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„Dark-field study“ on antisemitism in North Rhine-Westphalia

„Dark-field study“ on antisemitism in North Rhine-Westphalia

A "dark-field study" to shed light on the spread of antisemitic prejudice and resentment in society is being conducted by Professor Lars Rensmann, political science scholar at the University of Passau, in collaboration with the sociologist Professor Heiko Beyer from Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. North Rhine-Westphalian Minister of the Interior Herberg Heul and North Rhine Westphalian Antisemitism Commissioner Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger presented the launch of the study in November 2022.

After scrutinising the various milieu-specific and situational iterations of antisemitic language and behaviour, the researchers will use the resulting database to assess the forms and representative scope of antisemitism in North Rhine Westphalia, including the relevance of antisemitism in specific social and situational contexts. Based on the prospective findings of this research project, the aim is to ultimately develop and recommend specific actions in support of the antisemitism commissioner of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the state government in their work and enable targeted preventive action.

Professor Rensmann of the University of Passau explains the significance of the study as follows: "This study will substantially expand the toolbox available to us for surveys regarding all forms of antisemitism, including modernised variants. The combination of the tools will provide us with a more accurate and comprehensive view, but also a representative understanding of antisemitism and its social significance in North Rhine Westphalia. Based on these social-science findings, we specifically hope to gain new critical insights into how we can better, more effectively, and more sustainably combat enmity against the Jews, particularly within the context of schools, political education, and societal institutions. Although the empirical focus is on the State of North Rhine Westphalia, the findings will undoubtedly have significance far beyond the state's borders."

The two cooperation partners, Professor Rensmann of the University of Passau and Professor Beyer from Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, are both experts on the causes and effects of antisemitism and have a great deal of experience with the implementation of data surveys and their analysis and evaluation. There will be additional input from the criminalistic/criminological research centre in North Rhine Westphalia. The survey is due to be conducted in 2023-24. Following an evaluation and analysis, an initial interim report will be published in 2024. Completion of the study is scheduled for the end of 2024.

Personal profile

Professor Lars Rensmann has held the Chair of Political Science with a Focus on Comparative Government since the summer semester of 2022. Prior to that, he had served as Professor for European policy and society at the University of Groningen, associate professor of political science at John Cabot University in Rome, and DAAD assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan. Taking a comparative approach, Professor Rensmann studies authoritarianism, antisemitism, populism and right-wing radicalism around the world. Last year, he authored an analysis for the American Jewish Committee Berlin on the extent to which antisemitism is part of the core programmatic agenda of the German right-wing political party Alternative for Germany (AfD).


Principal Investigator(s) at the University Prof. Dr. Lars Rensmann (Lehrstuhl für Politikwissenschaft mit Schwerpunkt Vergleichende Regierungslehre)
Project period 15.10.2022 - 14.07.2024
Source of funding
Land Nordrhein-Westfalen

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