Christian Bangel, Philip Faigle, Flavio Gortana, Andreas Loos, Fabian Mohr, Julia Speckmeier, Julian Stahnke, Sascha Venohr, Paul Blickle
Ever since Donald Trump’s election victory in the United States, many in Germany have been wondering if German society is also crisscrossed by invisible divides. It is a question that concerns the divide between urban and rural areas. Many cities and their immediate surroundings have become desirable locations to live in while some rural regions have fallen way behind. Broadband internet access or even just intact streets and bridges are hardly worth the expense anymore in some regions. Are these differences also reflected in the attitudes people hold? Could a situation develop in Germany similar to that in the U.S., where people speak derisively of the "flyover zone" when referring to the vast, rural American heartland? A situation in which those in the countryside view cities as being lawless pits free of morals? To answer these questions on the eve of the German general election, we have analyzed the data collected by two of the biggest and most comprehensive surveys available. Based on that survey data we take a look at some of the most popular prejudices about city dwellers and country folk. Some are true, others aren’t.
What makes this project innovative?
How prejudiced are you? Like in a quiz our interactive story makes it possible to attend to this question. After answering a question you get the solution immediately and see how other readers answered that question. That is why the story is much more than \'classic\' data vizualisations showing statistic patterns.
What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?
On top of a high-level reach we noticed that our story had an above average viral impact. The intensive use of the interactive elements led to an increase of the average length of time spent on the story.
Source and methodology
There are different models for differentiating municipalities that are subject to more urban influences from those with more of a rural character. Proximity to regions of economic activity is often considered as is the number of commuters. Because we were, for the purposes of this article, more concerned about lifestyles and social networks in the places where people live, we relied exclusively on the population of the cities and towns in question. We developed categories that we thought best reflected the different types of municipalities. Towns with a population of below 5,000 were considered to best reflect rural living.To understand more about how people in Germany think and act, we analyzed survey data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), collected by the German Institute for Economic Research, and from the German General Social Survey (ALLBUS), collected by GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences. For decades, both have been surveying the German population to learn more about the attitudes they hold. We asked the social researchers from both institutes to analyze their data in accordance with the population categories described above and to point out a few conspicuous differences between urban and rural areas.Our Sources: Index of all politically independent municipalities (with municipal administrations) in Germany; destatis; current as of March 2015 ALLBUS 1992–2016 Socio-Economic Panel 2015