Our Methods

Our Methods

The Bridges Project always brings very different disciplines together. Our aim is to show that it’s only by viewing issues, and policy problems, through different lenses that you can get an accurate picture. Because we focus so much on understanding citizen motivation, we want to make sure that we are looking at what they say, what they do, and how they think from all available angles.

In the case of climate policy, we wanted to bring together quantitative approaches that can make the most of big data and data visualisation without losing the cultural, national, and often local specificity of various groups of people.

This is what we are doing.

Quantitative Study:

  1. We are doing a large-scale analysis of social media conversations across eight European countries. But in order to make sure that we didn’t pick up more noise than signals, we made sure to segment the public space and then to look at conversations across groups, communities, media and sectors.
  2. We used Twitter as our way into the institutional sphere, and then gradually widened the net to include the types social media that non-institutional actors tend to favour.
  3. We use analysts across these eight countries to execute deep-dives into some of the key conversations and explore the communities or networks that appear important, whether we had anticipated it or not. That way, we have both a big data map of the conversation (here is an early example of the themes in the EGD conversation in Brussels ; it needs a lot of refining, and above all interpreting but gives you an idea of what one of these might look like) but also a much more fine-grained understanding of the key actors within it. When we are talking about institutional actors, this is generally within easy reach. But when it comes to the two other circles, it is much harder to do – and yet it is crucial. We are getting there!
  4. This means that even the quantitative analysis part of the project is complemented by local, qualitative insights.
  5. We will have the first full maps of these conversations that will in turn give us an idea of the lines of polarisation, of the kind of dissent we might expect and of the groups and networks that will be driving it published by mid-January.
  6. And we will continue to monitor the conversation and update our findings for a year in the hope of being able to track the evolution of the debate and the tipping points that might make some actors more relevant than others, shed some light on the nature of protests, and how best to understand the eco-system of the debate.
  7. We will share all this with policy-makers in Brussels and across the eight case studies countries.

Qualitative Work:

We have commissioned eight short papers from public intellectuals based in each of our case study countries in order to provide us, as well as our readers and our partners, with a textured understanding of the context in which climate policy is being discussed and where dissent and consent for climate policy are evolving. These pieces are designed to give a sense of the deep cultural and social landscape that any Brussels-based discussion around climate and the environment will have to take into account and tap into in each country.

This is the cultural, social, historical hidden wiring – the national code – that anyone working politically for or against climate policy needs to understand. The brief for our authors was to explicitly write a piece on “everything you would need to know if you wanted to exploit the springs of a particular national culture to either increase dissent or consent around climate policy”. That encompasses everything from the national psyche around the relationship to nature, policy making biases and blind-spots, key and to shared historical, social, cultural reference points.

These pieces will also be published alongside the quantitative data in mid-January, and we will make sure that they set the context of our discussions.

Go back to the Main Project Page to find out more about the quantitative methodology and our partners.
If you’re interested in getting involved,  finding out more, or supporting us please get in touch.

Mapping dissent and securing consent for climate policy in a post-Covid-19 Europe

From the project

Funded by
the Open Society European Policy Institute, a part of the Open Society Foundations