Encouraging Societal Discourse: Developing a Political Discourse System

  • Subject:Contact hypothesis, Conflict management, Information technology, Political discourse
  • Type:Bachelor / Master Thesis
  • Supervisor:

    Dr. Ivo Benke

Problem Description

Our societal discourse is full of conflicts, hate, and disagreements which are rooted in political opinions, doctrines, and thoughts. These conflicts lead to the formation of like-minded parties and groups. The members tend to no longer exchange opinions with others. This behavior, in turn, leads to hardened fronts between conflicting parties that are irreconcilably opposed to each other. From a political perspective, this leads, very much simplified, on a large scale to major armed conflicts (e.g., the middle-east conflict). On a smaller scale, it can also be mapped onto political disputes in communities (e.g., construction of buildings) or societies (e.g., the issue of hostility toward foreigners).

This concept is described in research as contact hypothesis. The less contact individuals have with other opinions in disputes the more their aversion is. In turn, in disputes it is important to get in contact with other opinions and realities in order to be able to understand multiple perspectives. Consequently, one way to avoid frozen conflicts is by offering individuals the opportunity to experience other perspectives. Initiatives to do this in an analog way are typically very time-consuming and costly and do not reach the target groups (the conflicting parties). Information technology in form of mobile apps and services, enhanced by the power of social media, makes it possible to substantially scale up contact and information transfer.

Goal of this Thesis

The goal of this thesis is to develop a web- or mobile application that offers individuals suited information regarding conflict topics that affect them personally. Thereby, it provides the opportunity to experience other perspectives in an engaging way.

The system will be developed based on the contact hypothesis theory and with the design science research methodology. Finally, the system shall be evaluated in the field with real citizens. Here we have two potential options, either in Karlsruhe or with a non-profit organization in Israel.

Additional Information

A interesting part of this thesis is to see how the developed application works with real users. Therefore, two options exist with which we had previous projects already, a project with the city of Karlsruhe, or a potential project with the presitigous Technion in Israel and a local non-profit organization. The plan will be evaluated together with the student.


  • Programming experience (Python or Javascript)
  • Societal interest and motivation to speak with citizens
  • Proactive work style
  • Very good time management and organizational skills
  • English skills


If you are interested in this topic, please contact me directly via mail: ivo.benke∂kit.edu.