask. Low validity can be a result of problems with research design. Reliability, on the other hand, refers to the more random errors that can occur during a research process (Ringdal, 2014, p. 355). Both validity and reliability affects the generalizability of the research presented. Generalizability refers to the relevance the presented results can have to a broader perspective (Tjora, 2017, p. 231). Do these results speak for other cases than the one investigated? In the following, these dimensions of quality will be addressed. Validity As mentioned, using a survey to research student’s views on academic freedom and safe spaces is an optimal choice because it allows us to get insight on opinions, but also look at correlations between social and personal characteristics and opinions (Mathiyazhagan & Nandan, 2010, p. 34). The survey being anonymous makes it difficult to consider the seriousness of each individual respondent, but this is necessary in order to protect the respondents’ privacy and anonymity. It was ensured that those contacted were connected to legitimate student networks, and therefore that the survey was restricted to current students. This increases the validity of the study, as well as the fact that previous research on the topic has been extensively covered. This shows that the research question is academically rooted. The methodological and theoretical choices have also been explained, which again increases the study’s validity. On the other hand, the study does have some weaknesses regarding validity. The survey was

Case 1

only answered by a certain number of students, and there could always have been a larger variety regarding where the students came from, their field of study and their gender. This will be discussed further when discussing the study’s generalizability. Further, approximately 65 percent of the respondents finished the entire survey, while the remaining only completed about half of the questions. This gives the ones who finished the survey more influence on the results, as their answers make up a larger percentage of the total sum of answers. Also, with the main data collector method being a survey with limited possibilities for elaboration, there is a chance that some of the answers have been misunderstood by my part, and that the assumptions I’ve had to make in order to present the answers and analyze them contribute to withholding their actual opinions. Another noteworthy point is the one involving linguistic problems. The survey was distributed among students residing in diverse countries all over the world with varying levels of English language skills. This, in combination with the lack of chance to elaborate, made it difficult to interpret some answers, which left them open to interpretation and presumptions. Reliability It is to be noted that I had very little knowledge on the subject matter beforehand, except for the awareness of growing trends of political correctness in the media, and the examples of lecturers and professors being suspended due to statements considered to be inappropriate. With that being said, the sum of the information I had resulted in a slightly biased mindset in favor of those opposed to the use of safe spaces and limiting discussion premises. In order to prevent this from affecting the progress of the study, it was therefore crucial to read enough on the subjects from different perspectives in advance to secure a nuanced overview of the issue. This was helpful in the way that it ruled out some of the assumptions I had beforehand, as well as including other relevant information and facts that were factbased. Nevertheless, it is possible that being in favor of a certain viewpoint beforehand can have resulted in leading questions, as well as presump-

tions and generalizations of the data material in favor of the viewpoint I had beforehand. When reflecting on the questions when processing the data material, some of them might appear leading, such as: “Do you think open and boundless discussions could contribute to normalizing hateful and dangerous opinions?”. When reflecting upon the formulation, it clearly makes the suggestion that the topics in question could lead to normalizing dangerous opinions. Another question in mind is: “Do you find the right of your fellow students and lecturers to express their opinions more important than you potentially feeling offended?”. What these questions have in common is that they suggest what the respondent could be thinking if they were to respond ‘yes’, and in turn encouraging them to think so. Implying an answer to the respondent can contribute to weakening the reliability of the survey. Further, it is to be noted that survey as a data collection method opens up for less mainstream opinions. This means that the respondent has more room to express opinions that normally aren’t expressed. The survey being both digital and anonymous makes it easier for the respondents to be honest, which has a positive effect on the reliability of the study.


Generalizability As the research question is the motivation for the study, the study’s potential for a generalized conclusion is determined by whether the respondents answered the questions accurately or not. We should recognize the main source of generalizability to be the number and range of respondents, as not only students’, but generally people’s views on topics regarding social issues vary immensely according to for example demographics and social status. Considering the survey reached a number of respondents lower than 50, it is unlikely that it provided enough data for us to make assumptions when trying to make this study generalizable for all audiences. In order to identify patterns, the number of respondents has to be large, and the respondents themselves have to be diverse enough for us to make the assumption that any group of respondents within the same category would submit similar answers. As mentioned earlier, the respondents were of a varied range of countries, which provides the study validity regarding diversity in countries. With that being said, approximately 82 percent of the respondents identified as female, which might affect the results, and therefore not necessarily apply to all students. Considering the fact that politically correct is a term mostly used by conservatives to criticize liberals, and the fact that young women tend to be more politically left-oriented, there is reason to believe that the dominance of female respondents might provide more politically correct perspectives (Shorrocks, 2018, p. 136; Sutliff, 2019).


Case 1

Analysis and Discussion

When analyzing the survey material, four issues stood out as main areas of interest to the students. The analysis will present the respondents’ opinions on these topics and discuss potential implications. Discussion Environments The first issue concerns the respondents’ views on open and boundless discussions, and if they are effective in attempting to understand the opposite perspective as a way of coming to an agreement. In regards to this the students’ general views on the use of safe spaces and trigger warnings will be discussed, and what they find more efficient when trying to solve a controversial issue. Extreme Opinions in Open Discussions “Do you think open and boundless discussions could contribute to normalizing hateful and dangerous opinions and attitudes?” was a question that engaged the respondents. A disagreeing female residing in a country categorized as ED according to the LDI scale argued that open discussions can widen the perspectives of those who have hateful opinions rather than the opposite. Another respondent from an ED country said that as long as there is a basis of mutual respect from the beginning, attitudes and opinions won’t go to extremes. A respondent who agreed with the statement question reasoned that having discussions with those of an opposite mindset leads to a more open mind. However, this respondent specifies that this also includes those who don’t have extreme opinions in the first place. They see open discussions as something that forces us to analyze rather than reject other opinions, which leads to a more normalized and relaxed relationship with provocative opinions. An EA-country resident submitted an answer in the same vein, saying that open discussions lead to listening and understanding others’ opinions. Another respondent from an EA-categorized country who also agreed stated that controversial and provocative opinions should be politely presented and based on facts. Further, a respondent from an LD-country said that boundless discussions

could lead to emphasizing dangerous opinions, and that the solution is to attain mutual respect between the participants in order to avoid this problem.

They see open discussions as something that forces us to analyze rather than reject other opinions, which leads to a more normalized and relaxed relationship with provocative opinions. One respondent, from an LD-country, insisted that we shouldn’t reserve all attention to hateful opinions, but at the same time not be scared of them. They argued that “(...) it is important that we reflect upon when and how we address these topics, and how much attention we give it.” I perceive this to mean that hateful and provocative attitudes only are normalized if we choose to give them a certain amount of attention. An ED-country resident continued saying that they are not in favor of hate speech, and believe these attitudes “should be approached in an educational and disapproving way.” These results show that a majority of the students thought that the best way to approach a controversial and difficult topic is through a discussion environment in which the participants show a certain amount of respect to each other. The students seemed to agree that whether one likes it or not, all opinions that are heard and recognized, are also automatically normalized and destigmatized. Awareness of this is probably the reason for the focus some of the respondents had on how hateful opinions should be addressed and handled by the listeners. From the results there is reason to believe that residents from countries with a low score on the LDI scale seem to lean more towards removal of boundaries regarding provocative opinions rather than limiting them.


Shabnam Sadeghi

Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings Another question inquired as to what the respondent would find more productive when addressing a difficult issue; boundless discussions or discussions in which the feelings of the vulnerable participants are taken into account. The top three respondents who seemed most supportive of boundless discussions was a man studying social sciences in an EA-country and two women studying social and natural sciences, both residing in an ED-country. Among the reasons were “(...) pretty much everything can be a trigger, because people react differently” and “I believe in people to communicate and discuss freely with no threat imposed (...) on them”. After analyzing the answers to this question, it appears that approximately 25 percent of the students participating agree that completely free discussions are the optimal option when working with difficult issues. The rest of the respondents lean more towards a compromise between allowing open discussions and retaining a certain amount of respect and tolerance to one another. This could possibly be connected to what was found in the background section of this case study regarding students’ change of focus in terms of activism. As mentioned in the background, the recent spread of safe spaces has occurred in parallel to the decline of students’ engagement in university politics. This confirms the correlation between this tendency with the majority of the respondents being in favor of retaining some respect between participants in a discussion. To show a specific example, a respondent answered that the best option in difficult discussions is “free discussions, based on respect (and) tolerance. With a moderator or group of them to lead the conversation and avoid disrespect.” Another pointed out the importance of talking “about why something is difficult to talk about”. A student reasoned that the solution is “making open and educational speeches (...) without, however, using phrases based on pure and simple hate (...)” and “(...) hate speeches should be identified and exposed reproachfully, without being taken into account.” They also emphasized that “participants must be willing to change their mind during the discussion.” Another summarized their opinion into “talk, respect, tolerance…”, which appears to be the favored opinion among the respondents. When asked “Do you find the right of your fellow students and lecturers to express their opinions to be more important than you potentially feeling offended?”, approximately 67 percent answered yes. The respondents were then asked if they believe safe spaces can contribute to shielding students from potentially upsetting situations, and here an amount of 73 percent responded yes. This was followed by an open question in which the respondents were asked to elaborate in a few sentences whether they think safe spaces can be helpful to students who withhold from participating in discussions due to fear of being offended. To this, one student answered that safe spaces are a good idea because it facilitates a safe environment in which participants can explain uncomfortable situations as well as have an open place to talk. Another one agreed by saying that safe spaces make people comfortable sharing thoughts without fearing judgement. One more answered that they believe safe spaces ensure that “whatever happens there is private, non-personal and non-offensive”. However, one respondent perceived the issue to be very difficult, as “what offends one may not be offensive to others. (...) it’s really hard to create a safe space for everyone involved. Another supporter of safe spaces, on the other hand, rooted for “(...) more security!”. Further, approximately 64 percent said they would prefer a trigger warning if they were to be exposed to distressing content which may make them feel uncomfortable, which corresponds with the respondents’ general views on safe spaces.


Case 1

As presented in the background chapter, the growing trend of safe spaces is a threat to academic freedom (Kwiek, 2006, p. 5). If this is found to be true, the survey results suggest a paradox. The reason for this is the 67 percent of the respondents who found a person’s right to express their opinions more important than their right to feel offended, at the same time as 73 percent think safe spaces are a good idea for preventing distressing situations for certain students. This contradiction could be caused by the formulation of the questions, referring to the tendency of leading questions due to my level of knowledge beforehand. It could also be the difference between mine and the respondents’ perception of safe spaces, meaning, based on their answers to previous questions on this topic, that what I have found to be the definition of safe spaces doesn’t match with their understanding of the term. In this manner their answers don’t necessarily need to be contradictory according to themselves. The results of a question I reviewed as leading in the methodology, revealed surprising numbers. The question was the following: “Do you think participating in safe spaces will make students more reluctant to listen to their opponents’ opinions?”, to which a majority of 58 percent disagreed. This could mean that they are confident in their knowledge of safe spaces, and therefore can clear out what they consider to be incorrect effects of the concept. The 25 percent of respondents who found completely open discussion environments to be the optimal choice were residing in ED- and EA-countries, which are all ranked relatively low on the LDI scale. This leads to the assumption that the lack of democracy and liberalism could make them desire it even more. It is to be noted that the respondents in favor of boundless discussion environments represented a wide enough range of study programmes and gender for us to not be able to generalize opinions on this topic dependent on these two factors. Therefore, we can conclude that the support of open discussions among the students is independent of gender and study programme, but possibly determined by the social and political conditions they are exposed to in their respective countries. There is reason to believe that there exists certain structural circumstances that contribute to shape the students’ relations to topics involving free speech and limitations of discussion environments. The students were then asked if they would prefer to discuss difficult topics with people they agreed with, or an opponent. Those who preferred an opponent, were represented by countries categorized as ED and EA, with one exception of LD, which holds up the assumption that supporters of free discussions are residents in areas deficient of democracy and liberalism. In addition, 33 percent of these were males, which is a higher percentage than what the males make up in total of the respondents. Next, the students were challenged to, on a scale from 1 to 5, choose to what degree they would take into account other participants’ feelings when discussing a controversial topic, 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest. Approximately 30 percent chose 5, while the rest were equally distributed between 2, 3 and 4. This indicates that the students are relatively cautious in discussions with one another, which matches their general opinions on how participants should treat each other when debating and discussing. The survey then inquired who the respondents consider to be responsible for creating a safe discussion environment at universities, which I also will look closer at in conjunction with some other questions. All of the respondents included the lecturers and/or the university as an institution in their answers. A female from an LD-country highlighted the role that schools and lecturers have in teaching how to lead discussions with rationality and a critical mind, as they are the ones with experience in educating students. 27

Shabnam Sadeghi

Critical Thinking and Academic Freedom The other issues the students emphasized were what they believe stimulates critical thinking, as well as whose and what responsibility it is to secure this. Lastly I will look at to what extent they feel students and lecturers at their university have academic freedom. Developing Critical Thinking The students were asked if they think the curriculum they’re exposed to helps them develop critical thinking. Here it is important to keep in mind whether the students study social or natural science, as the understanding of critical thinking may vary according to the field of study. This is confirmed by one of the respondents who studies natural sciences and said “no such curriculum concerning controversial topics have been presented”. There is reason to believe that the students experience the educational system to be stimulating to their critical thinking, as most of the respondents answered yes. However, a student from an EA-country expressed the opinion that the curriculums are often too focused on culture and tradition rather than modern thoughts and ideas. Another respondent argued that they “don’t think that absolute rationality exists”, which I perceive to be implying that it is impossible for us to determine what rational and critical thinking really means, as it is relative. When asked whether or not they believe being exposed to provocative opinions can contribute to more reflective thinking, 82 percent of the students answered yes. When raising the vital question about whether students in academia are challenged enough to develop critical reasoning and thinking, this study has answered one of the aspects of the question, which is if the students themselves experience a form for intellectual development. As most of the students claimed they receive enough stimuli to challenge their mindset, I can therefore confirm that the target audience of this study feel as if they are intellectually growing at their universities. With that being said, there were still exceptions of certain students who for example claimed that their universities 28

were too focused on cultural traditions rather than modern ideas, referring to the EA-country residing student presented earlier. As we have seen, one respondent from an EA-country stated that their university is too focused on culture and tradition rather than modern ideas, which gives reason to believe that countries of lower scores of democracy and liberalism tend to control their respective institutions more according to the governmental agendas, in opposition to democracies where the universities’ autonomy and the employees’ academic freedom is highly valued. Therefore the mentioned respondent’s answer is a valid reflection of this characteristic.

I can therefore confirm that the target audience of this study feel as if they are intellectually growing at their universities.

Case 1

Freedom to Discuss and Criticize When asked if they experience that students have the freedom to initiate discussions at their university regarding controversial topics, approximately 63 percent of the respondents answered yes. Their reasons were that they perceive universities as open spaces, and that they generally feel free to participate in discussions in class. Among the 37 percent that answered no, one respondent from an EA-country answered that: “Although the country is democratic, the government practices a close system type (...) where the government and military oversee everything (...). I think students are afraid maybe their discussions on some controversial topics could get to the authorities and land them in trouble.” One respondent from an LD country said the following: “(...) a lack of experience, knowledge, and respect may result in a bad reputation for the university.” A student from an EA country responded: “(...) based on their cultures and probably Islamic cultures, students are not much involved in discussions such as homosexuality, gender equality, capitalism, sexual education (...), some would tell it is a sin or beyond our Islamic culture to discuss such sort of topics.”

er, but it doesn’t mean it will mean anything”, as another answered “I would not have an efficient way of changing it”. These two answers suggest that the university environments are organized in a manner which leaves space for criticism of the institution, but that the road there is a long and bureaucratic one. The reason could perhaps be that the universities aren’t as flexible regarding criticism as I assumed, which in turn could be caused by confidence on the university part that the curriculum is optimal. In an Indonesian respondent’s opinion, criticizing the lecturers would be a bad idea because “in my country, we have to respect the elders”. One student located in an EA-country explained they don’t want to be targeted based on their status as an international student if they went as far as criticizing the university. Another one, also residing in an EA-categorized country, answered that if they criticized the curriculum “(...) this would affect the progress of my studies.” Such a perception indicates that their respective country fulfills what there is to expect from an EA-country, referring to limitations of freedom of expression and persecutions of those who intimidate the authorities. Regarding the respondents’ personal experiences, they perceive their universities to be facilitating the same opportunities for both students and lecturers to initiate discussions involving controversial topics.

The exact same numbers were obtained when the students were asked a similar question only regarding lecturers’ instead of students’ freedom to begin controversial discussions. Whatever the respondents answered on the first question, they also answered on the second one. The respondents were also asked to briefly elaborate whether or not they feel the freedom to criticize the curriculum and/or the lecturers. Most of the respondents agreed that they don’t, reasoned by the perception of not having the same amount of influence as their lecturers, meaning they aren’t on the same intellectual level and therefore don’t have the same authority to put forward their opinions as valid ones. More specifically, a student said “we can file a complaint lat29

Shabnam Sadeghi


Generally speaking, most students put a high value on freedom of speech, and prioritize it over someone’s potential of feeling offended by someone using this right. Especially the respondents residing in countries categorized as semi or weak liberal democracies were more clear in believing that discussions should be free in order to secure optimal problem solving. Still, the majority of the students are in favor of a form for arranging safe spaces, as they believe that it is an effective way of securing participation from normally withdrawn students who fear upsetting situations. Disagreements regarding safe spaces boil down to the dilemma of whether we prefer students actively participating in discussions via regulated safe spaces, or feeling more uncomfortable in free discussion environments. Considering the vast majority of students who believed that they are developing critical thinking on the basis of the curriculum they are exposed to, one can conclude that they themselves can sense their intellectual progress, which gives hope to those in support of student uprisings and their effect on the political arena. That said, it would have been interesting to take a deep dive into some specific views on the matter in order to gain a thorough understanding of certain opinions. But since one of the main purposes of investigating these topics was to collect different views from different perspectives, it was more relevant to put through a survey in order to reach out to a larger quantity of respondents. Another aspect of the issue which, in my opinion, is vital to collecting comprehensive knowledge on the issue is how the use of safe spaces and regulation of freedom of discussion affects students directly, meaning how it affects the development of critical thinking and reflection. With insight into this, it would have been more clear to us what consequences the students’ opinions on the relevant topics have on their intellectual progress, and with that, what sort of academic benefits are being provided by our universities to those who one day will govern the world.


Case 1


Edda Vidarsdottir

Towards a More Ethical Development of Digital Platforms What conditions should be present in order for technology in digital platforms to be developed in a way that facilitates healthy digital behavior?


Case 2


Social media platforms have become an important meeting place for social interaction, and the main source of information among many different demographics. These platforms have become more and more problematic, as exemplified in The Social Dilemma, a documentary drama which explores damages the extensive use of social media platforms has on its users and society. It became the highest ranked documentary on Netflix and engaged a large, multinational audience. The documentary explores how technology insiders have a great impact on how these platforms are built. This case investigates further what conditions should be present for technology in social media platforms to be developed in a way that facilitates healthy digital behavior. The report analyzes the work being conducted by The Center for Humane Technology, a non-profit organization working for technology being built to facilitate human needs and values. The findings show that it requires extensive changes in politics and business models in order to make a change. I come to the conclusion that raising awareness among technologists and users of social media platforms about the damaging implications is the first and most important step towards a change of priorities among business leaders and for political influence. 33

Edda Vidarsdottir


In 2006, New York Times Magazine nominated “You”, meaning everyone, to be the “Person of the Year” for transforming the information age by consuming and generating content on the Internet (Nichols, 2007). Since then people around the world have been interacting with digital tools for different purposes such as communicating with friends, sharing dance videos, and participating in political discussions. There are a wide range of platforms to join, and companies are continuing to improve usability and applicability to meet the needs of their users’ attention, but these features do not always favor the users. Technologists that have contributed in designing some of these digital platforms have started to speak out about how influential tech companies actually work in order to maximise the time users spend interacting with their platforms. In the Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” (Orlowski, 2020) we are introduced to former employees in social media companies such as Facebook, Google, and Apple. The companies are using algorithms, design features, and data to encourage us to keep interacting with their platform for as long as possible in order to sell advertisement space by exploiting our human weaknesses (Orlowski, 2020). I will take a closer look at why these design features in social media are considered to disfavor the user’s inner values, and what it will take to change the growth of these techniques. The case will focus on organizations and individuals working for systemic change in order to make technology more humane and ethical. The need for change arises from research showing that problems such as increased incidence of depressions, political polarization, and impaired attention span is highly influenced by the digital environment facilitated by technological development (Center for Humane Technology, 2020a). Expanded use of social media is fueled by addiction because of technical design features developed to support a market strategy that makes money on users’ attention rather than their actual benefits and well-being (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.g). I will be mapping the


movement towards an ethical change in digital technology by analyzing the content in conversations among people who agree that the responsibility for the negative aspects of social media lies in the hands of the technology industry rather than the users themselves. The research question is: What conditions should be present in order for technology in digital platforms to be developed in a way that facilitates healthy digital behavior? First I will define key concepts and look closer at the background for this movement. Then I will explain and discuss the methodology used to research this question, before analysing the data collected from the conversations previously mentioned to consider different solutions.

Background and Theory

In this chapter I will define the concepts of persuasive technology and machine learning, as they are essential in understanding the technological functioning of social media platforms. I will explain how the CDA 230, as an existing law to facilitate freedom of expression, has made interactive communications between users of social media possible. I will then look closer at some of the key people in the ethical system design movement. Finally, the business model many tech companies base their business on will be described, as it is one of the key reasons problems potentially get out of control. Persuasive Technology and Machine Learning Digital technology has transformed the way we communicate, collaborate, share information, and socialize. Social media can be defined as websites and computer programs that allow people to communicate and share information on the Internet using a computer or mobile phone (“Social media”, 2020). In this study I will focus on social media as persuasive technology and emphasize that people use social media because they provide value and connect people to friends, ideas, and information. Persuasive technology is a common term to describe technology designed to reinforce alteration or improve attitudes, behavior, or both without coercion or deception (Widyasari, Nugroho & Permanasari,

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2019). Fogg (1998, p. 225-226) defines persuasion as “an attempt to shape, reinforce, or change behaviors, feelings, or thoughts about an issue, object or action”. He emphasizes that technology is persuasive when it is created, distributed, or adopted with an intention to affect human attitudes or behaviors (Fogg, 1998). One technology implemented in social media for improved efficiency and optimisation is machine learning. Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed (Expert System Team, 2020). Systems based on machine learning work to identify patterns in big amounts of data in order to give an accurate output (Expert System Team, 2020). They are able to learn and self-correct when they are presented with new data. These mechanisms are implemented in Google search engines, Youtube recommendations, and friend recommendations on Facebook and are therefore relevant when it comes to the discussion of ethical digital platforms (Artificial Intelligence Team, n.d.). The Communications Decency Act of 1996, section 230, is a federal law in the United States of America considered to be the most influential law in allowing the Internet to grow since the founding in 1996. The law is often referred to as “The CDA 230”. It says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”. The law has enabled freedom of expression and innovation on the internet (Electronic Frontier Foundation, n.d.) The law allows the provider of websites, blogs, and forums not to be responsible for content the users upload on their platforms. This implies that platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are not forced to censor content their users upload. Without the law we would most likely not have free, interactive services like social media because it would be costly and time consuming to review all uploads (Electronic Frontier Foundation, n.d.).


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The Movement of Ethical System Design When designing interactive technology, it is a challenge to balance between good user experience and interfaces that actively encourages the user into addictive habits. Major tech platforms have developed and implemented several features as an attempt to make their platforms facilitate more healthy digital behavior. YouTube implemented a “take a break” notification at self-reported time limits in 2018 (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.a). Google made it easier for the user to track and understand their digital behaviors through an initiative called Digital Wellbeing (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.a). In 1998, the Stanford behavior scientist B. J. Fogg, formulated and published the first paper to address the ethics of persuasive technology, which shows that this problem has been on the agenda for quite a while (Stanford University, n.d.). This paper is still required reading for students and members of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab. Fogg (1998, p. 230) emphasizes that values vary and that this makes it important for designers to base their design on what he calls a “defensible ethical standard”. This involves the ideas that computing design should avoid deception, respect individual privacy, and enhance personal freedom (Fogg, 1998, p. 230). Fogg (1998) noted that researchers have a responsibility to evaluate both the intended and unintended implications made with persuasive technology. He also encourages taking social action, or advocating for others if a computing artifact can be considered harmful or questionable (Fogg, 1998, p .230). He emphasized that educating people about persuasive technology helps them to use technologies in a way that enhances their lives, and to be aware of which tactics are used to persuade them (Fogg, 1998). Tristan Harris, one of the people we meet in The Social Dilemma (Orlowski, 2020), was a former en-

Fogg (1998) noted that researchers have a responsibility to evaluate both the intended and unintended implications made with persuasive technology. gineer at Google. He is an influential voice in the movement of making technology more humane. Through years of experience working on his degree in computer science focused on human computer interaction, as well as working for Google and Apple, Harris became aware of the negative impacts increased use of social media had on individuals and social interactions (Tristan Harris, n.d.). He started to communicate his concerns with other employees and technologists through conversations and a presentation (Tristan Harris, n.d.). He later started to inform the public through Ted Talks and interviews (Tristan Harris, n.d.). In 2018, Tristan Harris (n.d.) founded the nonprofit organization The Center for Humane Technology. The organization focuses on the ethics of consumer technology as they assume some digital technology to be downgrading humanity (Thompson, 2019). The phrase “human downgrading” is coined by Tristan Harris and the Center for Humane Technology, set to combine the negative effects of digital technology on humans and human life (Rouse, n.d.). The Center for Humane Technology is concerned with digital addiction, increasing polarization, social comparison, cyberbullying, disinformation, political manipulation and superficiality (CNBC, 2019). They consider technology as a force that affects how we think, feel and behave in a more divisive direction, and consider the extraction economy a hurdle to human interests (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.b). Through conversations with executives, designers and programmers from the tech industry, it became clear that most people want to find solutions to these issues. They work to support technologists to take responsibility in order to develop technology more humanely instead of holding the consumers accountable (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.b).


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Attention Economy and the Business Model : To Pay With Attention In 1997, Michael H. Goldhaber (1997) pointed out that the ability to consume material things is no longer keeping up with the possible production rate. As people become more busy, attention becomes a scarce resource. Goldhaber predicted that the global economy had started to change from a money-industrial economy towards an attention economy. He also suggested that this new economy was based on endless originality and diversity as attention can not be standardised. Goldhaber (1997) emphasized that being able to extract attention would lead to success. Google, Facebook, and Apple, among others, are now fighting for the consumers’ attention through optimized technology developed with the intention of keeping the users’ attention and need for interaction (White, 2014). The attention economy can be described as a market war between tech companies (Memory, n.d.). Through offering a free, but useful platform for the users to interact with, the activity on the platform is tracked with the purpose of tailoring content in order to keep the user interacting (Memory, n.d.). The platforms are also collecting data about the users in order to create targeted ads for the users (Matsakis, 2018). Big Data is a term used to describe the enormous amounts of data created the last couple of years (SAS Institute Inc., n.d.). McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report defines it as “large pools of data that can be captured, communicated, aggregated, stored, and analyzed” (Bradshaw, n.d.). Processing and analysing data correctly can improve decision making, help risk management and produce valuable insights about social behavior more accurately and effectively than other statistics or surveys (Bradshaw, n.d.).


Edda Vidarsdottir


The methodology chapter will explain the choice of document analysis as the research method, as well as the process of collecting and analyzing the data. The quality of the data will also be discussed. Research Design Document analysis As previously mentioned, the study will focus on factors needed to make technology more ethical. Many people are working on this at the moment. The contributors are using several approaches in order to reach out to decision makers and the public. Through articles, podcasts, debates, and interviews, these activists are communicating possible solutions to solve complex problems related to technology in people’s digital life (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.b). Because of this, it is important to examine the content across these platforms in order to find the main motivation behind the movement, their most valuable arguments, and whom these organizations and individuals make responsible for actual change. Document analysis is suitable for examining nuances of different perspectives, organizational behavior, and change over time (Bowen, 2009). A document analysis is a research method that consists of reviewing documents that already exist (Bowen, 2009). The method is chosen in order to capture the variety of factors through work being conducted among different actors in debates. Data Collection and Analysis I have chosen to look at The Center for Humane Technology’s contribution to the movement of making technology more ethical because their work is based on the assumption that the problems related to social media is the industry’s responsibility (Center for Human Technology, n.d.b). The organization describes their team as consisting of deeply concerned tech industry and social impact leaders who intimately understand how the tech industry’s culture, techniques, and business models control 21st century digital infrastructure. Among the executives and con-


tributors are professors, researchers, scientists and authors that together represent a broad understanding of the problem. The organization is non-profit, but funded by several foundations and funds (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.c). The Center for Humane Technology is presenting information about the organization and the work being conducted through their website at The website clearly shows the call to engage technologists, students, parents, educators and policymakers (Center for Human Technology, n.d.c). Different types of information and guidance are offered depending on which role the participator can take in the movement. The section for technologists includes several tools and resources for the purpose of inspiring and educating technologists to align technology with human needs (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.c). The principles of humane technology are one of the documents which is examined in more detail in the analysis. The technologists are also offered other resources, such as a humane design worksheet, newsletters and an upcoming online course (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.d). Students, parents, and educators are presented with information about how technology shapes our lives and values. Parents and educators are provided with third-party organizations which are not a part of The Center for Humane Technology, but are considered by them to be doing good work. Through the website, The Center for Humane Technology proves to be open to suggestions and feedback from the general public (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.e) These qualities indicate a genuine interest to get to the bottom of the problems and provide durable solutions. Your Undivided Attention is a podcast from The Center for Humane Technology as a contribution to provide technologists and others with knowledge about different aspects of the contextual relationship between technology and society (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.f ). The podcast is hosted by the founder Tristan Harris and co-founder Aza Raskin (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.f ). The hosts are both former

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tech insiders and have seen and designed technology which seize the user’s attention (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.f ). I have chosen to analyse this podcast because of the relevant experience Tristan Harris and Aza Rskin have from the industry as technologists. They are both deeply involved in the movement of humane technology as they are important figures in The Center for Humane Technology. Through their work with the movement of ethical design they explore a diversity of approaches through interviewing different experts on themes related to the problem. The host represents knowledge and experience on a wide and extensive level in which they explain key points in the interviews. This makes it easy to understand the complexity of the problem. I have chosen to analyse two episodes of the podcast where we meet two people who are engaged in finding solutions relevant to how technology influences our lives. In episode 3 of Your Undivided Attention: “With Great Power Comes… No Responsibility” we meet the former CIA officer and advisor at the white house, Yaël Eisenstat (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). Lately, she has worked with advising technology companies in the U.S. because she wanted to contribute in changing the way technology was contributing to polarization and election hacking (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). Yaël shares her perspective on the government’s role in regulating tech (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). I have chosen this episode because of the conversation regarding the CDA 230 and the alternative solutions Eisenstat suggests. In episode 4 of Your Undivided Attention: “Down the Rabbit Hole by Design” we meet the Artificial Intelligence expert Guillaume Chaslot (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). Harris, Aza and Chaslot reflect on implications of systems designed to catch and keep the user’s attention, and discuss some points of view on the CDA 230 (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). Chaslot contributed to the making of YouTube’s recommendation engine and explains how those priorities emphasize outrage, conspiracy theories and extremism (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). Chaslot also talks about his project Algo-

Transparency which tracks and publicizes YouTube recommendations for controversial content channels (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). This episode is chosen because it represents an example of how hard it is to evoke change in the industry of software because of the priorities set by the companies. Even with well-intentioned and alternative solutions the need for policies is necessary. Another part of the work The Center for Humane Technology is conducting is raising awareness and driving change through high-profile presentations to global leaders. Tristan Harris participated in a congressional hearing entitled “Americans at Risk: Manipulation and Deception in the Digital Age” (Center for Humane Technology, 2020b). His speech represents some of the key information considered to be important in order to make people aware of the impacts and implications of the problem. It also shows what kind of involvement from policymakers is important in order to affect systemic change, which is why it is chosen for the analysis. Through the work of finding relevant documents to analyze, I have looked at a variety of approaches to the relationship between digital development and societal impacts. Tristan Harris and The Center for Humane Technology have been shown to be seen as important contributors to the movement, as they were often referred to in articles and interviews. I have gone through large parts of the information produced or shared by them, through their websites and podcast episodes. The Center for Humane Technology clearly shows that there is a need for many groups to get informed and involved in the movement. I have broadly read the range of involved institutions and fields of expertise before deciding to focus specifically on technologists because that is the career starting point of many committed contributors to the movement. I have analysed the documents by looking for themes and aspects that are relevant to the research question. It was important to get a grip on what was important through searching for elements that were repeatedly discussed across documents.


Edda Vidarsdottir

Quality of Data To assess the quality of the conclusions drawn from this research, we rely on the terms validity, reliability, and generalizability. Validity refers to the logical connection between the questions asked, the method chosen, and the conclusions we reach (Tjora, 2017, p. 231). In simple terms, high validity means that we are measuring the right concepts to answer the questions we ask. Low validity can be a result of problems with research design. Reliability, on the other hand, refers to the more random errors that can occur during a research process (Ringdal, 2014, p. 355). Both validity and reliability affects the generalizability of the research presented. Generalizability refers to the relevance the presented results can have to a broader perspective (Tjora, 2017, p. 231). Do these results speak for other cases than the one investigated? In the following, these dimensions of quality will be addressed. Validity The validity in this study is strengthened by the fact that the choice of research method is accounted for, and that the choice of documents is also explained. With the research question being: What conditions should be present for technology in social media platforms to be developed in a way that facilitates healthy digital behavior?, the documents chosen give us good insight into skilled professionals’ thoughts on this topic. This has made it possible to organize essential points of improvement for technologists, which are presented in the analysis to answer the research question. The research is also based on previous research conducted on this topic, for example by Fogg and Harris, which strengthens its validity as the starting point for the research question is rooted in valid research. Reliability Before starting the research of this theme I was aware of the relationship between use of social media and the impact it has on mental abilities. I have been using several social media platforms over a decade and know how they have developed through the years. As a student in the field of Computer Science I have had undergraduate courses such as programming and system development. Through the courses I have learned fundamental skills, but most importantly in this context I have experienced what programmers and system developers learn in their first classes in a Norwegian university. It has been important to set my experiences and assumptions aside, and present the information in the documents in a neutral way. I have done this through ensuring the elements are actualized through various platforms. How the documents have been chosen and analyzed is previously accounted for which strengthens the reliability of the study. Generalizability The role of social media in our society in terms of information distribution and socialisation is the main focus in this study. In terms of generalizability, this study already has a wide basis as it is meant to answer what technologists in general can do to create more ethical digital platforms. The term “technologists’’ covers many professions. Algorithms, data and machine learning are technologies that automate other functions in society other than social media platforms. Therefore, developing technology in an ethical manner could be generalized to cover more than social media platforms.


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Edda Vidarsdottir

Analysis and Discussion

In this chapter, extracts from the documents presented earlier will be analyzed to point out different methods for moving towards a more ethical technological development. First I will look at how the technologists see structural change as necessary, and then how we also need cultural change from both companies and users in order to put pressure on the system while waiting for regulations to be put in place. Structural Change : Regulations and Laws A Quest for Allocating Responsibility Tristan Harris testified at the Congressional Hearing on consumer protection and commerce on January 8th, 2020 (Center for Humane Technology, 2020b). The hearing was titled “Americans at Risk: Manipulation and Deception in the Digital Age” (Center for Humane Technology, 2020b). Harris argues that the issue of technological deception and manipulation is an infrastructural problem and that the responsibility for the problems should be put on the people building the infrastructure, instead of the consumers (Center for Humane Technology, 2020b). He focuses on two problems related to the business model of social media - mental health among youths and polarized information distribution (Center for Humane Technology, 2020b). He points out that the solutions to the problems related to social media are not aligned with the business model of the tech companies that offer these services (Center for Humane Technology, 2020b). In the background I wrote about the attention as a scarce resource and the attention economy as a market war between tech companies. The race for the users’ attention in social media platforms is powered by attention-grabbing design, for example visually through the use of colors and graphics and audibly through notifications (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). The need for acceptance and attention from others is exploited in a system based on numerically visible reactions, such as likes, shares and comments (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). The way technology is being built is based on human behaviors, but does not necessarily favor humans’ own interest (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). 42

The technical design features are still profitable because it keeps the user interacting with the digital platform (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). A continuous development of these features has been necessary in order to compete with other sources the users attention may be dragged towards (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). Harris addresses these issues as a national security threat and requires that the government contribute with external guidelines for the companies, as it is not sufficient to rely on the moral compasses of employees in this profitable industry (Center for Humane Technology, 2020b). He suggests initiating a massive awareness campaign to show the public how companies are manipulating their attention for profit (Center for Humane Technology, 2020b). According to Harris, laws and regulations in the physical society should be equally applicable in the digital society (Center of Humane Technology, 2020b). The business model profits from the amount of time users interact with the platform, and the use of data created through patterns of behavior (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). The negative effects this has on the user and society is well documented, but does not affect the company’s financial gain (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). In episode 3 of Your Undivided Attention: “With Great Power Comes… No Responsibility?”, Yaël suggests a potential method to increase the continuing developing growth of the successfulness of attention extracting business models (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). She suggests quantifying the effects attention extraction has on public health, productivity, and polarization, and using this as a basis for taxing profiteering companies accordingly (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). This would make it less attractive for companies to earn money on people’s attention, and thus make the business model unsustainable (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). It would be a significant challenge to accurately estimate the economic costs of decreased attention span, increased polarization, disinformation and social media addictiveness. I will later discuss raising awareness among the users about the business model and the impact of social media.

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Freedom of Speech or Freedom of Reach The CDA230 is important for freedom of expression because it does not force the platforms to censor uploads. In episode 4 of Your Undivided Attention: Down the Rabbit Hole by Design, Guillaume Chaslot, Aza Raskin and Tristan Harris discuss the CDA 230 (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). Guillaume Chaslot justifies the CDA 230 as a way of legislating user uploads, but he points out that CDA 230 was voted into action before artificial intelligence was implemented in recommendation systems in social media (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). CDA 230 was not originally formulated to justify Google’s freedom to create algorithms intended to recommend content with the aim of increased watch time (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). 70 percent of views on Youtube are generated by the recommendation engine (AlgoTransparency, n.d.). These numbers show how the technology implemented on YouTube is to a large extent responsible for what we see on YouTube. What content we are presented with on YouTube is not a reflection of users’ uploads, but what content that keeps attention on the platform. In the conversation, Raskin refers to a distinction between responsibility regarding users uploads and the responsibility regarding which content to promote or amplify: “The freedom of speech is not the same thing as the freedom of reach” (Harris & Raskin, 2019b, [34.30-34.36]). When YouTube choses which content to amplify they are choosing what information millions of viewers are presented with every day. It does not matter that there are machines making these choices, because there are humans developing the systems and choosing what conditions is important. One can question if there is an important distinction between recommendations from artificial intelligence compared to recommendations by acquaintances. Chaslot considers it to be important to shed light on the algorithms that amplify content, to understand how they work and demonstrate their outcomes (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). I will talk more about this when we look more closely at Chaslot’s examination of the amplification patterns in YouTube. In another episode of Your Undivided Attention,

episode 3 called “With Great Power Comes… No Responsibility?” Harris, Raskin and former CIA officer Yaël Eisenat discuss the lack of nuance in the conversation about CDA 230 (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). The conversation has turned into a polarized conversation regarding whether you are for or against the freedom of expression (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). The focus on content moderation overshadows the need for a systemic change (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). Yaël calls for a determination of what role the platforms should have, and to find a way to regulate them accordingly (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). As long as CDA 230 is not adjusted, the companies are not responsible for what content you see on their platforms (Harris & Raskin, 2019a). Cultural Change : Companies and Users Making a Change from the Inside The Center for Humane Technology (n.d.b) is supporting technologists in changing the way technology is built by suggesting other criterias for success. Improving the technologist’s knowledge about the relationship between the human mind and technology is set as a fundament for creating technology which honors humane nature and helps the consumers live lifes aligned with their deepest values (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.d). The Center for Humane Technology (n.d.d) has developed what they call “Principles of Humane Technology” in order to guide technologists to grow responsibility for the technology they develop. The principles are based on the idea that technology is not neutral, but rather shapes our social life (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.d). They base this statement on three reasons. The first is that the technologist’s values and assumptions shape the way technology is built (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.d). This appears through selecting which features should be set by default, which and in what order content should be presented, and which options for interaction the user should have. The second reason why technology is not neutral is that the intentions of the developer can fail to comply with the actual values and assumptions of the world (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.d). 43

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Economic pressure to grow sales for shareholders and social dynamics change the effects of the new technology. The third reason is that interactions with digital technologies affect how we feel and shape our life just as other interactions with humans and real life experiences (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.d). The Center for Humane Technology (n.d.d) exemplifies the last reason by referring to the social media environment of likes and comments that shape what we share and how the numeric reactions affect how we feel about it. In episode 4 of Your Undivided Attention: Down the Rabbit Hole by Design Guillame Chaslot talks about his experience working in Google (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). His experience is an example which shows the importance of supporting technologists to grow responsibility for the systems they develop. Chaslot worked with improving the algorithms in the recommendation feature on YouTube in 2010 and 2011 (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). After successfully optimizing the algorithms which made the numbers of streams multiply, he observed how the recommendations systematically seemed to favor extreme content (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). Chaslot, together with motivated co-engineers at Google, developed and suggested other algorithmic options (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). But due to management’s top priority being to increase watch time with 30 percent every year, the options were rejected (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). An attempt to get people out of their filter bubbles were seen as a distraction towards the main goal of obtaining the users attention to increase the time they spend online (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). Similar recommendation systems are implemented in Instagram, Snapchat and other social media platforms (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). As a result of Chaslot’s discoveries about the functioning of the algorithms, he founded a project in 2018 called AlgoTransparency (n.d.). In the project he examines the incentive structure of the recommendation engine as an attempt to visualize which videos are getting most recommended (AlgoTransparency, n.d.). In episode 4 44

An attempt to get people out of their filter bubbles were seen as a distraction towards the main goal of obtaining the users attention to increase the time they spend online. of Your Undivided Attention Chaslot, Harris and Raskin (2019b) explain a few factors that make the algorithms effective for generating increased views through grabbing the users attention. One of the topic that is effective at grabbing our attention is conspiracy theories. Chaslot explains that there are multiple reasons why conspiracy theories are effective. Conspiracy theories are easy to create. The people who believe in conspiracy theories often do not watch classical media and therefore spend more time on YouTube (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). YouTube’s algorithm weighs the activity of people who spend more time on YouTube more heavily than people who do not spend as much time on YouTube (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). The algorithm does not consider content that shows morality or truth, because these qualities do not necessarily generate more views (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). In order for the recommendations to be relevant for generating views it is necessary to recommend videos that people actually watch (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). Harris explains that getting the viewer to watch more videos is not the only factor that increases the tilt towards extreme content. The rush of feedback the creators at YouTube gets when the number of views on their content increases stimulates addiction to getting attention from other people (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). This stimulates the creators to make content that gets a lot of attention by being creative and extreme in the race for the viewers attention. In episode 4 of Your Undivided Attention, Aza and Harris point out that the society structurally is dependent on unpaid, nonprofit civil society researchers like Guillaume Chaslot to see the inner problems and communicate them to the rest of the world’s population (Harris & Raskin, 2019b).

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Harris and Raskin (2019b) talk about why amplification transparency is a great idea because it shows why the algorithms are behaving one way or the other. These systems are not only applied on YouTube, but in other platforms such as Facebook, Google Autocomplete, and Twitter etc. (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). Raskin assumes that there is no significant difference between choosing the content to amplify or choosing an algorithm which chooses the content to amplify (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). Because the choice of amplification is affecting what information many people are presented with every day, the power of the choice being made is not aligned with the lack of responsibility on the platforms. For example, 70 % of the total amount of views on YouTube are determined by the recommendation algorithm (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). By visualizing the functioning of the algorithm through amplification transparency it is possible for civil society to determine if the patterns of amplification of content is aligned with our values or not. In this way it is possible to make the platforms, rather than the user, accountable. In this system, it will be visible that the recommendations we get on social media platforms are not random, but motivated by a purpose of engaging the user. Chaslot’s failed attempt to convince the management to change the algorithms clearly shows why technology companies need pressure from several sources in order to commit to a change of strategy. Harris points out that it is not true that the companies are unable to understand the problem, but rather consider the questions surrounding it less important than other plans for the company. For instance, there are new phones to ship and new versions of Android to launch. (Harris & Raskin, 2019b). To change the priorities in the companies it can be necessary to involve the users’. Encourage Users to Express Their Needs Raising awareness about how digital technology affects human life is necessary as a supplement in the development for more humane technology. The problems related to how social media constructs the user’s social life is current. Changing

the culture among technologists, creating new market conditions for humane technology, and agreeing on how technology companies should be regulated is necessary for sustained change. However, systemic change is not done overnight. The call to the users to take action might seem like an attempt to hold the user accountable, but it is rather to encourage the users to show what is necessary in order to align technology with their actual values. In this way, users can demand that technology companies facilitate valuable interactions with social media. The Center for Humane Technology (n.d.e) provides recommendations for what users of social media can do to improve their relationships with digital technology. Among the suggestions is to delay access and further restricted use among children (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.e). They also suggest deleting applications such as Snapchat, Tik Tok and Instagram, or at least reconsider who to follow (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.e). The recommendations emphasize discussions in families and schools on themes like polarization, cyber bullying, and gaming addiction (Center for Humane Technology, n.d.e). It is important to remember that social media is a valuable tool for expression of freedom, information and social interactions, and is not exclusively used because of the design and features that grabs the users attention. There are actual benefits to using social media, but the heavy volume of distractions from what is important in life requires the user to be aware and conscious when interacting with the platforms. Knowledge about the market forces that dominate social media platforms today, as well as the impact the digital environment has on the human mind and social life, can help users make informed choices about how they want to involve social media in their lives.


Edda Vidarsdottir


There are many ways technologists can contribute into a movement towards more ethical development of technology. It is practically impossible to make this change without structural changes and involvement from the users to put pressure on companies. Regulations and laws are necessary in order to make a change across companies and country borders, and this especially concerns the CDA 230. This law is still essential to ensure that users of digital platforms are able to express themselves freely, without the platforms being responsible. However, as the automated technologies like machine learning and algorithms that intentionally amplify extreme content in order to keep users connected, it is necessary to decide which role the platforms play. They are profiting on designing an environment where humans interact and spread knowledge, but choose design features that filter content, making knowledge something that is individually altered instead of general. In order for these structural changes to occur, both tech companies and users need to participate. Users need to express their wishes for digital platforms, what they expect of them and what they would like to be changed. Tech companies need to take these users’ experiences into account, which will show the willingness of the community to implement regulations and laws when applied by governments and / or international organizations. A fundamental starting point to achieve these movements for change is to know the implications of existing systems and the potential alternative solutions. Technologists play a crucial role in mapping the technical functioning of existing systems and explaining their inner functioning so that the non-technologist can understand how they work. Developing knowledge on human nature among technologists is an important element of helping technologists understand the impact technology has on individuals and society. This can stimulate technology to be developed in the future to align with actual human values. 46

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There are many other interesting aspects of this topic to research, such as the consequences of the algorithms that are just briefly mentioned in this study. How have digital platforms changed the way we create and spread knowledge? This study has looked at what conditions are important for social media to be designed and used to be valuable for the users and society. It would also be interesting to dive into the way knowledge actually is being spread through the platforms today.


Sunniva Futterer-Wannebo

Refugee Children’s Educational Integration What factors affect refugee children’s integration into a new educational system, and therefore their possibility to obtain and create knowledge?


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In the 21st century, the refugee situation has been a major subject of debate. Education of the refugee children has not been discussed as much as the situation in general, and therefore, this report will examine this topic, focusing on the following research question: What factors affect refugee children’s integration into a new educational system, and therefore their possibility to obtain and create knowledge? The method chosen for this report is in-depth interviews. Two employees in the Norwegian school system who have been working with refugee children for more than 10 years were interviewed. They were asked about the childrens’ educational and social situations. During the interview, the questions were open, and allowed the interviewees to share their personal reflections. The information given by them forms the analysis of this report. The key results circle around major factors that are affecting the children’s integration. These are primarily poor educational backgrounds, motivation, and traumas from past experiences. The most crucial factor, however, seems to be insufficient language skills according to both interviewees. In addition to the above factors making it difficult, I have also looked at factors facilitating the situation, such as advantages the refugee children have and measures implemented by the Norwegian government. The main conclusion of this report is that learning the language is the most important factor for refugee children to succeed, both in school and in their social life, and that the outlooks of these children’s educational futures are not necessarily only negative. 49

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Since 2010, the amount of refugees around the world has multiplied by almost 2.5 (UNHCR, 2010). There are a variety of different causes as to why people must flee, such as conflicts, environmental challenges and oppressive regimes (UN Associations of Norway, 2019). By the end of 2019, it was estimated that as much as one percent of the world’s population was displaced, underlining the relevance of this topic (UNHCR, 2020a). In addition, there has been increasing attention to conditions in migrant camps lately. There has been an especial amount of engagement surrounding the migrant camp Moria in Lesvos in Greece (Zander, 2020). This camp is overcrowded, as it was originally intended for a maximum of 3000 people and is now housing almost 20 000 (Zander, 2020). The sanitary conditions are poor, the water supply insufficient, and the health care services are inadequate (Zander, 2020). According to child psychologist Katrin Brubakk, this “environment is extremely hostile” for the children living there (Zander, 2020). More than 50 percent of the refugees in the world are children, and only about half of them are getting education (UNHCR, n.d.d). This is a huge challenge, since education is considered to be extremely important (Thomassen, 2013). As of 1968, education is also a human right (United Nations, 1948). It contributes to personal freedom and empowerment, as well as leading to further developmental benefits (Thomassen, 2013). In addition to education being an important factor for the wellbeing of an individual, it also is valuable for the rest of the community that refugee children be educated (Thomassen, 2013). They could be a great resource and an addition to the workforce of a community and education, and the action also promotes peace (Thomassen, 2013). The research question chosen for this study is: What factors affect refugee children’s integration into a new educational system, and therefore their possibility to obtain and create knowledge? As a result of the lack of education during their


flee, integrating into a new educational system could be challenging. Considering education is a human right, and also a very important factor for succeeding, it is highly important that this transition goes smoothly. To ensure that the refugee children get a proper education, discussing this topic is highly relevant. The educational system will in this study capture the learning aspect in the classroom as well as the social aspect, as they are both considered important in order to learn. To be able to research this question, teachers in Norway working with refugee children have been interviewed. The current refugee situation will be discussed further in the first part of this study, focusing on education, as well as an explanation of sociocultural learning theory that will be used in the analysis. Furthermore, the research method used in this study will be introduced and discussed. Finally, the data collected from the interviews will be analyzed in the analysis and discussion part, which will lead to a final conclusion of the study.

Background and Theory

This chapter will take a closer look at what today’s situation for refugees involves, in order to better understand what affects integration into a new school system. The educational offer in Norway for refugees, as well as in the refugee camps, will be described. The theory used as a basis for this analysis, which is Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory, will then be presented. Refugees A refugee is defined by the United Nations Refugee Agency as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war and violence” (UNHCR, n.d.a). It is estimated that there were 79.5 million people being forcibly displaced by the end of 2019, whereof 26 million of these are refugees (UNHCR, 2020a). As much as 68 percent of these originate from Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar (UNHCR, 2020a). Since 2010, the number of refugees around the world has multiplied by almost 2.5 (UNHCR, 2010). By the end of 2018, the median duration of a flee was 5 years. Refu-

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gee status lasts until they have somewhere to go permanently (Devictor, 2019). A refugee camp is defined as a temporary shelter for refugees, where they can seek protection and assistance (UNHCR, n.d.b) There they are offered services such as food, water, healthcare and legal aid (UNHCR, n.d.b). It is estimated that only 40 percent of refugees live in such camps, while the rest live in cities (UNHCR, n.d.b). As many as 73 percent of the refugees are living in the neighboring countries of the ones most people must flee from, such as Turkey, Bangladesh, Uganda and Jordan (UNHCR, n.d.b, UNHCR, 2020a). There is also a growing number of refugees seeking protection in Europe, although this is a quite small percentage (UNHCR, 2017). In Norway it is estimated that 3.2 percent of the total population has a refugee background (SSB, 2020). Child refugees are refugees below the age of 18 years, which is the definition used in this study. These children spend a lot of their childhood, if not all, away from their homes, and some are also separated from their families and other caregivers (UNHCR, n.d.d). Consequently, these children do not get to live what many consider as regular lives, and most of them encounter traumatizing events, such as violence, sexual abuse and trafficking (UNHCR, n.d.d). These traumatizing events, as well as other experiences of fear, stress and uncertainty during their flight, can lead to mental health issues (Tribe, 2002). Since all refugees are different and have various experiences, there will be a variety of reactions. However, mental illnesses such as post traumatic stress disorder are common (Watters, 2001). Education for Refugees Education is defined as the process of learning how to live in a society with others and different skills needed for this, in a school environment (Thomassen, 2013). It is a fundamental human right, and therefore everyone has the right to access it (United Nations, 1948). While fleeing, the refugee children will lose some education. Across the world, there are 3.7 million refugee school-age children that are not in school (UN-

HCR, 2020b). According to a study of education standards in migrant camps, made by The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, 2003), the availability of education in migrant camps varies a lot. Firstly, education is not offered in all camps, and even where it is, it is not available for all children (UNHCR, 2003, p. 2). Only 58 percent of the camps in the study had an enrollment rate of 80 percent (UNHCR, 2003). The education is organized differently in different camps. The most common education services are UNHCR funded schools, government or community schools (UNHCR, 2003). Some places, the children get to go to regular school in the country where they are living while fleeing (UNHCR, 2003). Also, UNHCR’s study shows that in some of the camps, the number of students per teacher is high, and overall, around 40 percent of the teachers are not qualified for their jobs (UNHCR, 2003). Both of these factors could affect the quality of the education, which shows that also this varies a lot.

Across the world, there are 3.7 million refugee school-age children that are not in school. In addition to the problems considering lack of education in the refugee camps, another problem is that “refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than their non-refugee peers” once they arrive in a new country (UNHCR, n.d.c). There are also only three percent of refugees that enroll in higher education, which is 34 percent lower than the rest of the world’s population (UNHCR, n.d.c). One cause for this could be that mental illnesses are affecting their engagement and relationships in school (Salzer, 2012). Again, this could be associated with lower grades (Salzer, 2012). In other words, there are also problems regarding refugees’ education after getting a permanent home (UNHCR, n.d.c). In Norway, most refugee children in elementary school start attending as soon as they arrive in the country (Directorate of Education, 2012). All


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children have the right to customized education, and some countries choose to have extra classes for these children (Directorate of Education, 2012). In Norwegian this is called “mottaksklasse”, and can be translated to introductory class (Directorate of Education, 2012). The children stay in these classes as long as they are not fully equipped to benefit from regular classes (Directorate of Education, 2012). In the introductory class the main focus is on learning the language, but also other integrating elements, such as facts about Norway and social norms (Directorate of Education, 2012). The goal is also to help these children integrate into Norwegian society (Directorate of Education, 2012). This is completely voluntary, and it is the parent’s choice whether their children should go or not. However, most choose to accept the offer (Directorate of Education, 2012). For older children, the situation is a bit more complicated. As high school, which starts at 16 years old, is not mandatory in Norway, the refugees who come to Norway at that age will not necessarily be sent to school right away (Directorate of Education, 2012). They do however have the right to apply for high school, as long as they have completed nine years of elementary education, or can show that they have the necessary knowledge (Directorate of Education, 2012, p. 5). High schools sometimes have introductory classes as well, with the same goals as for the younger children; learning the language and about the Norwegian society (Directorate of Education, 2012). Despite the many similarities between the two introductory classes, the children in them are in different ages, and their ways of learning will therefore differ. For instance, younger children will have better language learning abilities (Munoz, 2006, p. 7). Sociocultural Learning Theory Vygotsky is known for his sociocultural learning theory which has become a highly popular theory in education around the world (Kozulin, 2003, p. 15). Sociocultural learning theory is based on the fact that the children’s process of learning happens in collaborative and interactive conver52

sation with more knowledgeable members of society (McLeod, 2020). In that way, children will acquire their “cultural values, beliefs and problem-solving strategies” (McLeod, 2020). During this mental development, children will evolve mental functions such as attention, sensation, perception and memory (McLeod, 2020). The children’s learning, according to Vygotsky, is dependent on several external factors (McLeod, 2020). The theory stresses that social factors contribute to cognitive development (McLeod, 2020). Consequently, the community and environment that children grow up in will influence how they learn and what type of person they will become (McLeod, 2020). Whether the child grows up in a safe environment or not can affect their personal development (McLeod, 2020). The adults around them will also be important for the same reason, in addition to them being the ones who will teach the children (McLeod, 2020). To have a positive effect on the children’s learning, the adults should be steady, but also knowledgeable (McLeod, 2020). Another important factor is language. According to Vygotsky, language is important for two main reasons; it is used to transmit the information, and it will become a tool for intellectual development (McLeod, 2020).

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The methodology chapter will explain why indepth interviews was the chosen method for this study, as well as describe the interviewees, the process of the interviews and the analysis of the data. The quality of the data collected will also be discussed. Research Design In-depth Interviews The method chosen for this study is in-depth interviews. This is a qualitative research technique, based on thorough interviews with a small number of people to examine their perspectives and insight on a topic, and that allows for opportunities for answers that have not been thought out beforehand by the interviewer (Tjora, 2017, s. 113). In this case, the interviewees have been chosen to collect data that is relevant to the current situation for refugee children in schools in Norway. This method is suitable considering that the research question wants to gain insight into refugee children’s everyday life and challenges in the Norwegian school system. There are different perceptions and perspectives on this, as it is a complex topic, and this method allows us to dive deep into two teachers’ experiences. If we were to study the statistics of refugee children’s education, the results would be more general and focus on tendencies rather than experiences. An in-depth interview will therefore allow us to discuss the children’s situations in a less general way and to examine more specific cases. By gaining in-depth knowledge from the experiences of interviewees, I believe we can get a more nuanced understanding of the phenomenon by taking into account the different experiences of professionals working with refugee children.

more than ten years. These two interviewees have been chosen based on their considerable experience with these children, with a presumption that their insight into their social lives and education is extensive. Data Collection and Analysis The interviews were held digitally through a video chat, where the interviewees were asked open topic-related questions prepared beforehand, which can be found in the appendix. The questions started out about the person’s work situation and experience with working with refugees, to make the interviewees comfortable. The rest of the questions covered the topics of education while fleeing and after fleeing, the social situation of these children, and potential consequences of their background as refugees. It ended with asking about the most difficult challenges, as well as ideas of measures that can be taken to better the situation. The interviewees were given the chance to add any information at the end of the interview to round off. During the interview there were not any audio recordings; only notes were taken by a third person. The data was then coded into different topics, which now form the outline of the analysis of the study. The categories that came out from the interviews are as follows: information about an introductory class, school related issues, language, social issues, mental health, student-teacher relations, parents, information about the refugee camps and the flight, and finally advantages. Most of these topics are highly relevant for the case of this report, but the topics concerning information about introductory classes, refugee camps and the flight are not. Therefore, these were left out, although some of it was used for the background, while the other ones were kept for the analysis.

In this study, there are two interviewees, both working in the Norwegian school system. Interviewee 1 is a former teacher in an introductory class, now working in administration in an elementary school. Interviewee 2 is a teacher in a high school introductory class. Both have been working with refugee and minority children for


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Quality of Data To assess the quality of the conclusions drawn from this research, we rely on the terms validity, reliability, and generalizability. Validity refers to the logical connection between the questions asked, the method chosen, and the conclusions we reach (Tjora, 2017, p. 231). In simple terms, high validity means that we are measuring the right concepts to answer the questions we ask. Low validity can be a result of problems with research design. Reliability, on the other hand, refers to the more random errors that can occur during a research process (Ringdal, 2014, p. 355). Both validity and reliability affects the generalizability of the research presented. Generalizability refers to the relevance the presented results can have to a broader perspective (Tjora, 2017, p. 231). Do these results speak for other cases than the one investigated? In the following, these dimensions of quality will be addressed. Validity As previously mentioned, this method was chosen because it will give in-depth information about the refugee children’s situation. The interviewees in this study have been working very closely with these children, so they have a lot of experience and therefore information about this topic. During a regular workday, they observe a lot that happens in a classroom, so they will naturally observe the behavior and challenges of the refugee children. Also, their job is to help their students overcome their challenges, both academically and socially. Therefore, the method is well-suited in order to answer the research question, which focuses on the factors that make it difficult to integrate into a new school system. The research question does not explicitly name the Norwegian school system, so with that in mind it would have been beneficial to include teachers from other host countries. However, the choice not to include Norway in the research question relates to the fact that many refugee children have similar backgrounds, and many host countries are European, western countries. The choice of Norwegian schools or teachers as interviewees can also be described as pragmatic since this study is conducted in Norway. The methodology is clearly explained, and the research question is based on factual information about the situation of refugees in 2020 and the conclusions in the analysis are based on existing theory, which strengthens the validity of the study. To further strengthen it, I could have looked more closely at previous research in this field to see what other conclusions have been made. Reliability A point to discuss the reliability of this study is the choice of interviewees. Both the interviewees are teachers, and not actually refugees themselves. On some of the topics, the interviewees are discussing the perceptions of someone else, which could mean that it would not be totally precise. For instance, data concerning the refugee children’s mental health could be more reliable if it came from these children themselves, or from other professionals who are experts in that particular field. The decision to speak with teachers instead of the children themselves is based on the desire to view the situation from the school’s point of view, as well as protecting the children from a potentially uncomfortable situation that an interview about these sensitive subjects might be. Several schools with introductory classes were contacted and all the teachers that said yes were interviewed.


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Another factor that could influence the results is that questions could have been leading, but I have been conscious of this and tried to avoid it. Also, this research has been done by someone who is not a refugee and does not have any personal experience on this topic. It is important to consider personal stands and knowledge about the topic. Before doing this research, I did not know too much about refugee education in Norway. Consequently, the lack of a premade opinion on this topic could contribute to making the text less biased, and therefore more reliable. In addition, the fact that the interviews were not recorded could also have some significance for the reliability of the study, considering that some of the data could get misinterpreted when transformed to text or lost altogether. A recorder would also have allowed for more direct citation which is more efficient when it comes to bringing forward the interviewees voice and not the writer of the study’s voice. How the data was analyzed has been explained, and all the most relevant information to answer the research question is included in the analysis, which strengthens the reliability. Generalizability As previously mentioned, only two teachers were interviewed. Considering that different teachers could have various perceptions and perspectives on the topic, the data that has been collected does most likely not represent all teachers’ opinions. Therefore, one could argue that two interviewees is not enough to make sure that the data collected is actually representative of an average teacher. Also, as refugees are human beings, they all differ from one another. Consequently, everyone will have a different background and different skills. Some might have experienced very difficult traumas, while others have not experienced that much. Some will be very affected by their trauma, while others might not be that affected. Also, some refugees do not have a sufficient educational background, while others do. Therefore, each case will be different, so in some instances, it could be difficult to talk about this topic generally. However, this has been taken into consideration during the process of writing. To some degree, this could also be valid for refugees integrating into another school system than the Norwegian. No matter what country they come to, they partly have the same background, as mentioned earlier. Many will lack a proper educational background in European standards, experience low motivation, and suffer from traumas. These will still all be factors that could make it difficult to integrate to a school system. However, adapting to different school systems will require different skills. For instance, if the refugees come to a country where the population speaks the same language as the refugees themselves, it would most likely make the adaption a lot easier. Also, there could be other factors that could make one school system easier or harder to integrate into. For instance, a system that has more focus on practical learning could be easier than one who mostly focuses on the theoretical. Therefore, this could to some extent be valid for other school systems, but mostly for the ones that are similar to the Norwegian system.


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Analysis and Discussion

In this chapter I will present a discussion of the research question based on the data collected from the interviewees, as well as the theory and background presented earlier. First, I will look closer at four different factors that make refugee children’s integration into the Norwegian school system difficult, and then discuss the measures in place to better this process, as well as the children’s advantages. Factors of Difficulty Knowledge Gaps and Motivation The level of education that the refugee children have when they get to Norway varies a lot. Both interviewees say that it is not uncommon that they get students with barely any education at all. For instance, interviewee 1 mentions that they have had students who are 11 or 12 years old and have never gone to school, and interviewee 2 says that many lack common knowledge, such as that the earth is round. This could imply little education during the process of fleeing and in the refugee camps, but on the other side of the spectrum, there are refugee children with high levels of education. According to sociocultural learning theory, this could also imply that they have had education, but since the framework has not necessarily been stable, the education has not had the same outcome as it would have had in, for example, Norway (McLeod, 2020). However, both the teachers believe they rarely get sufficient education during their flight. This could make it difficult for refugee children to integrate into the new school system as they are at a different academic level than the other children in their age group.

Both the teachers believe they rarely get sufficient education during the flee. In addition to lack of knowledge, some of the children do not have much experience in being at school. Consequently, some need adjustment 56

to fit into the Norwegian school system. Interviewee 1 explains that some of the children need to learn what it means to be a student. The other interviewee illustrates that in the streets of Baghdad, it might be necessary to be the toughest and to yell the loudest. At school in Norway, where one has to sit quietly at their desk and do schoolwork, these types of skills are a disadvantage as they are not accepted. This could show that the personal characteristics that are valued in one place could be a disadvantage in another. There are also essential differences in motivation. Interviewee 1 points out that students from minority backgrounds are more varied in terms of participation and engagement in school compared to Norwegian children. There are many factors that can affect a student’s motivation. One factor is mental issues, which refugee children are more likely to suffer from because of traumas, as mentioned in the background. Mental issues affect the ability to pay attention, and will therefore influence the person’s motivation to continue trying as well (Salzer, 2012). Interviewee 2 also mentions language as a factor, as learning can be frustrating when you do not understand the language that well. In addition, the interviewee explains that many youths have had a responsibility towards their family from an early age, and that they already have been working. Thus, sitting on the school bench could feel pointless. On the other hand, there are some refugee students who really want to learn, and view education as a privilege. Because of their tough past, this is very important to some, as they view it as a way to help their families, according to interviewee 2. The interviewee also points out that cultural background could have a say in motivation. The teacher mentions that, for instance, Vietnamese students are serious about school, while other cultures do not value this as highly. For the students who have problems regarding motivation, integration in general could be more difficult, as school is an important part of Norwegian children’s everyday life. It could also slow down the process of learning the language, which I will now explain why is important.

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Language The teachers interviewed agree that learning the language is the most important factor when integrating somewhere new. Interviewee 2 states that learning the language and subjects at the same time could be difficult. For the students who do not speak the language yet, it is very hard for the teachers to fill in the gaps in their knowledge. This is in line with sociocultural theory, which explains that language is important for the transmission of information, and makes intellectual development possible (McLeod, 2020). Therefore, participating in an introductory class could be highly beneficial. Interviewee 1 explains that in the introductory classes the focus is on learning enough Norwegian to be able to follow a regular course. As interviewee 2 points out, students can be very good at math in their home country, they just need to learn to translate it to Norwegian. Despite the fact that a lot of refugee children lack education when they come to Norway, interviewee 2 states that most of them learn and catch up quickly. Learning often seems to be easier than anticipated, and as soon as the language settles, they usually catch up pretty well according to interviewee 2. Hence, the lack of language seems to be more problematic than the lack of sufficient education. Language also is of major significance for the social aspect. Learning the language is how refugee children can connect with other students in their class, a point underscored by interviewee 1. According to both the interviewees, students with the same mother tongue or of the same minority tend to make their own social groups. Interviewee 2 states that some think it is hard to get to know Norwegian students, and this is a natural way to think before they learn the language. In the beginning these groupings are definitely beneficial, but if they proceed existing, they could make the students’ integration more difficult. Consequently, it is very important for these children to learn the language, so they will get integrated well. Then, according to interviewee 2, social differences tend to disappear. When the children first start school in Norway, the school administration tries to find someone

with the same mother tongue, as told by interviewee 1. The teacher also underscores that it would have been very difficult for the children if no one understood them while they were learning Norwegian. The children who do not speak Norwegian also have the right to someone who speaks their language, such as an interpreter. This facilitates the process of learning the language, and then subjects. According to interviewee 1, there are not always interpreters available, which can lead to large language barriers, which is an obstacle in the refugee children’s integration. Another interesting aspect is that the difficulty of learning a new language varies for children of different ages. It is easier for younger children to learn Norwegian pronunciation, interviewee 1 explains. Also, interviewee 2 states that the low motivation, and therefore impatience, of some older refugee children make it harder to learn the language. This is a problematic challenge because the older the children, the more important language becomes, according to interviewee 1. Play is less relevant, so it is more important to be able to communicate verbally. In other words, age also affects the children’s integration into the school system. Mental Health Both the interviewees stress the fact that a lot of these refugee children are suffering from traumatic experiences. After being exposed to traumatic experiences, the brain will be affected, and its development could be skewed according to interviewee 2. Many suffer from flashbacks. Children could have different triggers that bring back their traumas, and you can normally find some of these triggers in a classroom. Interviewee 1 points out that for instance jam could resemble blood, or the noise of a breaking pencil could sound like a gunshot. Interviewee 2 underlines that while fleeing, you are always alert, and this requires a lot of energy. Even though the Norwegian school seems safe for most of these children, they will keep experiencing these feelings and as a consequence several will be mentally exhausted.


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Some children’s traumas could also have a significance for how responsive they are for learning. Interviewee 2 explains that fear can hinder the student’s ability to learn. Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory describes many relevant factors for the refugee children’s way of learning, both on the run and when in Norway. While being refugees, these children will most likely have an unsafe, and unstable environment around them, with a lot of stress and fear. Furthermore, because of living as refugees, the adults surrounding them could also be tired and scared, which could in turn make them more unstable. This can, according to Vygotsky’s theory, affect their mental functions and development. Also, it will also have an impact when the children get into the Norwegian school system, both because of their past experiences and some new obstacles, such as making it harder to focus in class. In addition, there are often different expectations for refugee children than for other Norwegian children, as pointed out by interviewee 2. They often have more responsibility for helping out their families. In their home country, a lot of these children had to work for money instead of going to school and several have to keep working in Norway to help their families. Interviewee 2 tells a story about a student in their high school who must send a fairly large amount of money to his/her country of origin every month. The interviewee describes the student as exhausted from having to work every day after school. Consequently, refugee children will have to mature faster than most Norwegian children have to. In conclusion, many have a heavy workload with both school and work, as well as having to learn a new language. Interviewee 2 points out that these children often have to work twice as hard to get just as far because of the language difficulties. A heavy workload could affect their mental health, as well as being highly time consuming, which again affects their social lives, and thus their integration. Relationships To help the refugee children adapt to the new system, establishing good relationships with 58

the children could be advantageous. The student-teacher relationship is different when the children are at different ages. Interviewee 1, who is working with children in elementary school, says that one usually ends up with a very close relationship with the students, because of their need for attention and closeness. Interviewee 2, on the other hand, works with teenagers in high school, and thinks it is hard to find a natural way to speak with refugee students about their background. Both interviewees describe a pattern in which students are more willing to talk about their issues at a younger age, and when getting older, they do not want to share as much. Interviewee 2 states that for the older children it is easier to forget than to talk about it. The teacher believes that it would be beneficial with more dialogue about this with the students. This could have a positive effect for their well-being and mental health, and consequently contribute to bettering their integration. It is important to help the children understand that the school is a safe place, but also that they need to respect the teacher. Interviewee 2 explains that many children quit school in the refugee camps due to violent teachers. In these countries, the teachers have a different type of authority than Norwegian teachers have, which could make the Norwegian school system a bit difficult to adapt to. Once the children understand the safety of the school system, according to interviewee 2, some students think that everything is allowed, because the boundaries are not that obvious. Consequently, the interviewee has to talk to the introductory class about respect. This was illustrated with an example. In a regular class, the students would understand that they have crossed a line for instance if the teacher wrinkles their nose. However, some of the refugee students might not understand this sign. Therefore, they have to show this more directly, perhaps by saying ‘this is not okay’. Both the teachers also expressed a wish for more contact with the parents. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know how to approach a refugee child and interviewee 1 explains that what information

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you get, depends on what the parents are willing to share, and this is often challenging because of traumas and challenges the children can have. If the parents would share more, it could make it easier for the teachers to understand and reach out to the children. Then they could also adapt the situations better especially for them. A Positive Outlook Measures To make it easier for immigrants to learn the language, the Norwegian government has implemented certain measures. The main measure is the introductory classes. Interviewee 2 also explains that they do not have to take the Norwegian second language, and they can choose their mother tongue as an elective course instead of another language. They also have the right to a slightly facilitated exam in Norwegian according to interviewee 2. As previously mentioned, interviewee 2 explained how they have the right to have a support person who speaks their mother tongue, who can help them understand what the teacher is saying. However, there are still few who have this. The most important measure will be to help the children learn the language well. As previously stated by the interviewees, when the language is learned, a lot of issues sort out themselves. Furthermore, it is important to improve integration and health, which the interviewees schools had implemented specific measures to solve. Interviewee 1 explains that the school works a lot with finding angles of approach and measures to help them in their everyday life. For instance, they have nurses and physiotherapists to talk about sleep, body, puberty, mental health and other health related issues. They have also established social groups, especially for girls, since they are more often than boys victims of negative social control, according to interviewee 2. There are also social groups for parents, including both Norwegian and minority parents. There they can talk about whatever they want, ask questions and get more acquainted with each other’s cultures. Both interviewees are proud of these offers

that help better the integration. However, interviewee 2 wishes for more social measures to help the students become more socially integrated. Advantages As a consequence of refugee children missing out on traditional education while fleeing, a natural conclusion to draw is that they do not have the same level of knowledge as the other children. An interesting aspect of this assumption is that it is directly related to what knowledge we value. In the Norwegian school system, academic knowledge is something that is highly valued, but that does not necessarily mean that having it is better than having other skills. Vyogotsky’s sociocultural learning theory explains that learning happens in dialogue between a child and a more knowledgeable person (McLeod, 2020). This could be interpreted in the sense that formal education is not necessarily required in order to develop knowledge. Refugee children will have some advantageous abilities and skills that most other Norwegian children do not have. Firstly, many of these children have a lot of practical knowledge. As mentioned earlier, refugee children often have more responsibilities in their families than Norwegian children, and this is not necessarily exclusively negative. They are described by interviewee 1 as good at helping and taking responsibility, and by interviewee 2 as survivors. They are characterized by their previous way of living, first from the culture in their home country, but also from living as refugees. After spending a lot of time with adults and having these responsibilities, many have what may be considered as adult knowledge. They often have more knowledge about the world and life that Norwegian students are lucky enough to not have, interviewee 1 states. Therefore, they are probably more mature than Norwegian children. Secondly, several have some academic advantages. For instance, interviewee 2 says that many know how to speak several languages, and they are as good as the teacher in math. In conclusion, this could be beneficial for these children while adapting to the new school system. 59

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As a result of being a refugee, a lot of the children will miss out on some education during their flee. Whether education is available in refugee camps, as well as the quality of it, varies a lot. According to both interviewees, some refugee children have a very thin educational background. Luckily, the interviewees explain that most of the refugee children catch up with other children academically. The younger they are, the easier it is. Therefore, these children’s lack of a sufficient educational background is not something that they consider to be a major issue. There were however other factors that made the integration difficult. Both interviewees agree that the most important factor is to learn the language well. The reason for this is that it will open doors, both academically and socially. This is considered to be a major factor for successful integration, and when the children master the language a lot of issues solve themselves. Furthermore, a lot of refugee children suffer from problems related to their mental health. These children often have a lot of responsibilities in the family or with working. They also could have traumas and have to work harder with school because of the language. All of these are elements that could contribute to worsening their mental health. Consequently, according to Vygotsky’s sociocultural learning theory, this will make it harder for the children to learn. On the other hand, many of these children also have some advantages compared to other Norwegian students. The interviewees described them as responsible and good at helping. This could be a benefit in the classroom, as they often are willing to take the tasks they are given seriously. They were also described as survivors. They have experiences and knowledge about the world that most children their age do not have, and in some ways this could be advantageous. Moreover, a lot of refugee children have some academic advantages, such as speaking several languages and being ahead of the Norwegian school system in some subjects, for instance in mathematics. This could be highly beneficial while adapting to a new school system.


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To help these students adapt to the new school system, there are a lot of measures that are in place, but also that could be made. As learning the language is considered the most important, a lot of the measures concern this. The Norwegian government has taken some steps to make it easier for the refugees to learn the language, such as the introductory classes. Additionally, the schools are taking measures to help integration and health, such as having health professionals come to class, and creating groups for helping to socialize. Both the interviewees agree that it could be an advantage to talk with the students about what they have been through to better the student-teacher relationships, as well as the parent-teacher relationships. Then it could make it easier for them to customize both their care and education to the children’s own needs. However, this is more difficult the older the children get. In conclusion, there are a lot of challenges associated with integrating refugee children into the Norwegian school system, but with the right measures, this may not be too big of a problem. Widening our perspective on what knowledge is valuable might also benefit refugee children, as they do have important knowledge, it is just different than what many in the Norwegian school system are used to. It would have been interesting to explore the consequences of the refugee crisis in regard to the creation of knowledge even further, even though the extent of this study did not allow it. The fact that there are fewer refugee children in higher education means that they do not affect the knowledge created in these institutions, which could imply that we are missing out on important perspectives (UNHCR, n.d.c). Making it possible for refugee children to apply for higher education is in other words extremely important, and this study shows that it is possible to better their situation even further.


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Political Leaders in Poland and Hungary’s Framing of Knowledge In what ways do political leaders in Poland and Hungary use framing of knowledge as a means to affect the population’s values and attitudes about the LGBT+ movement?


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LGBT+ rights are decreasing in Poland and Hungary due to the current governments’ legislative and judicial changes. This case aims to investigate what role rhetorics play in this decrease - namely, by attempting to identify in what ways the political leaders use framing of knowledge as a means to affect the population’s values and attitudes about the LGBT+ movement, and in this way strengthen their political agenda while simultaneously creating their own version of knowledge. In order to explore this topic, speeches, statements and constitutions from both countries were analyzed. The results showed that political leaders in Poland and Hungary provide and repeat their own definitions of what is morally right, what is “normal” and what is the “true” Polish or Hungarian identity – none of which include being part of the LGBT+ community. These results suggest that Polish and Hungarian politicians seek to mobilize specific parts of the society by creating their own knowledge, and constructing a picture of members of the LGBT+ community as so different from the rest of the Polish and Hungarian society that they can not be included in the group of people that the laws are supposed to protect. The emphasis on values, morals, and the traditional family creates a rhetorical framework that goes beyond political and technical terms, and rather provides personal or individual reasons to obtain a negative view on the LGBT+ community based on intimate feelings of identity and morality. 63

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In recent years, there has been a trend of democratic backsliding in both Poland and Hungary. Judicial changes have given the government increased control over judges and the media, thus contributing to a state-led elimination of institutions necessary for an open democracy (Wójcik & Wiatrowski, 2020; Freedom House, 2020; Bemeo, 2016). The rights of the LGBT+ community has seen a similar development, contrary to the general development in other democratic countries (Kent & Poushter, 2020). In the 2020 Polish presidential election, LGBT+ rights became the single biggest cultural issue during campaigning, taking the place of debates regarding immigration and the rise of xenophobia in the 2015 election (Easton, 2019; Żuk & Żuk, 2020, p. 1). In Hungary the situation is somewhat different, but one distinctive similarity is how the discourse of the political leaders is negative towards the LGBT+ community. The COVID-19 pandemic has also been used as a shield to implement controversial political changes in both countries, presenting them as necessary for protection of “traditional family values’’ (Goździak & Márton, 2018, p. 127). These legislative changes include laws affecting homosexuality and abortion in Poland, and transsexuality in Hungary (Kováts & Zacharenko, 2020, ILGA Europa, 2020, p. 86-87). According to the LGBT+ rights group ILGA-Europe, which annually examines legal and policy practices for LGBT+ people in 49 countries resulting in a score for each country, this has led to Hungary becoming the European country with the most dramatic drop in its score during 2019, and Poland to become the EU country with the lowest score (ILGA Europe, 2020). The rhetoric of the governing parties in Poland and Hungary is a much researched topic. Multiple articles talk about “The Self”, or “The People”, vs “The Other”, and how the people of power in Poland and Hungary use these rhetorical tactics towards their inhabitants as a means to gain power (Goździak & Márton, 2018, p. 127; Kerpel, 2017, p. 69). According to Goździak and Márton (2018, p. 128), the public discourses in both countries


have circled around to what being a “true Hungarian (igaz(i) magyar) or a “true Pole” (prawdziwy Polak) means. This “us versus them” discourse turns minorities such as immigrants, the Roma, and sexual minorities into enemies, which results in discrimination and resentment towards these groups (Lugosi, 2020, p. 212). In this discourse, leaders of PiS and Fidesz portray themselves as the only ones that can talk on behalf of “The People” (Kerpel, 2017, p. 68). Their discourse is often identified as institutionalist and nationalist (Kim, 2020, p. 1-16; Kerpel, 2017, p. 68). Erin Jenne (2018, p. 549) proposes the term “ethnopopulism” as a system in which populism and nationalism is co-articulated, where narratives about threats come from both beyond, for example as immigrants and ethnic minorities, and from higher up “in the system”, such as the European Union or foreign elites. She argues that “global elites or foreign powers” are used to create paranoia about minorities and dehumanize out-groups (Jenne, 2018, p. 549). Milada Vachudova (2020, p. 320) argues that politicians promising to defend “The People” against an established elite is a common political tool in populism. What varies is how they define “The People”, and that ethnopopulists fabricate external enemies, conspiring with internal enemies (Vachudova, 2020, p. 320). Kerpel (2017, p. 68) follows this up by arguing that neither PiS nor Fidesz are explicit in who belongs to the ”the pure people”, but rather create a “fictitious group” through their political narratives and ideologies. This study will examine in what ways political leaders in Poland and Hungary use framing of knowledge as a means to affect the population’s values and attitudes towards homosexuality, with basis in the research question: In what ways do political leaders in Poland and Hungary use framing of knowledge as a means to affect the population’s values and attitudes about the LGBT+ movement? In order to research this question, I will analyze speeches and statements from the media made by political leaders in Poland and Hungary, in addition to passages from the Polish and Hungarian constitutions. I will also look at PiS and Fidesz party programs, which are respectively the Polish and Hungarian ruling parties,

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both of which can be characterized as right wing-populist parties (Jenne, 2018, p. 547). In the first chapter I will outline key historical moments and events in the development of democracy and LGBT+ rights in Poland and Hungary, as well as an introduction to the theory of framing. The methodology used to analyze this question will then be presented and discussed, before the analysis is presented and concluded.

Background and Theory

In this chapter the democratic development in Poland and Hungary, as well as the LGBT+ community’s current situation in these countries, will be described. The theory of framing will be explained after this as it is used to support arguments in the analysis. Recent Democratic Developments As the subject of analysis is political leaders, and democracy and minority rights have a tendency to correlate, it is important to have an overview of the democratic status in Poland and Hungary. Democracy is a system that provides the citizens with the opportunity and right to exercise in free elections, and where the representatives in power represent the people (Trantidis, 2016, p. 69). Social and political trust is very important in a democracy in order for the institutions to function (Newton, 2001, p. 201). As previously mentioned, the notion of democracy in both Poland and Hungary is getting weaker, and some call it cases of “democratic backsliding”. “Democratic backsliding” refers to a democratic regression changing a democracy towards a hybrid regime, and potentially into full authoritarianism (Cianetti et al, 2018, p. 245). Every year, Freedom House (2020) publishes a report in which the level of democratic governance of specific countries is measured, where a democracy score and percentage is presented for each country. These scores take into account ratings on governance, the electoral process, the media’s independence, civil society, the framework of the judicial system, as well as corruption. In 2015, Poland received a democracy percentage

of 80 percent (Arak & Żakowiecki, 2015). This has annually decreased, and was in 2020 measured to be 65 percent (Wójcik & Wiatrowski, 2020). In Hungary, the democracy percentage in 2015 was 64 percent (Kovács, 2015), and 49 percent in 2020 (Freedom House, 2020). In both countries, the current controlling parties have worsened the already declining democratic situations since they were elected; Fidesz since 2010 in Hungary, and PiS since 2015 in Poland (Karolewski & Sata, 2020, p. 209). The European parliament triggered Article 7 in Poland in 2017, and in Hungary in 2018, which means they viewed the countries at risk for breaking the European Union’s core values (De la Baume, 2020; Politico, 2018). In Poland, it was because of concerns about losing judicial independence, and in Hungary because of concerns of academic freedom and freedom of expression, as well as the rights of “out-groups”, minorities and refugees (Politico, 2018). Democracy has traditionally had a stronger role in Poland than in Hungary (Karolewski & Sata, 2020, p. 220). The political system in Poland does not provide the government with constitutional power to make wide and deep institutional changes, contrary to the situation in Hungary (Karolewski & Sata, 2020, p. 211). As a result, opposition parties in Poland have a greater chance of being heard (Karolewski & Sata, 2020, p. 211). In Hungary, on the other hand, the constitutional powers given to the government have led to an eradication of the system of checks and balances, shifting the decision-making power from the parliament into the hands of Fidesz loyal individuals (Kerpel, 2017, p. 71). In other words, Hungary can be viewed as an oligarchy, where the power is in the hands of a privileged elite. The low requirements to form a party in Hungary make it difficult to create a large party, and Orbán is deliberately changing laws to make it more difficult for opposition parties to gain power (Hopkins, 2020). Ultimately, Hungary is attempting to build a “Hungarian Mafia State” utilizing ideologies, whereas Poland is attempting to build a “Conservative Semi-Autocracy” driven by ideology (Kerpel, 2017, p. 71). Despite the systemic dissimilarities, the ruling parties in both countries have changed 65

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laws, dismantled institutions and adopted policies that benefit themselves and their supporters (Vachudova, 2020, p. 318; Karolewski & Sata, 2020, p. 210-211, 214). In both countries, media outlets and the legislative branch are and have been changed to work in favour of the governments (Karolewski & Sata, 2020, p. 213). This has resulted in a current investigation by the EU on both countries, as mentioned above, for undermining the independence of courts, media and non-governmental organizations (Lee, 2020).

In Hungary, on the other hand, the constitutional powers given to the government have led to an eradication of the system of checks and balances, shifting the decision-making power from the parliament into the hands of Fidesz loyal individuals. The Situation for LGBT+ Among the numerous legislative changes the Fidesz and PiS government have passed through, many have affected LGBT+ rights. Both countries are largely Christian and conservative (Grzymala-Busse, 2017), and both countries are part of a trend of more frequent hate speech against the LGBT+ community by public figures in multiple European countries (ILGA Europe, 2020). There are multiple ways of describing this community, but this study uses the term LGBT+, because it covers every identification, as it is an abbriviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and others. It was not until the 1990s that non-heteronormative sexuality, women’s rights, and gender equality became part of the public debate in Poland, following the transformation from communism to liberalism and capitalism (Buyantueva & Shevtsova, p. 270). As of the EU accession in 2004,


non-discrimination rules towards sexual minorities have been mandatory, resulting in increasing focus on equality, social diversity, democratic rights and human rights (Buyantueva & Shevtsova, p. 271-275). Social, political and economic changes have normalized public discussions on these topics to a larger extent, along with minority rights (Buyantueva & Shevtsova, 2020, p. 272). However, discrimination still occurrs, both on an individual and collective level, and the previous prime minister and mayor of Warsaw, Lech Kaczynski, banned gay rights marches in Warsaw in 2004 and 2005 (ILGA Europe, 2020, p. 86-87; De Witte, 2019, p. 476; Renkin, 2009, p. 21). With the shift to the right-wing PiS party in 2015, this development continued, with LGBT+ community members being undermined (Buyantueva & Shevtsova, 2020, p. 271). Recently, more than 80 municipial or local governments porclaimed themselves to be “LGBT+ free zones”, after heavy anti-LGBT+ rhetoric by the government, and although same-sex sexual activity is legal, Polish law forbids same-sex marriage and registred partnership (ILGA Europe, 2020, p. 86-87; De Witte, 2019, p. 476). Poland also lacks regulations against discrimination and pro-equality regulations regarding sexual orientation and gender identity (Buyantueva & Shevtsova, 2020, p. 271). The homonegativity in Poland is driven by the strong presence of religion in the political sphere, strong traditional beliefs and family values, as well as the right-wing national politics (De Witte, 2019, p. 476). From the beginning of the LGBT+ movement, visibility was a goal; LGBT+ activists aimed to distance themselves from the collective narratives in society, create visible identities, and interrupt the taboo concerning LGBT+ issues with a presence in the media and reclaiming space in the streets (Buyantueva & Shevtsova, 2020, p. 273). Poland recently criminalized “the promotion of underage sexual activity”, which by some is seen as a ban on sexual education, and instead introduced a curriculum surrounding traditional family values to “prepare for family life” (Gawlowski & Goclowski, 2019). These changes amplify the view of homosexuality as a social stigma and as a threat against the moral values

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of the country, which only include heterosexual relationships (Isaacs, 2017, p. 230). In Hungary, a government decree on legal gender recognition from 2018 has systematically been removed since it was introduced. The latest development was changing the definition of “sex” to “sex at birth” in the civil registry, making it almost impossible to change one’s legal sex, an amendment said to “protect children’s right to the gender identity they were born with” (ILGA Europe, 2020, p. 57; Hopkins, 2020; Kováts & Zacharenko, 2020). In 2019, the Pest County Consumer Protection Department issued a statement saying Coca Cola was “harming the physical, mental, emotional and moral development of children and minors” after including same-sex couples in a campaign (ILGA Europe, 2020, p. 57; Kaszás, 2019). According to the Eurobarometer, social acceptance of LGBT+ people has decreased in Hungary since 2015; one of few countries (ILGA Europe, 2020, p. 57). Same-sex partnerships are allowed in Hungary, however, same-sex marriage is still illegal (De Witte, 2019, p. 476). There, as in Poland, public attitudes on the issue are largely driven by religious views, and the school curriculum does not prioritize sexual diversity as a topic, however, it is not banned (De Witte, 2019, p. 476). These views are also based on the government’s emphasis on families as a means of reproduction (Béres-Deák, 2020, p. 55).

The latest development was changing the definition of “sex” to “sex at birth” in the civil registry, making it almost impossible to change one’s legal sex, an amendment said to “protect children’s right to the gender identity they were born with”.

Framing Framing is the act of constructing frames, and it is important to distinguish between the frame and the issue being framed (van Hulst & Yanow, 2014, p. 93; Lugosi, 2020, p. 217). The term framing refers to how a message can be perceived differently based on the way it is presented; how the opinions about a particular issue can be altered by what is highlighted and what is ignored (Iyengar, 2015, p. 267-268). One can imagine that it works by similar rules as a frame of a picture, which can also emphasize or de-emphasize particular parts of a photograph based on whether it includes the whole photograph or not, which section is included inside the frame, what color the frame is, the filter applied over the photography, or if all colors are similar except for one that stands out. Two distinct types of framing effects have been identified by media researchers; “equivalency framing effects” and “emphasis framing effects” (Iyengar, 2015, p. 267-268). The two effects cover, respectively, using two logically equivalent terms for the same issue, or putting emphasis on specific parts of what could be relevant considerations (Iyengar, 2015, p. 267-268). Referring to abortion as murder is an example of an equivalence framing effect, whereas including only information about the positive or negative sides of abortion instead of a nuanced presentation is an example of an emphasis framing effect. The concept is often used by political leaders, by the media, in campaigns or social movements, and can include the use of symbols, metaphors, narratives, or emotionally and culturally charged words (Druckan, 2001, p. 226). What these have in common is that small changes in the presentation of information can result in large changes of opinion (Chong & Druckman, 2007, p. 104). Nelson and Oxley (1999, p. 1041) distinguish between priming, agenda setting, and framing; more specifically, issue framing. They argue that priming and agenda setting can influence beliefs about the qualities and characteristics of information, and thus affect opinions, whereas issue frames additionally have the power to “affect 67

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the importance individuals attach to particular beliefs” (Nelson & Oxley, 1999, p. 1040-1041). Priming is about highlighting specific aspects of a topic and neglecting others, which causes the primed knowledge to be closest in memory, and therefore more likely to affect opinions than unprimed, inaccessible knowledge (Nelson & Oxley, 1999, p. 1042). Issue frames, on the other hand, Nelson and Oxley argue, can affect opinions not by “belief change”, but by “belief importance”; by targeting the importance inhabitants assign to different beliefs (Nelson & Oxley, 1999, p. 1043). This makes frames an even more powerful tool for communicators seeking to define or construct a “correct” view of an issue, defining what an issue has to do with and what it has not (Nelson & Oxley, 1999, p. 1059).


In this chapter I will present which methodological choices I have made and argue why they are useful to answering the research question. I will also reflect upon the quality of the research. Research Design Document Analysis To be able to say something about how politicians frame their messages to influence the population, it is necessary to have access to their statements regarding the specific themes in question. Document analysis provides the needed access, both when it comes to how messages are framed and to information regarding LGBT+ rights. Document analysis is a method consisting of reviewing and interpreting already existing documents that have not been collected explicitly for research purposes (Bowen, 2009, p. 27). In this case only written documents will be used. This method was chosen because of the large amount of media texts on the recent events regarding LGBT+ rights. I will analyze different quotes and speeches from these documents to find out how the rhetoric of the political leaders, specifically framing, is used to affect the population’s values, but also how political leaders can end up creating their own knowledge as an


essential part of keeping control. Data Collection and Analysis The media texts used to find quotes are from news sites, both national (Polish and Hungarian) and international, and party programs and constitutions, in an attempt to obtain nuances in the differences of media coverage. The chosen texts are in English, due to limited Polish and Hungarian language expertise, and this has affected the selection process which will be discussed later. Before collecting the data, I decided which political leaders I wanted to look into for quotes. The choice was made based on an aim to include politicians with similar positions and thus approximately the same amount of influence in both countries, taking into account that the roles vary in the countries. Among Polish politicians I will analyze statements from the president Andrzej Duda (PiS); the leader of PiS, Jarosław Kaczyński; the Minister of Education and Science, Przemysław Czarnek (PiS); and the Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2015 and 2018, Witold Waszczykowski (PiS). The Hungarian politicians whose statements I will analyze are the prime minister and leader of Fidesz, Viktor Órban, and the Speaker of the Parliament, László Kövér (Fidesz). I have chosen fewer Hungarian politicians than Polish because the power is much more centralized in Hungary, and therefore Órban can be argued to have more power than Duda. Because president Duda has a smaller role in the public realm than prime minister Órban, the PiS leader in Poland, Jarosław Kaczyński, is a highly prominent figure in the Polish political landscape. A trait the chosen politicians have in common is that they are not religious leaders, as this would affect their views too obviously. Regardless, the majority of the mentioned politicians do not hide their religious beliefs. While collecting data, I looked through the aforementioned places to find quotes on the LGBT+ topic. I specifically looked for terms such as value, family, gender ideology, Christian faith, and describing situations as “normal”, as these words often indicate a narrative in the LGBT+

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topic. Already while doing this, the data went through a selection process, and one could therefore argue that the dataset I ended up with is only representative for the situations where framing is apparent, and that there could exist examples of these political leaders talking about the LGBT+ topic in a non-framing way. However, in the analysis, I will discuss why the underlying opinions in the governments will always shape their messages about the LGBT+ community, and why no knowledge can be neutral. In order to analyze the data, I formulated questions I wanted to find answers to: What words are used to describe the LGBT+ community and related topics? Are perspectives deliberately left out? Which narratives are being created? I identified six main categories, which form the outline of the analysis, to describe the framing methods that are used in order to create a narrative and strengthen their own message.


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Quality of Data To assess the quality of the conclusions drawn from this research, we rely on the terms validity, reliability, and generalizability. Validity refers to the logical connection between the questions asked, the method chosen, and the conclusions we reach (Tjora, 2017, p. 231). In simple terms, high validity means that we are measuring the right concepts to answer the questions we ask. Low validity can be a result of problems with research design. Reliability, on the other hand, refers to the more random errors that can occur during a research process (Ringdal, 2014, p. 355). Both validity and reliability affects the generalizability of the research presented. Generalizability refers to the relevance the presented results can have to a broader perspective (Tjora, 2017, p. 231). Do these results speak for other cases than the one investigated? In the following, these dimensions of quality will be addressed. Validity With the research question for this article being: In what ways do political leaders in Poland and Hungary use framing of knowledge as a means to affect the population’s values and attitudes about homosexuality?, the methodological choice of document analysis is suitable, as previously argued. The study also addresses judicial and media changes, which are not part of the research question at first glance, but increases the validity of the research as it is part of the system of getting the governments’ messages through to their inhabitants. The research question focuses on homosexuality, however the dataset is not as specific, and covers a broader range of subject within the topic of norms and values. This contributes to a decrease in specific validity, however strengthens the general validity on the topic of how political leaders are using the whole spectrum of political means in order to change the LGBT+ rights. The study is also widely based on previous research done on the topic which is introduced mainly in the introduction, and this also increases the study’s validity. Reliability The article’s reliability is weakened due to the language barrier, as framing is to a large extent language based. One could say that the data being analyzed in order to find evidence of framing by the political leaders, could itself have been subject to framing from the media outlets presenting the quotes. However, placing a media outlet on the right-left spectrum is often easier even for a non-speaker of the original language, than understanding how translation has been used in the framing process. The quality of conclusions are therefore heavily affected by the language barrier. As everything I have read in relation to this article has been translated, everything could be influenced by the translator’s political view. Additionally, the translation could have led to moderation, the language losing nuances, or a change in the meaning if there are words or phrases that exist in one language and not the other. The translation makes rhetoric difficult to analyze. I have therefore tried to focus more on the content, and included media articles from both national and international media outlets. This could help balance out the potential framing the translation has been subject to during the process. On the national websites, the translators have a broad knowledge of the language. One could therefore argue that they have a more advanced ability to translate the texts into English with the originally intended nuances or sayings, and thus, a broader reach in shaping the translation to portray their own political opinions. It is also important to remember that the majority of the Polish and Hungarian news broadcasters are state owned, financed by state-owned companies or have close ties to the ruling government (Żuk & Żuk , 2020, p. 1-2). The international news websites might be 70

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heavily affected by the “common opinion” on the topic in the given country, city, social group, or media house. The presidential websites, party programs and constitutions are translated by authors with the same view as the speaker, and could therefore be seen as the ones with the least chance of external framing through translation. Lack of contextual knowledge is also an obstacle in obtaining data, as I could miss out on metaphors, sayings, or underlying messages. Before starting the process of writing this case, my knowledge on the topic itself in these two countries was also limited to mostly headlines in international newspapers. This, together with my view on the LGBT+ rights as something that should be granted on the same basis as other human rights, have affected the search for information. However, I have of course worked hard on keeping a neutral, objective view by only including objective truths in the introduction, background, methodology and theory. In the analysis, my personal opinions will show more through, as it has been the aim to research ways in which framing is actually used by the politicians to steer the inhabitants’ view on LGBT+ into a more negative path. Four people have been working relatively closely on this article, which helps present multiple perspectives. However, the reliability is weakened by the fact that we are all from Norway, don’t know Polish or Hungarian, and are all students and females. Generalizability The dataset is limited to quotes from certain politicians, which means it cannot account for Polish and Hungarian politicians in general. However, the topics that are mentioned most frequently and by multiple politicians and party programs and the constitution, could be argued to be representative of parties and in some cases the laws, not just the politicians themselves, shown for example with the emphasis on traditional family values. One could also discuss if the study is applicable to other countries with the same democratic development as Poland and Hungary, but this is less likely as there are many other factors affecting the rhetoric, such as religion, political standpoints, and political systems.


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Analysis and Discussion

I will now go through the six main recurring themes I have found used for framing, using the politicians’ quotes as empirical basis, and discuss how these methods together constitute a framing that can heavily influence the inhabitants. Negative Comparisons The first method is comparing the LGBT+ community to other groups of people, which can be seen as a version of an equivalency framing effect (Iyengar, 2015, p. 267-268). In Poland, the LGBT+ community is repeatedly referred to as an ideology, and compared to historical ideologies with negative connotations. For example, president Andrzej Duda said: “My parents’ generation for forty years fought to eliminate communist ideology from schools, so it couldn’t be forced on children. So youth, children, soldiers and youth organizations couldn’t be indoctrinated,” (Duda, 2020, as cited in Plucinska & Ptak, 2020). This was followed by: “They did not fight so that we would now accept that another ideology, even more destructive to man, would come along, an ideology which under the clichés of respect and tolerance hides deep intolerance” (Duda, 2020, as cited in BBC, 2020). Przemysław Czarnek, the new Minister of Education, has compared homosexuality to the Nazis: “There is no doubt that this entire LGBT ideology, which grew out of neo-Marxism, comes from the same root as German National Socialism, which is responsible for all the evils of World War II, the destruction of Warsaw and the murder of those who fought for our freedom in the Warsaw uprising. It’s of the same origin.” (Czarnek, 2020, as cited in Śmigiel, 2020). In these statements, Duda and Czarnek make comparisons on an even more systemic and structural level, not only on an individual level about the members of the LGBT+ community. They compare it with “communist ideology” and as something rooted in “German National


Socialism’’ respectively. By doing so, the LGBT+ community could end up being associated with a lot of gruesome historical moments and happenings that have nothing to do with the LGBT+ community, neither historically nor at present, such as the indoctrination mentioned by Duda, and the historical events mentioned by Czarnek. Duda calling the “ideology” “destructive to man”, respect and tolerance “clichés” and the LGBT+ community intolerant, could be seen as an example of an emphasis framing effect because he clearly leaves out every other perspectives than his own (Iyengar, 2015, p. 267-268).

The LGBT+ community could end up being associated with a lot of gruesome historical moments and happenings that have nothing to do with the LGBT+ community, neither historically nor at present. In Hungary, there is specifically one example of this type of rhetoric that has received a lot of media attention. This is when the Hungarian House Speaker László Kövér stated that: “There is no difference morally in the behaviour of a paedophile and gays who want to adopt. In both of these cases, the child is an object, an item of luxury, the tool used for self-realisation and fulfilment.” (Kövér, 2019, as cited in Erdő-Bonyár, 2019). Prime Minister Viktor Órban hinted in a similar direction when he commented a children’s book which included minorities, both sexual and others, and said: “Hungary is tolerant and patient regarding homosexuality. But there is a red line that shouldn’t be crossed, and that is how I would like to sum up my opinion: leave our children alone.” (Orbán, 2020, as cited in MTI-Hungary Today, 2020). Both statements portray an unwillingness to see homosexuality as only a sexual orientation, but rather as a characteristic defining a person’s

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whole identity. Kövér brings in the term moral, which has a large role in the rhetoric of the analyzed politicians, and creates an impression that a gay person would adopt a child as an accessory, thus refusing to let the members of the LGBT+ community be part of the focus on families with children as an important part of the foundation and continuation of the country that he and other party members heavily emphasize. Órban on the other hand, implies that this gay identity necessarily includes having a sexual interest in children. Whether it’s to pedophilia or historical ideologies - comparing homosexuality with other negativiely associated concepts frequently enough can eventually create a new “knowledge”, one in which being part of the LGBT+ community automatically decides your political beliefs and other values. This is particularly dramatic among groups of people that do not have any familiarity with the LGBT+ community themselves, and have a higher chance of adopting these comparisons. “Us” vs. “Them” Portraying a version of “us” very far from “them” in terms of common interests also seems to be a popular method, which as previously noted is a popular tool in populism. This method could also be seen as an example of an emphasis framing effect, while simultaneously as issue framing, because it targets the importance habitants assign to different beliefs (Iyengar, 2015, p. 267-268; Nelson & Oxley, 1999, p. 1043, 1059). In Poland, Przemysław Czarnek left little between the lines regarding what he thinks about the LGBT+ community, saying the Polish society should: “(...) defend [themselves] against the LGBT ideology and stop listening to these moronic statements about human rights and all that equality nonsense. These people are inferior to normal people, and let’s finally end this discussion.” (Czarnek, 2020, as cited in Śmigiel, 2020). This statement could be dangerous on many levels, as Czarnek very clearly divides humans into superior and inferior groups of society, announces that the “inferior” LGBT+ community should be

neglected and implying that non-heterosexuals are worth less. He is on the verge of classifying members of the LGBT+ community as disabled, which is alarmingly similar to how WHO defined

This statement could be dangerous on many levels, as Czarnek very clearly divides humans into superior and inferior groups of society, announces that the “inferior” LGBT+ community should be neglected and implying that non-heterosexuals are worthless. homosexuality until 1990, namely as a mental disorder (World Health Organization, 2017). On May 18th, the day after the yearly International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Órban answered this when asked which message he wanted to send to homophobes and what actions the government would take to “ensure that in Hungary non-heterosexual couples can hold hands in public without fear?” (Orbán, 2015, as cited in Balogh, 2015; World Health Organization, 2017): “Hungary is a serious country. It is fundamentally based on traditional values. Hungary is a tolerant nation. Tolerance, however, does not mean that we would apply the same rules for people whose lifestyle is different from our own. We differentiate between them and us. Tolerance means patience, tolerance means an ability to coexist, this is the basis of the Hungarian Constitution which clearly differentiates between a marital relationship between a man and a woman and other, different forms of cohabitation.” (Orbán, 2015 as cited in Balogh, 2015).


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Órban does not hide the fact that he differentiates between “them” and “us”, and leaves no uncertainty as to who he considers to be within the circle of people he relates to. Even without mentioning the LGBT+ communities or individuals specifically, me makes it clear what he means. He continued saying: “(...) I am grateful to the Hungarian homosexual community for not exhibiting provocative behavior (...). I believe that in Hungary, even though the constitution clearly differentiates between marriage and other forms of cohabitation, the people with lifestyles different from our own outlook on life are safe, they are given the respect of basic human dignity that they deserve. (...). This is good, this is how we can live together. If we (…) make more stringent regulations or the community of homosexuals starts being more provocative, I think that the current peaceful, calm equilibrium will be no more. No one would benefit from this. Everyone benefits from being able to coexist. I believe that as we now are, we can live together.” (Orbán, 2015 as cited in Balogh, 2015). Here, again, he emphasizes the heterosexual relationship as the correct one, while simultaneously portraying the situation as peaceful. However, the recent law changes and the statements from the political leaders would argue differently. The legislative changes made, also explicitly go against his statement that they would not make “stringent regulations” (Orbán, 2015 as cited in Balogh, 2015). By this method, a distance is formed between members of the LGBT+ community and those outside, a relationship something closer to enemies, rather than fellow human beings. A consequence of this rhetoric is removing the chances of being able to relate to people that are different than yourself - and even more problematic; people that might not be as different from yourself than you think.

Emphasizing Values As mentioned in the introduction, both Polish and Hungarian political leaders frequently mention “traditional family values” as one of the most important aspects of their country (Lugosi, 2020). It is one of the most used bases of argumentation by these leaders in the explanation of what it means to be a Polish or Hungarian, and why that preferably means that you are in a heterosexual relationship. This repeated emphasis on one set of “correct” values can be seen as both a version of emphasis framing effect, as it is visibly one-sided, and as priming, because it highlights specific aspects of a topic and neglects others (Iyengar, 2015, p. 267-268; Nelson & Oxley, 1999, p. 1043, 1059). Article 18 in the Polish constitution (1997) says that: “marriage, being a union of a man and a woman, as well as the family, motherhood and parenthood, shall be placed under the protection and care of the Republic of Poland.” This is the basis for the PiS Party Program (2014) which states: “The concept of community refers to various social groups, but the most important of them are the family and the nation. We [PiS] consider the family, the foundation of which is the enduring union of a man and a woman, to be the fundamental structure of social life (...). In a family children are born, and thus is realized the fundamental condition for the perpetuation of humanity—the continuity of generations. It is precisely within the family that children are educated and prepared for participation in adult life. The family cannot be replaced—regardless of whether we look at it from the religious or secular perspective. Even in an entirely post-religious sense, it is the foundation of our civilization in its monogamous and enduring form.” From Jarosław Kaczyński’s point of view, the constitution therefore does not cover all families when he announces that “we invest and shall invest in the family.” (Kaczyński, 2019, as cited in Żuk & Żuk, 2020, p. 1-2). In the proposed constitutional referendum ques-


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tions from 2018, question 11 from the government read: ”Are you for the strengthening of the position of the family, including the protection of fatherhood rights alongside motherhood rights, in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland?” (The official website of the President of the Republic of Poland, 2018). About the referendum, Duda announced that: “I would like to see (...) the state (...) become increasingly stronger, for the authorities to support families. I would like there to be more pro-family programmes (...) This is why I decided to carry through a consultative referendum on the constitution.” (Duda, 2018a). The former PiS Foreign Minister, Witold Waszczykowski, followed suit, claiming to know “what the majority of Poles represent – tradition, historical consciousness, patriotism, belief in God and a normal family between a man and a woman” (Waszczykowski, 2016, as cited in Bild, 2016). All of these statements portray an unwillingness to see the variety within the Polish population, and disregarding family as a broader term than a man and woman with potential children. Similarly to Article 18 in the Polish constitution, Article L in the Hungarian constitution (2011, p. 6), within the section Foundation, states that: “Hungary shall protect the instaitution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman established by voluntary decision, and the family as the basis of the nation’s survival.” and “Hungary shall encourage the commitment to have children.” This is the basis for most of Fidesz’ politicians’ statements about homosexuality and family policies, as the constitution highlights the heterosexual relationship and gives a major importance to the family and children, and this does not include members of the LGBT+ community. This statement in the constitution tells what the Hungarian political leaders want their inhabitants to be like, while László Kövér has given information as to how a normal homosexual should be: “a normal homosexual knows the order of life, that this is how she/he was born and this is what she/he became. A normal homosexual tries to adapt to society and does not consider herself/himself equal.” (Kövér, 2019, as cited in Erdő-Bonyár, 2019) Kövér claiming to know what

a “normal homosexual” is, and even just insinuating that it is abnormal to want to consider yourself equal, is very degrading for those whose sexual orientation differ from the one portrayed as the true one by the government. The government’s opinions on the LGBT+ community doesn’t limit itself to the homosexuals, they have also made a new law changing the registered meaning of “sex”, gender, to “sex at birth”, with the government announcing that: “The sex entered into the civil registry is based on facts determined by doctors, declared by the registry. (...). However, the sex declared by the registry could create rights or obligations, and therefore it is necessary to define the term of birth sex. Given that completely changing one’s biological sex is impossible, it is necessary to lay it down in law that it cannot be changed in the civil registry either.” (Botha, 2020) As a result, the government has made their own definition of sex legally binding, leaving no room for individual experiences as to what oneself feels like. This law change is immense, making legal gender recognition when changing sex in Hungary impossible. With the Polish and Hungarian governments only representing one type of family, a man and a woman ultimately together to create children, many of the countries’ inhabitants are neglected and are not able to benefit from the dedicated children’s programs, as they are not allowed to adopt. These values are also portrayed and emphasized through statements. When this one set of values, portrayed as the true Polish and Hungarian, is repeated enough times, this primed knowledge will always be the closest in memory.

As a result, the government has made their own definition of sex legally binding, leaving no room for individual experiences as to what oneself feels like. 75

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Loaded Words The method of using loaded words is largely linked to the previous topic; traditional family values, and also the negative comparisons. This method is an example of an equivalence framing effect, not necessarily comparing the LGBT+ community to other groups like the first method, but rather steering associations to negative concepts (Iyengar, 2015, p. 267-268). Because it affects a wider topic than agenda setting - it considers important values and beliefs important to the inhabitants, it could also be seen as an issue frame (Nelson & Oxley, 1999, p. 1043, 1059). In Poland, this happens when Jarosław Kaczyński continues a statement about protecting families with: “However, we have a great problem, a threat. This threat is an attack on the family. This is essentially an attack on children. (...). Very early sexualisation of children is in its centre. (...) This is to begin in children aged between zero and four years. The natural identities of boys and girls are to be questioned at all times. The whole mechanism of preparing children for the future roles of mother and father is to be destroyed. (...). We shall say ‘no’ to the attack on children.” (Kaczyński, 2019, as cited in Żuk & Żuk, 2020, p. 1-2) In this statement, Kaczyński is drawing a line of equivalency between being a homosexual and being a “threat”, an “attack on the family” and an “attack on the children”. It is also made clear that to be considered within this type of “family” that needs to be protected, the family needs to be of the traditional sort. He is also comparing knowledge about LGBT+ topics to “very early sexualisation of children”, and denouncing the feeling of being born in the wrong gender as something pushed on children by adults, saying that “The natural identities of boys and girls are to be questioned at all times”. Calling sexual education an “attack on children” is dramatic. Przemysław Czarnek also used strong words when he announced this: “Let us protect the 76

traditional family model from such corrupt, depraved, and absolutely immoral behavior” (Czarnek, 2020, as cited in Śmigiel, 2020). By saying this, he implies that anything outside the traditional family model is “immoral behaviour”, as well as “corrupt” and “depraved”. Again, the word “protect” is used about the traditional family, creating this innocent sphere around the Christian traditional family values that are under attack. His emphasis on making children as the goal of having family continues when he stated that: “For God’s sake, it doesn’t take scientific evidence to know that a homosexual relationship can only result in kidney stones, not children.” (Czarnek, 2020, as cited in Śmigiel, 2020). The fact that they are including children to such a large extent in their rhetoric is also interesting, as this is a vulnerable group most people have sympathy for. In the PiS Party Program (2014), the “demographic crisis” is presented as a “danger”, “a process that weakens” Poland, “ which is strengthened by the depopulation of Poland (...)” This continues their rhetoric about the childrearing family as one of the most important foundations of Poland, the only thing that can save them from this “crisis”. However, they identify more reasons, such as: ”There are also cultural causes. One must only look at Hungary in order to confirm this thesis. A lack of a sense of one’s own value, the value of one’s culture, can be a factor that determines the strength of these negative processes. (...) It is worthwhile for the Polish family to continue to exist and grow [,] (...) to defend against threats to our liberty. We can achieve this if we overcome the demographic crisis, the crisis of the family, the crisis of parenthood (...)” (PiS Party Program, 2014). Linking values, both those of oneself and of one’s own culture, to the necessity of birth givings, and multiple crises, the demographic of the family and of parenthood, continues their narrative that everything outside the traditional family model is a threat that needs to be demolished for the sake of the country. It is also interesting that they mention Hungary, implying they have lost their sense of their own value, which Órban actually

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agrees with, and therefore introduced a “cultural war” in 2018 to improve the situation, which I will discuss in the last paragraph in the analysis (Hopkins, 2019). The PiS party program (2014) continues to explain more threats to the Polish family, and therefore towards the country’s moral and values with: “The spread of the ideology of gender is threatening for families and parents in Poland. (...). Setting up barriers against the spread of gender ideology is important. More important, though, are activities aimed at strengthening the family, defending parenthood, in particular the role of the mother and respect for motherhood, which ought to be treated not as a burden, but as a distinction and a privilege. Fatherhood should also be elevated to a higher rank, and the role of multi-child families must be underlined. Only by undertaking all these efforts together will we change the current unfavorable situation.” Here the PiS party is saying in literal terms that they want to set up “barriers against the spread of gender ideology”, creating a picture of a disease such as AIDS. Furthermore, LGBT+ rights removal is here called “activities aimed at strengthening the family”. The party seemingly sees it as their responsibility to “defend” motherand fatherhood and elevating these roles, together with multi-child families, to a higher rank. Their emphasis on the “demographic crisis” and the glorification of the multi-child family could for some make it sound logical to let homosexual parents adopt children as well, also allowing them to take part of this holy parenthood. However, that is not part of this party program. This is a paradox, but it manifests the large role of religion in the culture, which will be discussed in the next chapter.

LGBT+ rights removal is here called “activities aimed at strengthening the family”.

Remembering the highly emphasized importance of the traditional family values in Hungary from the previous method, Órban is also using strong rhetoric when he says that: “(...) the family has been transformed into an optional, fluid form of cohabitation; the nation, national identity and national pride are seen as negative and obsolete notions; and the state no longer guarantees security in Europe. In fact, in liberal Europe being European means nothing at all: it has no direction, and it is simply devoid of content.” (Tuşnad & Órban, 2018) Here, Órban is deliberately calling a family without a mom and a dad a “fluid form of cohabitation”, which in a country where family is repeatedly told to be the basis of the nation, is parallel to denouncing homosexual partnerships to something trivial, something that has no room in a family based nation.

Órban is deliberately calling a family without a mom and a dad a “fluid form of cohabitation”, which in a country where family is repeatedly told to be the basis of the nation, is parallel to denouncing homosexual partnerships to something trivial, something that has no room in a family based nation. This method is in many ways the method in which the framing becomes the most obvious, because the chosen words, such as “threats”, “attacks”, “barriers”, “crisis”, “depraved”, “fluid form of cohabitation” and “immoral” set up against “respect”, “motherhood” and “protect”, have such strong associations and connotations.


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Religious Argumentation Both countries show examples of creating bonds between religion and politics, which to a large extent defines the countries’ rhetoric about the LGBT+ community. This method can be seen as an issue frame, because it is so deeply rooted in the community, so that when politicians frame it to support their message, it affects the viewers beliefs (Nelson & Oxley, 1999, p. 1043, 1059). In Poland, Przemysław Czarnek announced, using both religion and the portrayal of people with different opinions as enemies as part of his rhetoric, that: “Instead of having children at 20-25, they’re giving birth at 30. When you give birth to your first child at 30, how many of them can you still have? These are the consequences of convincing a woman that she doesn’t have to do what God has called her to do.” (Czarnek, 2020, as cited in Śmigiel, 2020) By asking this question and giving this answer, Czarnek implies that there is one correct way to live life as a Polish woman, and that is one aligned with the wishes of God. In 2018, the government suggested strengthening the worth of Christian heritage, with question four in the government’s proposed constitutional referendum reading: “Are you for the inclusion in the preamble to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of a reference to Poland’s and Europe’s over thousand-year Christian heritage as an important source of our traditions, culture and national identity?” (The official website of the President of the Republic of Poland, 2018). Here, the Christian heritage is declared to be the basis for Polish traditions, culture and national identity. This is true in many ways, but if the government portrays this as the only way to be part of the Polish “true” society, then many Poles will not feel at home in their own country with these leaders. The same is done by Jarosław Kaczyński (2015) when he says that:


“We do not hide the fact that it is necessary to base the constitution on the system of values that is the only one known, present, and binding through Polish society. The repository of this system of values is above all the Catholic Church. This is a system that appeals to Christianity and to the national tradition. (...). In the system that I’m talking about, there is nothing that would be unacceptable to a nonbeliever, unless he is a personal enemy of the Lord God. There are people like that in Poland, but they are a minority.” Kaczyński here deliberately announces that the Catholic church is the only “value (...) known, present, and binding through Polish society”, and is therefore what the constitution should be based on. He realizes that “There are people like that in Poland”, that could disagree with his proposed system, however, he says that these are not nonbelievers, but “personal enemies of the Lord God”, which is interesting as he insinuates there is a spectrum of atheism deciding whether or not they will agree with the system. It is easy to assume that Kaczyński considers the LGBT+ rights protectors as “personal enemies of the Lord God”. He is also, by using “us vs. them” rhetoric, implying that these people, this “minority”, “they” are unimportant to consider. In the PiS Party Program (2014), this one and only “binding” value throughout the Polish society, Christianity, is again largely linked to identity: “(...) We do not treat belonging to the Polish nation as a value just because it was given by birth and cultural inheritance, but also because it results from a characteristic of our tradition. It is related in an inextricable way with Christianity and has an exceptionally strong connection to freedom and equality. (...) The teachings of the Catholic Church, Polish tradition, and Polish patriotism are tightly bound together, forming the political identity of the nation.” With this statement, the PiS party is leaving little room for other religious beliefs than the Christian if one wants to consider themselves Polish, nor to be a Christian with other opinions than theirs.

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The PiS party program (2014) continues, linking the religion to the right way to be a family: “(...) The correspondence between the teachings of the Catholic Church and the national tradition is clearly evident with regards to the family. Polish tradition always treated the family as particularly valuable, and in the period when we lacked independence, the family was very often the foundation of national identity. In contemporary research the family is treated, as a rule, as something particularly valuable, as a means to an ever fuller self-realization in the history of our humanity.” The party program talks about the Catholic Church, national identity and family to such an extent that the terms almost appear interchangeably. The PiS party program (2014) makes no room for misunderstandings about how important the church is for the Polish Society: “To this day, the Church sustains and proclaims moral teachings that are universally recognized in Poland. There is no competition in the wider society, so it is entirely correct to say that in Poland the moral teachings of the Church are opposed only by nihilism. For these reasons, the unique status of the Catholic Church in our national and state life is extraordinarily important. We want to maintain it, and we believe that attempts to destroy the Church, and unfair attacks on the Church, are threats to the form of our social life.”

The party program talks about the Catholic Church, national identity and family to such an extent that the terms almost appear interchangeably.

leaving much out of the picture - even calling everything not aligned with this view “nihilism”. This can also be assumed to have played a large role in the removal of sexual education in schools, as that is viewed as one of the “threats to the form of our social life”, and the inclusion of a curriculum surrounding traditional family values to “prepare for family life” is a way of “maintaining” the “unique status of the Catholic Church” (Gawlowski & Goclowski, 2019). The preamble for the Hungarian constitution (2011, p. 3) highlights the position of the religion: “We recognise the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood. We value the various religious traditions of our country. We hold that the family and the nation constitute the principal framework of our coexistence, and that our fundamental cohesive values are fidelity, faith and love.” Hungarian politicians thus have the constitution to rely on when using religion to argue for restricting what they see as threats against this “nationhood” and family, namely LGBT+ rights. In both countries, the large use of religion in their rhetoric seems to be an important way in which they shape the opinion of religious inhabitants. Goździak and Márton(2018, p. 132) argue that the Christian identity has been made use of for political gain, and that despite Hungary being one of the least religious countries in Europe, Fidesz is strengthening its Christian-nationalist profile in an effort to attract young, educated professionals who consider Christianity as a core part of their identity. The strong “us vs. them” rhetoric, shown for example by Kaczyński and in the PiS party program, can, however, also be assumed to be so strong it actually creates a “stronger” opposition, because no one wants their beliefs to be named “nihilism”.

Here, the government’s view on which values are the correct ones are clearly visible, claiming that the Church can present “moral teachings that are universally recognized in Poland”, ultimately


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Creating a Narrative by Using History Politicians in both Poland and Hungary have introduced programs aiming for “renewal” or “improving” in these last years; essentially implying there has been a decay in morals, values and national identity in their countries, and that one has to look back to history to restore the national identity. This undermines all improvement in human rights and the valuation of LGBT+ rights. This is largely linked to national pride, moral renewal and institutional changes - all of which are used as arguments to remove equal rights. This method can be seen as a form of emphasis framing effect and issue framing, because it highlights only one way to view the historical events they refer to, and aims towards beliefs (Iyengar, 2015, p. 267-268; Nelson & Oxley, 1999, p. 1043, 1059). Examples of politicians talking about a need for an improvement of the nation by introducing “new cultural values” as a reason for institutional reforms are seen in both Poland and Hungary. In Poland an example appeared during a speech in 2015 for the electoral college, when Jarosław Kaczyński (2015) announced that: “(...) We want to improve Poland to enable our entire nation to make use of its full potential, so that we can move forward and eliminate the divisions between us and our western neighbors. Our ultimate goal is a strong and successful Poland! (...) Such a change will bring a number of institutional reforms. (...).” It is interesting to notice that Kaczyński aims to “eliminate the divisions between us [Poland] and our western neighbors” with “a number of institutional reforms”. The institutional, legislative and educational changes that have occurred until now, regarding the judges, the media, the sexual education, LGBT+ rights, abortion and the state of the church, in reality is pushing Poland further away from their “western neighbors”. Continuing the statement, Kaczyński (2015) uses history of pride as a call to fight:


“We must unite as a nation. (...). Unity means also a strong identity with the nation, as well as confidence and pride in being Polish. Our pride has been degraded for over 20 years; we were taught to be ashamed (...). We can and we will stand up against this phenomenon in Poland, by changing our education programs and introducing new cultural values (...).” Kaczyński speaks very highly about the need to unify through a strong identity, however, the aforementioned statements have made it clear which identity is seen as the “correct” one. The highlighting of a “degraded” pride and confidence in being Polish, appears as an act of “proposition” to the people; giving them a problem and saying the speakers have the solution to make it better. This loss of confidence and pride in being Polish, they say, can only be elevated again if traditional family values are taught in school and new cultural values are introduced - however, it is reasonable to assume that the “new” cultural values will actually be remarkably similar to those of traditional Catholic values seen centuries ago. About the changing of education program Kaczyński (2015) says that: “Major changes are required in education – we need to raise our behavioral standards; we need to instill the essential sense of identity. We cannot succeed without our identity and we learnt that from other countries’ experience. Those that succeeded have built strong unity, whereas our unity has been consistently destroyed over the last 20 years. This is a valid issue and we need a major change. (…) The role of schooling in the lives of citizens needs to change. This is the only way to our success.“ Kaczyński makes it clear that the change in curriculum was necessary in order to raise the “behavioral standards”, and that introducing teachings about the traditional family values will help “instill the essential sense of identity”. When Andrzej Duda talks about changing Poland, he emphasizes values, saying that:

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“Values are deeply rooted in our common cultural heritage. (...) Let me advance a thesis that out of three foundations of the European identity: Greek philosophy and its concept of democracy, the Roman sense of law, and the Judeo-Christian ethics, in today’s political discourse, we refer the least to our spiritual and ethical roots. (...) Without the debate about the common values, there will be no united Europe. Europe which is connected only by law and institutions, without the base of values and morality, is easy to manipulate and open to conflicts of interests. (...) The return to values is also the basis for regaining society’s trust in European integration. EU citizens must be again confident that European institutions fulfill their needs. (...)” (Duda, 2018b).

tude . . . determined by cultural trends, collective beliefs and social customs (...) This is now the task we are faced with: we must embed the political system in a cultural era.” (Hopkins, 2019) Órban thus uses this need for a new “cultural era” as an argument to change the political system, which one can easily agree that he has done. This method of creating a narrative about how there has been a “moral decay” that needs to be solved can help politicians in both countries to send out a message about a need for urgency for their own politics.

Here, Duda is talking about Europe as a whole, however, the actual political changes made these last years as part of the “return to values” can seem to mostly align with Hungary. The Hungarian Constitution (2011) states that: “We hold that after the decades of the twentieth century which led to a state of moral decay, we have an abiding need for spiritual and intellectual renewal. We trust in a jointly-shaped future and the commitment of younger generations. We believe that our children and grandchildren will make Hungary great again with their talent, persistence and moral strength.” It is reasonable to assume that the rise of equal rights are part of the reasons for the “moral decay”, and the removal of these therefore a part of the “need for spiritual and intellectual renewal”. Here, again, children are included; both as something that gives hope, but also to underscore that the birth of these – in other words, the relationship between a man and a woman – is highly necessary in order to combat this “moral decay”. Because of this “renewal”, Órban has started a cultural war, arguing that: “An era is a special and characteristic cultural reality . . . a spiritual order, a kind of prevailing mood, perhaps even taste — a form of atti81

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Politicians in Poland and Hungary frame knowledge using many different methods. While analyzing the data, I found out that most of the quotes included cases of multiple categories. However, the most noticeable one that appeared most frequently was the portrayal of family as only one combination; as a union between a man and a woman, and the noticeable emphasis on how vital this value is for the foundation and continuation of both Poland and Hungary. What stands out from the dataset is that the studied politicians seem to be vividly aware of the fact that by packaging their ideology in a specific way, they can create a mental framework, spreading their vision of the world and mobilizing certain groups of the society (Ĺťuk & Ĺťuk, 2020, p. 2; Gbadegesin & Onanuga, 2018, p. 121-130). This study concludes with the fact that knowledge is not objective, and that the framing of it can affect its implications. In further studies it would be interesting to look closer at the correlation between democratic backsliding and framing tendencies among politicians. Poland and Hungary are only two examples, and they are also widely affected by their Eastern European status and culture. Other countries who experience democratic backsliding might be affected by another culture and other religions and it would have been interesting to see if the same framing methods are still used. One can assume that they are to some extent, but at the same time Poland and Hungary might feel a stronger need to protect themselves from the Western developments in comparison to countries who are more geographically distanced to Western Europe.


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Introduction Fuller, S. (2007). The Knowledge Book : Key Concepts in Philosophy, Science and Culture. McGill-Queen’s University Press. c9-9c527c349b2b@pdc-v-sessmgr05&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1 Jason, Z. (2018). Student Activism 2.0. Harvard Ed. Magazine. Retrieved January 6th, 2021 from https://www.gse.harvard. edu/news/ed/18/08/student-activism-20 Knowledge (n.d.). In Retrieved January 6th, 2021 from Postmodernism (n.d.). In Britannica. Retrieved January 6th, 2021 from Tjora, A. (2020, December 3rd). Sosialkonstruktivisme. Store Norske Leksikon. Retrieved January 6th, 2021 from https://snl. no/sosialkonstruktivisme

Thematic Directions Berlin, A. & Brettler, M. Z. (Ed.). (2004). The Jewish Study Bible. (2. edition). Oxford University Press. Dahl, R. A. (1957). The concept of power. Behavioral science, 2(3), 201-215. Digital Technology. (n.d.). In Retrieved January 6th, 2021 from García, J. M. R. (2001). Scientia Potestas Est–Knowledge is Power: Francis Bacon to Michel Foucault. Neohelicon, 28(1), 109121. Holy Bible, New Living Translation, 1996/2015, Book of Deuteronomy 7-21. Knowledge. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved Januar 6th, 2021 from dictionary/knowledge Technology. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved January 6th, 2021 from dictionary/technology Norm. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved January 6th, 2021, from Value. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved January 6th, 2021, from Treptov, R. (n.d.). Knowledge society. GOETE. Retrieved 06.01.21 from


Case 1 : Students’ Perceptions of Discussion Environments in Higher Education Arao, B. & Clemens, K. (2013). From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces: A New Way to Frame Dialouge Around Diversity and Social Justice. In L. M. Landreman (Eds.), The Art of Effective Facilitation: Reflections From Social Justice Educators (pp. 135-150). Stylus Publishing. Callan, E. (2016). Education in Safe and Unsafe Spaces. Philosophical Inquiry in Education, 24(1),p. 64–78. https://files.eric. Campbell, B. & Manning, J. (2018). The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars. Palgrave Macmillan. CBS Los Angeles (2020, June 10th). UCLA Professor on Leave After Students Blast Response To Request To Postpone Final Exam As “Woefully Racist”. CBS Los Angeles. Craciun, D. & Mihut, G. (2017). Requiem for a Dream: Academic Freedom under Threat in Democracies. International Higher Education, 90, 15-16. http://dx.doi/org/10.6017/ihe.2017.90.9929 Fairclough, N. (2003). “Political correctness”: the politics of culture and language. Discourse & Society, 14(1), 17-28. https:// Future Learn (2018). Academic Freedom vs. Freedom of Expression. Future Learn. Godderis, R. & Root, J. L. (2016). Trigger Warnings: Compassion is Not Censorship. Radical Pedagogy, 13(2), 130-138. Hamilton, C. (2015). Political correctness: Its Origins and the Backlash Against It. The Conversation. https://theconversation. com/political-correctness-its-origins-and-the-backlash-against-it-46862 Hitland, S. H., Nielsen B. F. & Refstie, H. (2019). Den kritiske student, Norge anno 2019. In A. Tjora (Eds.), Universitetskamp (pp. 237-262). Scandinavian Academic Press. Huber, B. (2016). The Role of Universities in Society. In N.C. Liu, Y. Cheng & Q. Wang (Eds.), Matching Visibility and Performance: Global Perspectives on Higher Education (pp. 90-99). Sense Publishers. Holley, L. C. & Steiner, S. (2005). Safe Space: Student Perspectives on Classroom Environment. Journal of Social Work Education, 41(1), 49-64. Karran, T. (2009). Academic Freedom: in Justification of a Universal Ideal. Studies in Higher Education, 34(3), 263-283. Kwiek, M. (2006). The Classical German Idea of the University Revisited, or on the Nationalization of the Modern Institution. The Center for Public Policy Studies Research Papers Series, 1, 2-60. Lie, T. (2020, August 18th). Dette er tyskervits-saken. Khrono. Mathiyazhagan, T. & Nandan, D (2010). Survey Research Method. Media Mimansa, July-September, 34-45. https://www. Morris, S. (2001). Political Correctness. Journal of Political Economy, 109(2), 231-265.



Pithers, R. T. & Soden, R. (2000). Critical thinking in education: a review. Educational Research, 42(3), 237-249. https://doi. org/10.1080/001318800440579 Readings, B. (1996). The University in Ruins. Harvard University Press. Shorrocks, S. (2018). Cohort Change in Political Gender Gaps in Europe and Canada: The Role of Modernization. Politics & Society, 46(2), 135-175. Spencer, L. G. & Kulbaga, T. A. (2018). Trigger warnings as respect for student boundaries in university classrooms. Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, 15(1), 106-122. Suri, J. (2009). AHR Forum: The Rise and Fall of an International Counterculture, 1960–1975. The American Historical Review, 114(1), 45–68. Sutliff, A. (2019, April 21st). Political correctness overwhelms the left, leaving behind critical issues. The Daily Cardinal. Tjora, A. (2017). Kvalitative forskningsmetoder i praksis. 2. utgave. Gyldedal Akademisk. V-Dem Institute (2020). Autocratization Surges - Resistance Grows: Democracy Report 2020. V-Dem Institute. 5-Point Likert Scale (2010). In V. R. Preedy & R. R. Watson (Eds.), Handbook of Disease Burdens and Quality of Life Measures.

Case 2 : Towards a More Ethical Development of Digital Platforms AlgoTransparency. (n.d.) Home Page. Artificial Intelligence Team. (n.d.). AI Basics: How AI & Machine Learning Supercharge Your Social Media Marketing. Retrieved 16.12.20 from Bradshaw, L. (n.d.). Big Data and What it Means. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Retrieved 17.12.20 from https:// Bowen, G. A. (2009). Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method. Qualitative Research Journal, 9(2), p. 27-40. Center for Humane Technology. (2020a, 11.oct). Ledger of Harms. Retrieved 11.01.2021 from https://ledger.humanetech. com/ Center for Humane Technology. (2020b, 23. jan). Tristan Harris - Congressional Hearing January 8, 2020 - Statement Plus Highlights [Video]. Youtube. Center for Humane Technology. (n.d.a). Who we are. Retrieved 13.12.2020 from Center for Humane Technology. (n.d.b). What we do. Retrieved 14.12.2020 from Center for Humane Technology. (n.d.c). Get involved. Retrieved 16.12.2020 from Center for Humane Technology. (n.d.d). For Technologists. Retrieved 16.12.2020 from


Center for Humane Technology. (n.d.e). For Students, Parents, and Educators. Retrieved 16.12.2020 from https://www. Center for Humane Technology. (n.d.f ). Your Undivided Attention. Retrieved 17.12.2020 from https://www.humanetech. com/podcast Center for Humane Technology. (n.d.g). Home Page. CNBC. (2019, 23.oct). Center of Humane Tech’s Tristan Harris attacks Facebook and Google for “downgrading” humanity. retrieved from Electronic Frontier Foundation. (n.d.). Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Retrieved 16.12.20 from https:// Expert System Team (2020, 6. may). What is Machine Learning? A definition. Retrieved from ai/blog/machine-learning-definition/#:~:text=Machine%20learning%20is%20an%20application,use%20it%20learn%20 for%20themselves. Fogg, B. J. (1998, January). Persuasive computers: perspectives and research directions. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 225-232). Goldhaber, M. H. (1997). The Attention Economy and the Net. First Monday, 2(4-7). Retrieved from ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/519/440/ Harris, T. & Raskin, A. (2019a, 25. june). With Great Power comes… No Responsibility? [Audio Podcast Episode]. In Your Undivided Attention. Center for Humane Technology. Harris, T. & Raskin, A. (2019b, 10.july). Down the Rabbit Hole by Design. [Audio Podcast Episode]. In Your Undivided Attention. Center for Humane Technology. Matsakis, L. (2018, 25. april). Facebook’s Targeted Ads Are More Complex Than It Lets On. Wired. story/facebooks-targeted-ads-are-more-complex-than-it-lets-on/ Memory (n.d.). The attention economy: what is it, what it’s doing to you. Retrieved 16.12.20 from Nichols, M. (2007, 20.jan). Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” is You. Reuters. Orlowski, J. (Director). (2020). The Social Dilemma [Documentary]. Exposure Labs, Argent Pictures, The Space Program. Ringdal, K. (2014). Enhet og Mangfold. Samfunnsvitenskapelig forskning og kvantitativ metode. 3 utgave. Fagbokforlaget. Rouse, M. (n.d.). Human downgrading. In Retrieved 14.12.20 from human-downgrading SAS Institute Inc. (n.d.). Big Data: What is it and why it matters. Retrieved 16.12.20 from Social media. (n.d.). In Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus. Retrieved 13.12.20 from https://dictionary. Stanford University. (n.d.). The Ethical Use of Persuasive Technology. Retrieved from ethical-use-persuasive-technology Thompson, N. (2019, 23.april). Tristan Harris: Tech Is “Downgrading Humans”. It’s Time to Fight Back. Wired. https://www. Tjora, A. (2017). Kvalitative forskningsmetoder i praksis. 2. utgave. Gyldedal Akademisk.



Tristan Harris (n.d.). About. Retrieved January 6th 2021 from Widyasari, Y. D. L., Nugroho, L. E. & Permanasari, A. E. (2019). Persuasive technology for enhanced learning behavior in higher education. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 16(1). White, A. (2014, 22. may). Look how hard Facebook And Google Are Fighting for Your Attention. Buzzfeed. https://www.

Case 3 : Refugee Children’s Educational Integration Devictor, X. (2019). 2019 update : How long do refugees stay in exile? Directorate of Education (2012). Veileder : Innføringstilbud til nyankomne minoritetsspråklige elever. globalassets/upload/lov_regelverk/veiledere/veileder_innforingstilbud_020712.pdf Kozulin, A. (2003). Psychological Tools and Mediated Learning. In A. Kozulin, B. Gindis, V. Ageyev, S. Miller (Ed.), Vygotsky’s Educational Theory in Cultural Context (p. 15-38). Cambridge University Press. McLeod, S. (2020). Lev Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Learning Theory. Simple Psychology. vygotsky.html Munoz, C. (Ed.) (2006). Age and the Rate of Foreign Language Learning. Cromwell Press Ltd. Salzer, M. S. (2012). A Comparative Study of Campus Experiences of College Students With Mental Illnesses Versus a General College Sample. Journal of American College Health, 60(1), p. 1-7. 8481.2011.552537?scroll=top&needAccess=true SSB (2020, May 13th). Personer med flyktningbakgrunn. Thomassen, A. (2013, April 30th). Utdanning og utvikling. Utdanningsforbundet. var-politikk/kunnskapsgrunnlag/publikasjoner/2013/utdanning-og-utvikling-temanotat-32013/ Tjora, A. (2017). Kvalitative forskningsmetoder i praksis. 2. utgave. Gyldedal Akademisk. Tribe, R. (2002). Mental health of refugees and asylum-seekers. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 8(4), p. 240-247. https:// UNHCR (n.d.a). What is a Refugee? UNHCR (n.d.b). Refugee Camps. UNHCR (n.d.c). Refugee Statistics. UNHCR (n.d.d) Child and Youth Protection. UNHCR (2003). Refugee Education in 2002/03 : Indicators and standards for 66 camp locations. https://www.unhcr. org/3f8535d22.pdf UNHCR (2011). Global Trends 2010. UNHCR (2017). Europe. UNHCR (2020a, June 18th). Figures at a glance. UNHCR (2020b). Coming Together For Refugee Education.


United Nations (1948). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. United Nations Associations of Norway (2019, June 21st). Flyktninger. Watters, C. (2001). Emerging paradigms in the mental health care of refugees. Social Science & Medicine, 52(11), p. 17091718. Zander, I.M. (2020, May 25th). Moria-barna : hvem er de og hva handler striden om? Dagsavisen. https://www.dagsavisen. no/nyheter/innenriks/moria-barna-hvem-er-de-og-hva-handler-striden-om-1.1718598

Case 4 : Political Leaders in Poland and Hungary’s Framing of Knowledge Arak, P. & Żakowiecki, P. (2015). Poland 2015. Freedom House. Balogh, E. S. (2015, May 22nd). Viktor Orbán: “Hungary is a serious country” where gays are patiently tolerated. Hungarian Spectrum. BBC. (2020, June 14th). Polish election: Andrzej Duda says LGBT ‘ideology’ worse than communism. BBC. com/news/world-europe-53039864 Bemeo, N. (2016). On Democratic Backsliding. Journal of Democracy, (1), 5-19. Béres-Deák, R. (2020) The Family in (Post)Socialist Hungary: Queer Families in Hungary. Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life. Palgrave Macmillan. Bild. (2016, January 3rd). Polen-Minister verteidigt Mediengesetz. Bild. Botha, K. (2020, June 4th). #Drop33 : Europe’s Two Largest Networks of LGBTI and Trans Organisations Call on Hungarian Parliament to Reject Attempts to Ban Legal Gender Recognition. ILGA World. Bowen, G. A. (2009). Document Analysis as a Qualitative Research Method. Qualitative Research Journal, 9(2), p. 27-40. Buyantueva, R. & Shevtsova, M. (2020). LGBTQ+ Activism in Central and Eastern Europe; Resistance, Representation and Identity. Palgrave Macmillan. 270-275. Chong, D. & Druckman, J. (2007). Framing Theory. Annual Review of Political Science, 10, 104. https://www.annualreviews. org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.polisci.10.072805.103054 Cianetti, L., Dawson, J. & Hanley, S. (2018). Rethinking “democratic backsliding” in Central and Eastern Europe – looking beyond Hungary and Poland. East European Politics, 34(3), 245. De la Baume, M. (2020, July 16th). MEP’s urge EU to push Poland closer to sanctions over rule of law. Politico. https://www. De Witte, K. (2019, July 2nd). Teachers’ and pupils’ perspectives on homosexuality: A comparative analysis across European countries. International Sociology, 34(4), 476.



Druckman, J. (2001). The Implications of Framing Effects for Citizen Competence. Political Behavior, 23(3), 226. Duda, A. (2018a, June 13th). President appeals for turnout at constitutional referendum. Prezydent. https://www.president. pl/en/news/art,780,president-appeals-for-turnout-at-constitutional-referendum.html Duda, A. (2018b, October 9th). The Future of Europe: The Foundations of Unity of the States of Europe. Prezydent. https://,874,he-future-of-europe-the-foundations-of-unity--of-the-states-of-europe.html Easton, A. (2019, October 9th). Polish election: Leader targets gay rights as threats to society. BBC. news/world-europe-49904849 Erdő-Bonyár, K. (2019, May 20th). People react to House Speaker’s homophobic statements with demonstration. Daily News Hungary. Freedom House. (2020). Hungary 2020. Freedom House. Gawlowski, J. & Goclowski, M. (2019, October 16th). Polish lawmakers vote for bill criminalizing ‘promoting underage sex’. Reuters. Gbadegesin, V. O. & Onanuga, P. A. (2018, November 27th). The enactment of ideology and self-presentation in political campaignvideos of the 2015 general election in Nigeria. Discourse, Context & Media, 28, 121-130. https://reader. Gernand, A. (2019, March 9th). Wybory do europarlamentu 2019. Jarosław Kaczyński na Podkarpaciu: Nasi przeciwnicy atakują dzieci. Wyborcza.,34962,24532361,jaroslaw-kaczynski-na-podkarpaciu-oataku-przeciwnikow-pis-na.html Goździak, E. M. & Márton, P. (2018). Where the Wild Things Are: Fear of Islam and the Anti-Refugee Rhetoric in Hungary and in Poland. Central and Eastern European Migration Review, 7(2), 127-132. Gozdziak_Marton_Where_the_Wild_Things_Are.pdf Grzymala-Busse, A. (2017, August 2nd). A Tale of Two Illiberalisms: Why Is Poland Failing Where Hungary Succeeded? The Global Observatory. Hopkins, V. (2019, July 25th). Hungary’s Viktor Orban and the rewriting of history. Financial Times. Hopkins, V. (2020, November 11th). Orban proposes changes to Hungary’s electoral law. Financial Times. https://www. ILGA Europe. (2020). Rainbow Europe 2020. ILGA Europe. (2020). Annual Review of the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in Europe and Central Asia. 57-87. Isaacs, S. (Ed.). (2017). European Social Problems (1st ed.). Routledge. Iyengar, S. (2015). Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide. 267-268.’s_Guide


Jenne, E. K. (2018). Is Nationalism or Ethnopopulism on the Rise Today? Ethnopolitics, 17(4), 547-549. Kaczyński, J. (2015, October 24th). “Our aim to govern is not motivated by a revenge or to get even. (…) The time of integrity is about to begin in Poland,” says Jarosław Kaczyński during his speech in Warsaw. Poland Current News. Kaczyński, J. (2015, December 13th). Speech, translated by Brian Porter-Szűcs. Karolewski, I. P. & Sata, R. (2020). Caesarean politics in Hungary and Poland. East European Politics, 36(2), 209-220. https:// Kaszás, F. (2019, October 15th). Coca-Cola Fined for Ads With Same-Sex Couples ‘Undermining Adolescents’ Moral Development’. Hungary Today. Kent, N. & Poushter, J. (2020, June 25th). The Global Divide on Homosexuality Persists. Global Attitudes & Trends. https:// Kerpel, A. (2017). Pole and Hungarian Cousins Be? A Comparison of State Media Capture, Ideological Narratives and Political Truth Monopolization in Hungary and Poland. Slovo, 29(1), 68-71. Kim, S. (2020, July 9th). ...Because the homeland cannot be in opposition: analysing the discourses of Fidesz and Law and Justice (PiS) from opposition to power. East European Politics. 1-16. 65.2020.1791094?needAccess=true Kovács, B. A. (2015). Hungary 2015. Freedom House. Kováts, E. & Zacharenko, E. (2020, April 29th). How Fidesz and PiS exploit the culture war. International Politics and Society. Lee, G. (2020, November 16th). EU budget blocked by Hungary and Poland over rule of law issue. BBC. com/news/world-europe-54964858 Lugosi, N. (2020, March 9th). Radical right framing of social policy in Hungary: between nationalism and populism. Journal of International and Comparative Social Policy, 34(3), 212-217. MTI-Hungary Today. (2020, October 4th). Orbán Calls for Cooperation to Seize Momentum for ‘Breakthrough’ in Doctors’ Wage Hike. Hungary Today. Nelson, T. E. & Oxley, Z. M. (1999). Issue Framing Effects on Belief Importance and Opinion. The Journal of Politics, 61(4), 1041-1059. Newton, K. (2001, April 1st). Trust, Social Capital, Civil Society, and Democracy. International Political Science Review, 22(2), 201. PiS Party Program (2014). Law and Justice Party Program, translated by Brian Porter-Szűcs. http://porterszucs. pl/2016/02/05/pis-in-their-own-words/ Plucinska, J. & Ptak, A. (2020, June 13th). Polish President Compares ‘LGBT Ideology’ to Soviet Indoctrination. US News.



Politico. (2018, September 12th). What is Article 7, the EU’s ‘nuclear option’? Politico. Renkin, H. Z. (2009). Homphobia and queer belonging in Hungary. Focaal. 21. Śmigiel, M. (2020, October 5th). Hundreds protest against the newly-appointed Minister of Education. “We don’t want a homophobic minister”. Wyborcza.,173236,26371085,hundreds-protest-against-the-newly-appointedminister-of-education.html The Hungarian Constitution (2011). The official website of the President of the Republic of Poland (2018, June 12th). The proposed constitutional referendum questions.,778,the-proposed-constitutional-referendum-questions.html The Polish Constitution (1997). Tjora, A. (2017). Kvalitative forskningsmetoder i praksis. 2. utgave. Gyldedal Akademisk. Trantidis, A. (2016, May 19th). Is government contestability an integral part of the definiton of democracy? Politics, 37(1), 69. Tuşnad, B. & Órban, V. (2018, July 28th). Prime Minister Viktor Órban’s speech at the 29th Bálványos Summer Open University and Student Camp. Website of the Hungarian Government. the-prime-minister-s-speeches/prime-minister-viktor-orban-s-speech-at-the-29th-balvanyos-summer-open-universityand-student-camp Vachudova, M. A. (2020). Ethnopopulism and democratic backsliding in Central Europe. East European Politics, 36(3), 318320. Van Hulst, M. & Yanow, D. (2014, May 30th). From Policy “Frames” to “Framing”: Theorizing a More Dynamic, Political Approach. The American Review of Public Administration, 46(1), 93. pdf/10.1177/0275074014533142 Wójcik, A. & Wiatrowski, M. (2020). Poland 2020. Freedom House. World Health Organization. (2017, May 17th). International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. https:// Żuk, P. & Żuk, P. (2020). ‘Euro-Gomorrah and Homopropaganda’: The culture of fear and ‘Rainbow Scare’ in the narrative of right-wing populists media in Poland as part of the election campaign to the European Parliament in 2019. Discourse, Context & Media, 33, 1-2.





Case 1 : Students’ Perceptions of Discussion Environments in Higher Education Survey Questionnaire 1. (Open question) In what country did you study/are you currently studying? 2. Would you place your field of study mainly within natural (e.g. mathematics, biology, physics etc.) or social (e.g. sociology, political science, economics etc.) science? • Natural science • Social science 3. What gender do you identify as? • Male • Female • Other 4. Marginalized groups are considered groups of people within a risk of being discriminated due to characteristics such as gender, sex, ethnicity, disability or religion. Do you consider yourself to belong to a marginalized group at your university? • Yes • No 5. (Open question) If so, what marginalized group? 6. Do you feel like students have the freedom to initiate discussions about controversial topics at your university? • Yes • No 7. (Open question) Why/why not? Please elaborate briefly. 8. Do you feel like lecturers have the freedom to initiate discussions about controversial themes at your university? • Yes • No 9. When controversial topics have been raised in lectures, have you ever experienced any situation(s) where you’ve felt offended? • Yes • No 10. If so, was it because of your lecturer’s statements, or the curriculum presented? You can skip this question if you answered no on the previous one. • My lecturer • The curriculum 11. (Open question) Do you feel like you are able to criticise the presented curriculum and/or the lecturer? Why/why not? Elaborate briefly. 12. (Open question) Do you think the presented curriculum helps you develop critical thinking (the ability to think rationally and reflect on your beliefs and decisions)? Please elaborate in a sentence or two. 13. Would you prefer a “trigger warning” (a warning that content may be upsetting) if you were to be exposed to distressing content or uncomfortable statements during lectures? • Yes • No 14. (Open question) In your opinion, whose responsible is it to create a safe environment for discussion for the students?


15. If you decided not to participate in a discussion regarding a controversial topic, would it mainly be because of the fear of offending someone, or being offended yourself? • The fear of offending someone • The fear of being offended • Both • None 16. Do you think being exposed to opinions that make you feel uncomfortable can contribute to more reflective thinking? • Yes • No 17. (Open question) Do you think open and boundless discussions could contribute to normalizing hateful and dangerous opinions and attitudes? Please elaborate why/why not. 18. Do you prefer to discuss a difficult and controversial topic with someone you agree with or an opponent? • Someone I agree with • An opponent 19. If you were to participate in a debate regarding a controversial topic (e.g. the Black Lives Matter movement), to what degree would you consider the other participants’ feelings (1 being the lowest and 5 the highest)? • 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 20. Do you find the right of your fellow students and lecturers to express their opinions more important than you potentially feeling offended? • Yes • No 21. Do you think, personally, that safe spaces (an environment in which students are guaranteed to not be exposed to discrimination or criticism) help protect students from potentially upsetting situations? • Yes • No 22. (Open question) In your opinion, can the creation of safe spaces be helpful to students who wish to participate in discussions without the risk of being offended? Please elaborate in a few sentences. 23. Do you think participating in safe spaces will make students more reluctant to listen to their opponents’ opinions? • Yes • No 24. (Open question) What do you think would be more productive when solving a controversial issue; open and boundless discussions or discussions in which the feelings of the vulnerable participants are taken into account? Please elaborate in a few sentences. 25. (Open question) Is there anything relevant to this survey that you would like to add?



Countries and Democracy

Participant number

Residing country 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Norway Norway Norway Japan Italy Peru Peru Brazil Turkey Italy Turkey Kenya Brazil Algeria Brazil Indonesia Brazil Brazil Uganda



Case 3 : Refugee Children’s Educational Integration Interview questions Opening questions • What is your job and role in the school? • How long have you worked in this field? • What does a typical day at work look like? • In what way do you know children who have had to seek refuge? • Do you have any experience with refugee children outside of school? For instance, from visiting refugee camps or so? • Can you describe your relationship with these children? • Today? Earlier? • How long will the children have been fleeing, typically? • At what age? Generalized. • Is the journey and their time as a refugee something you talk with your pupils about? • What is an introductory class? • How long have the children been in Norway before they start in an introductory class? • How old are the children you work with in an introductory class? Education while seeking refuge • Do you know how children attain education while seeking refuge? • What systems are in place? Education after seeking refuge • When these children arrive to Norway, how is their status of knowledge? • If there are any holes: are they obvious? • What types of holes are there? Any subjects in particular? • How is it for the children to catch up what they have missed out on? • Does it take a long time? • Can they «catch up» to the other pupils? • How long are the refugee children in Norway before they are offered education? • Is there any particular knowledge refugee children have that Norwegian children do not? If yes, what? • Are there any differences between the knowledge boys and girls have? If yes: what kind of differences? What might be the cause of this? • Do you think their age has any impact on how big holes there are in their knowledge? • Which age group has the most holes? Who is it harder to catch up for? • What kind of focus on education do you have in the introductory class? Any special sub- jects or themes? Any big differences from other Norwegian classes?



Social tendencies • Do you have a social focus that separates from the school system? • How are the children when they come into the Norwegian school system? Is it easy for them to make friends? Are they bullied or teased? • If any students have had troubles: do you think that this can impact how children’s knowledge develops? Do they lose motivation? • Do you think their time seeking refuge has anything to say for their integration com- pared to other foreigners who come to Norway? Potential consequences • Do you know how these students do after primary/upper secondary school? Have you noticed if they typically choose to go down different paths from other students? Measures • •

Do you do anything different at your school to make it easier for the student in the Norwegian school system? Have you personally taken any measures? Is there anything you think should be done differently to make it even easier? Do you have any opinions about what should be done in refugee camps so children can have a better education?

Challenges •

What do you think is the biggest challenge when it comes to this problem?