Hjalmar Bang Carlsen defends his PhD thesis at the Department of Sociology


Hjalmar Bang Carlsen 


Habits and flows in refugee solidarity activism: an interactional approach by digital means.

Time and venue

Room: CSS 1.1.18, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5
Time: 1.00 pm

The Department of Sociology will host a reception after the defence in room 16.1.62 at approx. 4 pm.
Prior to the defence, a paper copy of the dissertation is available for reading at the Department of Sociology, room 16.1.23.

Assessment Committee:

  • Associate Professor Sarah Swider, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (chair)
  • Professor Mario Diani, University of Trento, Italy
  • Associate Professor Stefania Milan, University of Amsterdam, The Nederlands 


This thesis analyses the habits, flows and cycles of activism within recent Danish refugee solidarity mobilization. The thesis contributes to the existing social movement literature by developing an interactional approach to social movements, especially the study of participation. It demonstrates how an interactional approach can exploit the affordances of digital traces left behind due to the movements mobilization on and through social media platforms, and the capabilities of computational models to classify textual large quantities of written communication. The thesis takes its methodological point of the departure in activists situated interactions. Each empirical article then makes an extension from the situation to more durable and large-scale patterns. The first article of four analyses in-situ interaction and demonstrates how patterns of interaction within social movement groups have consequences for the entire cycle of mobilization. The second article demonstrates the importance of patterns of interaction within social movement groups in determining the types of collective action that individual activists participate in. It focuses on how patterns of interaction encode themselves in the individual activists as habits of thought and action and as immediate flows of participation. The third, and final, empirical paper looks at how a specific situation, namely that of meeting a refugee, relates to future participation. It argues that meeting a refugee (a disadvantaged other) produces a demand for care in both the situation and beyond it, thereby intensifying the flow of participation. The last article in the thesis concerns an important methodological component of the interactional analysis, namely the transformation of text and textually mediated interaction into variables aimed to measure the content of interaction. This article critiques current validation practices within research using Topic Models and demonstrates the large consequences for measurement and statistical inference.