Peer-reviewed journal articles

Testing causal inference between social media news reliance and (dis)trust of EU institutions with an Instrumental Variable Approach: Lessons from a null-hypothesis case

Given the well-documented negativity bias and attitudinal entrenchment associated with sharing and debating news in social media, a reasonable and already substantially investigated assumption is that those getting news about the EU mostly from social media would be more sceptical of its institutions than others. Empirical research on this topic has thus far largely deployed experimental and observational methods to investigate this assumption. We contribute to the existing literature with an Instrumental Variable Approach well-suited to establishing causal relationships in non-experimental data. However, we find no blanket causal relationship between relying on social media for news about the EU polity and becoming less trustful of its institutions. EU policies aiming to tackle negative effects of social media news consumption, therefore, need to be tailored to different demographic groups.

Recommended citation:
Moland, M. and Michailidou, A. (2023) ‘Testing causal inference between social media news reliance and (dis)trust of EU institutions with an Instrumental Variable Approach: Lessons from a null-hypothesis case’, Political Studies Review, doi/10.1177/14789299231183574

Opting for opt-outs? National identities and support for a differentiated EU

A large literature investigates individual support for European integration. However, support for differentiated integration has only recently become an important topic of study for public opinion scholars. Previous literature on this issue has not probed how differentiated integration is shaped by exclusively national identities, and whether the effect varies by how differentiation has been framed. Using survey data from 2020-21, I show that exclusively national citizens are most likely to support differentiated integration that allows for greater national autonomy and may oppose differentiation whose primary goal it is to facilitate further integration. However, I find no clear link between elite framing of differentiated integration and popular support for it. This raises important questions both about what kind of differentiated integration will enjoy public legitimacy and how cues shape support for EU differentiation.

Recommended citation: Moland, M. (2023) ‘Opting for opt-outs? National identities and support for a differentiated EU’, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, doi:10.1111/jcms.13478

Click here for replication code and data

Constraining dissensus and permissive consensus: Variations in support for core state powers

One of the key features of the post-Maastricht Treaty EU is the increasing contestation of its integration. This is often attributed to the EU’s increasing integration of politically salient policy areas core to state functioning, so-called “core state powers” (CSPs). These are often thought to have features making their integration particularly likely to be contested However, whether this equally applies to all core state powers, and whether those with exclusively national identities express generally identical support for all forms of CSP integration, is under-investigated. Using Eurobarometer data from 2019-2021, this article shows that those with no European identity are more likely to oppose CSP integration where it constrains member states’ domestic, rather than external, autonomy. This implies that an emerging constraining dissensus may be less of a challenge for the EU’s increasing foreign policy integration, but that it may hinder further integration of domestic core state power integration.

Recommended citation: Moland, M. (2022) ‘Constraining Dissensus and Permissive Consensus: Variations in Support for Core State Power Integration’, West European Politics, doi:10.1080/01402382.2022.2104052

Book chapters

‘United, we tweet’: Belonging and solidarity in German and Greek Twitter-spheres

The question of what characterises the European public sphere, and whether one exists in the first place, has been a topic of flourishing academic debate for many years. Concomitant with the rise of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, the focus has shifted to exploring how social media can be used to encourage a European public sphere that is fully transnational in nature. Our paper contributes to this literature by focusing on the transnationalisation of the public sphere in the context of European integration under conditions of crisis. Using a topic modelling approach, we map the topics of German and Greek Twitter-sphere surrounding the refugee crisis of 2015-2016 and the COVID-19 crisis of 2020-2021, exploiting the multilingual nature of Twitter discourses in the two countries to investigate transnationalization and Europeanization of discourses both in domestic-language and English-language tweets in the two countries. We thus bring new empirical analysis to the timely issue of whether the EU’s near-permanent state of crisis in the past and current decade has given rise to a de-differentiated public sphere, whereby Europeans use social media to debate the same topics while applying the same frames of reference, or social media instead continue to serve as an amplifier of national discourses and debates.

Recommended citation: Moland, M. and Michailidou, A. (forthcoming) ‘United, we tweet’: Belonging and solidarity in German and Greek Twitter-spheres. In: Fossum, JE and Batora, J. (eds) EU Differentiation and the Question of Domination: From the Financial Crisis to COVID-19, Routledge.

Working papers and pre-prints

News, Misinformation and Support for the EU: Exploring the Effect of Social Media as Polarising Force or Neutral Mediators

As social media platforms have become a staple news source for many EU citizens, we model repurposed Eurobarometer data from 27 EU member states to explore the possible polarising effects of social media use on public opinion about European integration. In a first step, we investigate whether social media use is correlated with decreased trust in the EU. In a second step, we probe the link between social media news consumption, fake news and polarisation by expanding the cross-sectional analysis with EU level analyses of the interaction between social media use and fake news. Our research paper finds no significant correlation between social media use and increased Euroscepticism at either step. We argue that this lack of significant social media effects at the aggregate level is an argument for why future research on social media effects should incorporate measures of these effects at both the individual and societal level. Thus, while our study focuses on a European context, it holds important lessons for future social media research outside of Europe too.

Conference presentations and invited talks


ECPR General Conference 2022

Moland, M. (2022) Does differentiation beget differentiation: Examining the link between exposure to and support for differentiation[Conference presentation]. ECPR General Conference, Innsbruck, Austria.

ECPR Standing Group on European Union Biannual Conference 2022

European Union Studies Association 17th Biannual Conference

Moland, M. (2022) Opting for opt-outs – Untangling the role of identity in shaping support for differentiated integration[Conference presentation]. EUSA 17th Biannual Conference, Miami, Florida.