New Master Thesis Assignments

Are social media expressions on food scandals amplifying risk perception?


At regular intervals, there is much to do about a breach in the safety of a particular food product. In cases like that, often various stakeholders engage in a debate and voice their opinions. These views are expressed in newspapers and on television, but also on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.

While there is ample knowledge on the content of the newspaper coverage of incidents, scandals and crises, little is known about the contents of the discourse on social media.

Research question

The assignment is to develop a framework that is helpful in analysing the social media discourse on fraudulent hazardous situations, and to characterise the content of the discourse on a food scandal, such as Fipronil, on social media. Leading questions would be 1) who is playing an active role in the discourse, and 2) how their views can be characterised, e.g. in terms of frames or tone-of-voice. This should provide an answer to the question whether there is evidence for social amplification of risk.

The assignment relates to a research theme within the Department Psychology of Conflict, Risk and Safety that focuses on the role of social media in risk and crisis communication.

Students who prefer to conduct the study on another risk related topic, are invited to come and discuss the possibilities.

Research method

Harvesting of social media expressions and analysis of their contents.

Data- analysis

The data of this study will be analysed by qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques.

Literature suggestion

John Fellenor, Julie Barnett, Clive Potter, Julie Urquhart, J.D. Mumford & C.P. Quine (2017): The social amplification of risk on Twitter: the case of ash dieback disease in the United Kingdom, Journal of Risk Research, DOI: 10.1080/13669877.2017.1281339


Are you interested in this topic for your thesis? Please contact the theme coordinator Sven Zebel (