Publications

R.Braun (2016) ‘Religious minorities and Resistance to Genocide: the collective rescue of Jews in the Netherlands during the Holocaust’,  American political science review 110(1).

This paper hypothesizes that religious minority groups are more likely to protect persecuted groups during episodes of mass killing. The author builds a geo-coded dataset of Jewish evasion in the Netherlands during the Holocaust to test this hypothesis. Spatial regression models of 93 percent of all Dutch Jews demonstrate a robust and positive correlation between the proximity to minority churches and evasion. While proximity to Catholic churches increased evasion in dominantly Protestant regions, proximity to Protestant churches had the opposite effect in Catholic parts of the country. County fixed effects and the concentric dispersion of Catholicism from missionary hotbed Delft are exploited to disentangle the effect of religious minority groups from local level tolerance and other omitted variables. This suggests that it is the local position of church communities -and not something inherent to any religion itself- that produces collective networks of assistance to threatened neighbors.

R.Braun and M. Genkin (2014) ‘Cultural resonance and the diffusion of suicide bombings: the role of collectivism’, Journal of conflict resolution 58(7). 

Why do some terrorist organizations, but not others, adopt suicide bombing as tactic? Dominant accounts focusing on organizational capacity, ideology, and efficacy leave certain elements of the phenomenon unexplained. The authors argue that key factor that influences whether a terrorist organization does or does not adopt suicide terrorism is cultural resonance. This is the idea that deep and specific cultural logics, which transcend religion and nationalism, enable and constrain the sorts of instrumental behaviors that can be utilized in the pursuit of group goals. The article investigates the role of a well-established cultural orientation of collectivism, which enables the authors to measure culture systematically. Case studies, survey data, and experimental research are used to illustrate that collectivism lowers the cost of adoption by facilitating the recruitment of attackers and reducing societal backlash against self-sacrifice. The authors then test for the relationship between collectivism and suicide-bombing adoption using an event history analysis framework, finding a strong correlation.

R.Braun and R. Koopmans (2014) ‘Watch the crowd! Bystander responses, trickle down politics and xenophobic mobilization’, Comparative political studies 47(7).

Social movement scholars have struggled with the question how abstract political opportunities affect activists without much knowledge of politics. We argue that the relationship between institutional opportunities and mobilization may take the form of trickle-down politics. In this view, activists are affected by political opportunities indirectly through the changes that political developments bring about in the immediate setting of protest. The political climate determines the distance between general public opinion and activists’ view on society. The smaller this distance, the more likely it becomes that activists receive positive feedback, which results in further mobilization. We investigate how activists are influenced by bystander responses that are evoked by the wider political context. Statistical models indeed indicate that spatio-temporal fluctuations in political opportunities and public sentiments are translated into mobilization after activists receive feedback from bystanders. This suggests that bystander responses play a crucial role in linking political opportunities to mobilization.

R.Braun (2011) ‘The diffusion of extreme-right violence in the Netherlands: distance and discourse’, Journal of peace research 48(6).

This article illuminates the unanticipated but intense waves of xenophobia that have swept through Western Europe over the last decade. The author makes use of a unique dataset and diffusion models to simultaneously investigate the geographical and temporal development of waves of racist violence in the Netherlands during the turbulent period 2001–03, when the country lost its reputation as a multicultural paradise. The results provide evidence for the fact that previous riots enhance the legitimacy of violence elsewhere, especially if they are visible in the mass media, resonate with public debates on immigration and take place in nearby regions. Opposing previous research on mobilization, the analysis suggests that proxies for ethnic competition, deprivation and political opportunity structures are not significantly related to the outbreak of violence; only population size adequately predicts where violence starts. Together these findings suggest that waves of xenophobia develop in two steps: they start in large cities and subsequently spread to nearby places through geographically clustered networks and to more distant counties once they become visible and resonate in the mass media, turning violence from local deviance into a supra-local phenomenon. This process sheds light on how scales of protest shift and explains why seemingly tolerant regions can suddenly become xenophobic hotbeds.

R.Braun and R. Koopmans (2010) ‘The diffusion of extreme-right violence in Germany: the role of social similarity’, European sociological review 26(1).

In this article we develop and test an encompassing theoretical framework for explaining the geographical and temporal spread of extreme right violence. This framework combines structural factors related to ethnic competition, social disintegration, and political opportunity structures, which make certain localities more prone to exhibit ethnic violence with diffusion variables that determine the degree to which ethnic violence diffuses across time and across localities. We employ an event history analysis of instances of racist violence in 444 German counties for the time period 1990–1995. In line with previous research we demonstrate that political opportunities, ethnic competition and social disorganization, media coverage, and the severity of previous violence are significant explanatory factors in the evolution of xenophobic violence. We further find that geographical distance does not affect the diffusion of ethnic violence when controlling for social similarity, which strongly raises the probability of diffusion across localities. This indicates that the effect of geographical distance that is found in many diffusion studies may actually be caused not by geographical proximity as such, but by the fact that proximate areas tend to be socially similar.

R.Braun and R.Vliegenthart (2009) ‘Violent fan fluctuations: a pooled time series analysis of hooliganism’, Mobilization 14(1).

In this article, we address the question of how diffusion mechanisms predict the level of violence among soccer fans. We embed possible causes of violent fan behavior in a theoretical framework of diffusion, as social movement scholars deploy it to study other instances of collective violence. Four possible diffusion explanations are examined: social status of transmitters (both other fan-sides as well as soccer players), status similarity of adopter and transmitter, direct ties as captured by geographical distance, and indirect ties as measured by media coverage. These explanations are tested for the occurrence of violence around soccer matches in the Netherlands during the period 2001-2005. We employ a pooled complementary log-log analysis of fourteen teams over 200 match weeks and control for repression, city size, and several match characteristics. We find considerable evidence for three of the four proposed explanations and demonstrate that aggressive play on the pitch, hooliganism by fan-sides with similar status, and media coverage are significant explanatory factors for the evolution of fan violence.

R.Braun and R.Vliegenthart (2008) ‘The contentious fans: The impact of unemployment, repression, media coverage and aggressive play on hooliganism’, International sociology 23(6).

This article poses the question of which macro-sociological explanations best predict the level of soccer supporters’ violence. By conceptualizing supporters’ violence as a form of contentious violence, four possible explanations are proposed: repression, media attention, unemployment and aggressive play on the pitch. These explanations are tested for the occurrence of violence around soccer matches in the Netherlands during the period 2001—5. The authors employ a Generalized Event Count model and multi-level logistic regression analysis and demonstrate that media attention, unemployment and aggressive play on the pitch are significant explanatory factors for the occurrence of violence. Police repression does not have a significant impact.

Jan Germen Janmaat and Robert Braun (2009) ‘Diversity and Postmaterialism as rival perspectives in accounting for social solidarity’, International journal of comparative sociology 50(1).

This article explores the empirical support for the two rival perspectives of diversity and postmaterialism, each of which predicts different patterns and trends of social solidarity in the Western world. The diversity perspective holds that ethnocultural heterogeneity undermines social solidarity, and consequently expects social solidarity to be weaker in more heterogeneous societies. In the diversity logic, social solidarity should have declined in Western societies as these societies have become more diverse due to continuous immigration. Postmaterialism theory, by contrast, posits a positive link between postmaterialism and social solidarity, and would expect social solidarity to have increased because of rising levels of postmaterialism across the Western world. This article found no relation between diversity and social solidarity at either the individual or the national level in cross-sectional analyses of WVS and EVS survey data. Neither was the diversity argument supported by trend data on opinions about the poor. The positive relations between postmaterialism and social solidarity on the other hand did confirm the postmaterialism perspective. Still, as postmaterialism contributed little to explaining the variance in social solidarity at the individual level and as there was no connection between postmaterialism and social solidarity at the macro-level, it can be questioned whether the solidaristic sentiments expressed by postmaterialists are sufficiently deep and lasting to underpin robust welfare policies.