Resilience research 2 regional overview corr 3 March 2021

Comparative Overview on Hate Narratives in the Western Balkans and Turkey

A collection of research studies on hate narratives in the Western Balkans and Turkey is the result of research conducted in 2020 in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey within Resilience: Civil Society for Media Free of Hate and Disinformation, a regional project financially supported by the European Union and implemented by eight media development organizations coordinated by SEENPM. The collection includes a regional overview of findings.

In the conclusion, the regional overview notes that disinformation and hate narratives should not be taken lightly. In the narrative strategies revealed in both media and user content, we see clear features of racism, nationalism and intolerance of difference, labelling disagreement as treason, and misogyny. Across the region, hate narratives feed polarizations, perpetuate political turmoil and inflame animosities, the overview finds.

The content of hate narratives is similar across the region, mirroring the historically familiar negative labelling of the Other, the overview argues and explains that some platforms in the region engage generate and spread hate narratives and disinformation outright while others contribute to negative presentation of the “other” largely through focusing on negative events, publishing arbitrary statements, and failing to provide alternative views. In both cases, media outlets participate in the spiral of disinformation and hate, feeding distorted views and negative sentiments, the overview notes.

Finally, hate narratives escalate in user comments, permeated by xenophobic sentiments, stigmatization, prejudices and hostilities, distributed both by political bots and by a part of the general public.

While the hate narratives identified in this collection of research studies are not new, the really troubling part is that they have now been normalized to a very significant extent. Rather than being consistently condemned, they are often instrumentalized for political campaigns and increasingly seen as a regular part of public discussion, the overview concludes.

The regional overview also provides a series of suggestions for measures to counter hate narratives.

The results of the research are presented in several e-publications:

six national reports, published in the end of 2020,
regional overview ‘Hate Narratives in the Western Balkans and Turkey‘ by Sandra B. Hrvatin, Brankica Petković and Sanela Hodžić, published in March 2021,
e-book with the same title, ‘Hate Narratives in the Western Balkans and Turkey‘, which includes regional overview and six national reports, published in March 2021.

Electronic publications are available on the website of the SEENPM regional network, which is also the coordinator of the regional project.