Bail and Merhout's Study of Radicalization Covered by National Media

Chris Bail, Douglas and Ellen Lowey Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, and Friedolin Merhout, PhD candidate in Sociology, published a study using Google search data to examine the link between discrimination and radicalization. The paper “Using Internet search data to examine the relationship between anti-Muslim and pro-ISIS sentiment in U.S. counties", co-authored with Peng Ding (UC Berkeley), was published open access by Science Advances.


In the paper, Bail and Merhout use data on the rate of online searches exhibiting bias against Muslims and support for the Islamic State (ISIS) to study one potential mechanism of radicalization at the community level. They find that anti-Muslim searches are strongly associated with pro-ISIS searches—particularly in communities with high levels of poverty and ethnic homogeneity. The study has been picked up by media outlets such as NBC News.