David Eric John Herbert's picture

David Eric John Herbert

Professor, Professor in Sociology
  • E-mailDavid.Herbert@uib.no
  • Phone+47 79 14 91 57+44 7914915783
  • Visitor Address
    Rosenbergsgaten 39
    5015 Bergen
  • Postal Address
    Postboks 7802
    5020 Bergen

My research interests focus on migration and the ethnic and religious diversity and the social challenges and opportunities created (e.g. multiculturalism, populism, Islamophobia) in contemporary cities. I have worked on projects in Belfast, London, Copenhagen, Oslo, Kristiansand, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Krakow and Leipzig. I have used several methods to investigate this field, including surveys, interviews, ethnography and social media analysis. Two recently completed projects are Cultural Conflict 2.0 (https://cc2.mediated.eu/) - which examined how social media reshapes social relations in cities in Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands - and Reaching for a New Sense of Connection (https://research.kent.ac.uk/understandingunbelief/research/research-projects-2/herbert-and-bullock/), which investigated how young people with no religion are finding new ways to connect with each other around existential and political questions in ten European cities. I am a member of the research groups on Migration, Environment and Development and on Welfare, Inequality and the Lifecourse.

Recent Conference and Invited Presentations:

'Support for and Opposition to Populist Right Anti-Immigration Stances in Austria and the UK: Results of a New Survey.' 15th Conference of the European Sociological Association; 2021-08-31 - 2021-09-03

Troublesome entanglements: religion, politics and gender in contemporary Poland. Dynamics of Religious Change: Panels by the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics”, WWU at the 4th Annual Conference of the European Academy of Religion (EuARe); 2021-08-30 - 2021-09-02

‘Social Media, Religion and the City’ invitation to present at Kristiansand City Council ‘The City for All’ week, 4 Feb 2019.

‘The Conditions for the Politicisation of Religion in Europe and the Middle East’, NATO Defence Academy Rome, 5 April 2018 and 23 October 2018

‘Spatial Justice in the Digital City’ Spatial Justice in the City workshop jointly convened by CRESC OU and CUCR Goldsmiths and funded by the ESRC, June 30th– July 1, 2016 Open University, Milton Keynes.


My teaching interests are in urban sociology, migration and integration, race and ethnicity, religion, digital and mixed methods. The three courses that I currently lead are: SOS119 Global Cities: an introduction to urban sociology for the 21st century, MET900 Qualitative Digital Methods for Social Scientists and SOS120 Digital Sociology (new for Spring 2023). I also contribute to SOS100 Introduction to Sociology, SOS101 Classic and Modern Sociological Theory, and SOS321 Migration, Integration and Mobility (new for Autumn 2022). I supervise dissertations at both Bachelor and Master levels, and I am overseeing PhD completions from my previous job at Kingston University London.


  • Show author(s) (2022). The Diversity of Nonreligion: Meaning-Making, Activism and Towards a Theory of Nonreligious Identity and Group Formation. 21 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Social Media and Social Order. De Gruyter Open.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Religion, Conspiracy Thinking, and the Rejection of Democracy: Evidence From the UK. Politics and Governance. 229-242.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Troublesome entanglements: religion, politics and gender in contemporary Poland.
  • Show author(s) (2021). The end of ‘Welcome Culture’? How the Cologne assaults reframed Germany’s immigration discourse. European Journal of Communication.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Support for and Opposition to Populist Right Anti-Immigration Stances in Austria and the UK: Results of a New Survey.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Social Media and Spatial Justice: Instagram, place and recursive logics if exclusion in Northern European cities. 18 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2020). Reaching for a new sense of connection: soft atheism and ‘patch and make do’ spirituality amongst nonreligious European millennials. Culture and Religion. 21 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2019). “When You Live Here, That’s What You Get”: Other-, Ex-, and Non-Religious Outsiders in the Norwegian Bible Belt. Religions. 1-16.
  • Show author(s) (2018). The Legacy of the Good Friday Agreement Northern Irish Politics, Culture and Art after 1998. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Introduction. 1-14.
  • Show author(s) (2018). Cultural Conflict 2.0. .
  • Show author(s) (2018). Attitudes: Tendencies and Variations. 17 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2016). Social Media and Multicultural City: A North European Comparison.
  • Show author(s) (2016). Political Culture 2.0? Religion, Migration, Social Media and the Public Sphere in Denmark and Norway 2006-16.
  • Show author(s) (2016). On Lefebvre and Instagram: Spatial Justice in the Network Society.
  • Show author(s) (2016). Causes of the Dutch multicultural reversal: A cautionary tale about being too democratic in the media age. 13 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2015). Theorising Religious Republicisation in Europe: Religion, Media and Public Controversy in the Netherlands and Poland . 17 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2015). Theorising Cultural Conflict 2.0: a Lefebvrian approach to the dynamics of religio-cultural conflict.
  • Show author(s) (2015). The Mediatisation of Cultural Conflict in N European Multicultural Cities.
  • Show author(s) (2014). Religion, Detraditionalization and Backlashes Against Multiculturalism in Northern Europe: a Comparison of Dutch, Northern Irish and English Cases .
  • Show author(s) (2014). Racism in the Netherlands: a social scientific analysis of the dynamics of the Dutch Multicultural Backlash . Frame Journal of Literary Studies.
  • Show author(s) (2014). Gay Men’s Interpretation of the Bible. III: Islam. . In:
    • Show author(s) (2014). Encyclopedia of the Bible and its reception : 9 : Field - Gennesaret.
  • Show author(s) (2013). Social media and religious change. Walter de Gruyter (De Gruyter).
  • Show author(s) (2013). Religion and Civil Society: theoretical reflections. 33 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2013). Paradise Lost? Islamophobia, Post-liberalism and the Dismantling of State Multiculturalism in the Netherlands: the role of mass and socal media. 24 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2013). Introduction: Social Media and Religious Change. 14 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2013). Creating Community Cohesion: religion, media and multiculturalism.
  • Show author(s) (2013). Arguing about religion: BBC World Service Internet forums as sites of postcolonial encounter. Journal of Postcolonial Writing. 519-538.
  • Show author(s) (2012). What Kind of Global Conversation? Participation, democratic deepening a nd public diplomacy through BBC World Service online forums: an examina tion of mediated global talk about religion and politics. 19 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Spectacular and Banal Activism:Islam, Islamophobia, and the role of social and mass media in Dutch culture wars.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Religion, Mediatization and Politics: Islam and crises of multiculturalism in the UK, Netherlands and France.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Media and the Collapse of Dutch Multiculturalism: a cautionary tale about being too democratic in the media age.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Diasporas and diplomacy: cosmopolitan contact zones at the BBC World Service, 1932-2012. Routledge.
  • Show author(s) (2012). Civil Society. 18 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2011). Why has religion gone public again? Towards a theory of media and religious re-publicization.
  • Show author(s) (2011). Theorising Religion and Media in Contemporary Societies: an Account of Religious "Publicisation". European Journal of Cultural Studies. 626-648.
  • Show author(s) (2011). Editorial: Special Issue on Religion, Media and Socio-cultural Change. European Journal of Cultural Studies. 601-609.
  • Show author(s) (2011). A Sociological Perspective on the Public Signficance of Religion: from Secularization to 'Publicization'. 30 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2010). The Mumbai attacs and diasporic nationalism: BBC World Service online forums as conflict, contact and comfort zones. South Asian Diaspora. 109-129.
  • Show author(s) (2010). The Impact of the Nordic network for the mediatization of religion and culture on media studies and sociology of religion in the Nordic context.
  • Show author(s) (2010). Secularisms as cultural and political formations: their implications for the co-existence of religions in contemporary multi-religious civil societies.
  • Show author(s) (2010). Religion in the Public Sphere: an Appraisal of Theory.
  • Show author(s) (2010). Religion in Public Life: Must Faith Be Privatised? Religion, State and Society. 427-430.
  • Show author(s) (2010). Public Sphere or Public Screen? An Analysis of Forums Discussing Religion Linked to BBC World Service News and Current Affairs Programmes.
  • Show author(s) (2010). Pragmatic Pluralism: a Critical Evaluation of 'Faith' in UK Government Community Cohesion Policies 2001-10.
  • Show author(s) (2010). 'European Enlargement, Secularisation and Religious Republication in Central and Eastern Europe'. 17 pages.

More information in national current research information system (CRIStin)

Some recent publications:

2022 co-edited with Fisher-Høyrem, Stefan; Social Media and Social Order. De Gruyter Open (ISBN 9788366675605) https://doi.org/10.2478/9788366675612

2022 with Josh Bullock 'The Diversity of Nonreligion: Meaning-Making, Activism and Towards a Theory of Nonreligious Identity and Group Formation' in A. Zwilling and H. Årsheim eds. Nonreligion in Late Modern Societies. Institutional and Legal Perspectives pp. 151-171 https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-92395-2


2021 with Wigger, I, and Yendell, A. 'The end of ‘Welcome Culture’? How the Cologne assaults reframed Germany’s immigration discourse' European Journal of Communication (London), Vol.37 (1), p.21-47 https://doi.org/10.1177/02673231211012173

2020 ‘Social Media and Spatial Justice: Instagram, Status Competition and the Deepening of Urban Exclusion in Northern Europe’ Chapter 2 in Spatial Justice in the City ed. Sophie Watson (London: Routledge), see: https://books.google.no/books/about/Spatial_Justice_in_the_City.html

2019 “Religion and The Dynamics of Right Wing Populism in Poland: Impacts, Causes, Prospects”. Religion and Society in Central and Eastern Europe 12 (1): 23-37. doi: https://doi.org/10.20413/rascee.2019.12.1.23-37

2019 ‘Legacies of 1998: What Kind of Social Peace Has Developed in Northern Ireland? Social Attitudes, Inequality and Territoriality’ in Charles Armstrong, David Herbert and Jan Eric Mustad The Legacy of 1998: Northern Irish Politics, Culture and Art after the Good Friday Agreement. (London: Palgrave MacMillan, Compromise After Conflict Series)

2019 ‘A Different Dynamic? Explaining Prejudice Against Muslims in the Russian Federation: Islamophobia or Internalized Racial Hierarchy?’  EEGA Leibniz Science Campus Special Issue 1: 45-53.

2019 with Fisher-Høyrem, S. ‘“When You Live Here, That’s What You Get”: Other-, Ex-, and Non-Religious Outsiders in the Norwegian Bible Belt’ Religions 2019, 10, 611; doi:10.3390/rel10110611

2018 with Janna Hansen, ‘‘You are no longer my flesh and blood’: Social Media and the Negotiation of a Hostile Media Frame by Danish ‘Reverts’ to Islam’ Nordic Journal of Religion and Society. 31 (1): 4-21 (anonymous peer reviewed)

2018 ‘Perspectives: Theorizing Mediatized Civic Settings and Cultural Conflict in Scandinavia’ in K. Kundby ed. Contesting Religion: The Media Dynamics of Cultural Conflict in Scandinavia (New York: De Gruyter) 155-170 (anonymous peer reviewed)

2018 with Janna Hansen, ‘Life in the Spotlight: How Danish Muslims Cope with a Hostile Media Frame’ in K. Kundby ed. Contesting Religion: The Media Dynamics of Cultural Conflict in Scandinavia (New York: De Gruyter) 205-223 (anonymous peer reviewed)

2018 with Mia Lövheim, Haakon Jernsletten, Knut Lundby, Stig Hjarvard, ‘Attitudes to Religious Diversity: A Survey and Comparisons’ in K. Kundby ed. Contesting Religion: The Media Dynamics of Cultural Conflict in Scandinavia (New York: De Gruyter). 33-50 (anonymous peer reviewed)

Why Are Some Are More Equal than Others? Analysing Attitudes to a Changing European Asylum Landscape through the case of the UK: Hierarchies of Preference and the Outsourcing of Asylum Responsibilities (with Alex Yendell, Leipzig University)

This small project grows out of discussions within the research group on migration, integration and mobility (MIM), and will comprise a national representative survey conducted in the UK in September or October 2022 and analysis of digital media discourse (social and news media) conducted in English language sources (underway) and for comparison in Norwegian, German and Danish.

The European landscape for refugees and asylum seekers is changing fast. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered a new wave of Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children, with the EU waiving visa requirements to smooth the path for displaced people. However, this reception stands in marked contrast to that of refugees from the war in Syria in 2014-15 in many cases, and from other recent conflicts (De Witte 2022), which reflect trends towards the securitization and criminalisation of asylum seekers by governments across Europe:     

Migrants, including asylum seekers, who do manage to enter irregularly Council of Europe member states are often criminalised, locked up in prison-like conditions, and expelled as quickly as possible – even to countries where they risk persecution and torture. (Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, 2022).

Differential treatment of asylum seekers has produced some stark contrasts, from African students fleeing Ukraine ‘trapped at the borders, prevented from boarding trains (by Ukrainians) or from entering neighbouring countries (by Polish border guards)’ to ‘Middle Eastern refugees on the Belarusian border [who] face the option of crossing into war-torn Ukraine or being beaten back by Polish guards’ (ODI 2022 a, b). Such border scenes arguably make visible troubling forces at work across Europe, suggesting that a ‘racialized [and arguably gendered] hierarchy’ of preference shapes government asylum policies and informs the attitudes of border officials (ODI 2022b). Hence our first research question: how far does differential treatment of asylum seekers in policy and practice reflect broader public opinion? (RQ1)

The post-Brexit UK provides an interesting ‘laboratory’ in which to address this question. As a Council of Europe member, the UK is bound by the same obligations to asylum seekers as other European governments but has used asylum policy to mark post-Brexit difference, requiring Ukrainians to apply for a visa (though under more lenient conditions than other applicants). More radically, the UK has struck a deal with Rwanda for the total offshoring of the processing and resettlement of refugees arriving by irregular routes - with the first deportations thwarted only by the late intervention of the European Court. This policy has sharply divided public opinion in the UK. A YouGov poll (2022a) shows 43% support (27% strongly) the Rwanda asylum scheme with 40% opposed (28% strongly). However, it is unclear how well understood the policy or the principles at stake are, and why people support or oppose it. While the UK is not alone in seeking to offshore asylum processing (BBC 2021), offshoring resettlement is unprecedented in Europe, hence RQ2: in what ways and on what grounds do the public support or oppose offshoring asylum policy?

Contrary to these policy trends, explicit and declarative attitudes to immigration in the UK have become more positive (as in other Western European societies) in recent years, with positive answers to ‘does immigration make the UK a worse or better place to live?’ rising above 50% in 2018, up from just over 30% in 2014 (ODI 2022b), and those believing that that UK should accept fewer refugees falling from 20% in 2019 to 10% in April 2022 (YouGov 2022b). More work is needed to tease out the factors shaping individual attitudes and the process of public opinion formation, and to investigate whether and to what extent the apparently racialized hierarchy of preference visible in policy and media discourses (Bayoumi 2022) reflects explicit attitudes or, in contrast, is based on tacit, implicit, and non-declarative ethnic attitudes and racial stereotypes. We will complement the survey by analysing news media discourse (using Media Cloud) and social media debate on Twitter and Facebook (using NodeXL) to compare with other countries (e.g. Norway, Germany, Denmark).

The work builds on a survey last August also co-funded by småforsk, which innovated in combining psycho-social factors (Yendell) with social media use and discursive contact factors (Herbert) to explain over half the variation in support for far-right attitudes and conspiracy thinking in a representative sample from the UK and Austria. Findings were presented at the ESA last August with an article in peer review for Politics and Governance, and two further articles in preparation. The new survey will benefit from scales developed through this survey, lead to further publications and deepen collaboration within the department and internationally, strengthening networks for new research bids to national and international sources.

Recent Completed Projects

Cultural Conflict 2.0  - https://cc2.mediated.eu/

Reaching for a New Sense of Connection - https://research.kent.ac.uk/understandingunbelief/research/research-proj...