An interdisciplinary monthly research seminar featuring the work of visiting scholars from renowned universities around the world.
1. Ansgar Hudde (visiting at AxPo in September-October 2023), University of Cologne
Friday, 22 September 2023, 11:30-13:00, room K.008 at Sciences Po (1 Place Saint-Thomas d'Aquin 75007 Paris)
Where Do Local Voting Patterns Mirror the National Vote? A Micro-scale Study on Party Political Segregation in Germany
Joint AxPo/CRIS seminar
Edmond Préteceille (CRIS), discussant
This paper analyses the spatial segregation in political voting behavior at the voting district (“neighborhood”) level in Germany. The degree of segregation versus integration is gauged by the extent to which local voting patterns diverge from overall, national-level voting patterns. If a neighborhood’s voting pattern resemble Germany's overall pattern, there is no segregation; conversely, if the neighborhood’s pattern strongly deviates from national trends, segregation is deemed high.
Small-scale political segregation matters because those residing in politically segregated areas are less likely to experience and “feel” the country’s general, political climate in their everyday life. This could lead to a sense of alienation from politics.
I analyze voting district-level results from the German federal elections from 1983 to 2021. With ~65,000 voting districts in 2021, this allows an extremely granular perspective.
Findings uncover two main patterns. Firstly, Eastern German neighborhoods typically exhibit higher levels of local segregation compared to those in Western Germany. Secondly, the relationship between segregation and the rural-urban continuum is U-shaped. Local voting patterns in rural areas and in large cities strongly deviate from national patterns. On the contrary, the voting patterns in mid-sized towns, ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, better represent Germany’s overall voting patterns. Further, the analyses identify additional patterns and deviations from these broader trends, such as differences between Bundesländer or outlying city-clusters like traditional university towns.
This paper contributes to broader discussions on social cohesion, political polarization, and the urban-rural divide. Notably, it puts a spatial category at the center, which is often overlooked in urban-rural discussions: mid-sized towns.
[AxPo PolEconSoc seminar]
2. Ia Eradze (visiting at AxPo in September 2023), Institute for Social and Cultural Research, Ilia State University, Georgia
Monday, 25 September 2023, 12:30-14:30, room K.011 at Sciences Po
Crypto Currency Mining in Georgia: Revisiting Sovereignty
This research project aims to look at the changing forms of state sovereignty amidst the booming crypto mining business in Georgia. It analyses motives, power struggles and dimensions behind crypto mining from a political economic state theory perspective. National currencies have historically been related to the idea of the nation state and national identity, and public monopoly over money has been an inseparable part of statehood over the centuries. While crypto currencies limit monetary sovereignty and state capacities in terms of monetary policy, the key question is: why does a sovereign state enable and facilitate crypto mining on its territory? Therefore, this study analyses crypto currency - state sovereignty nexus, embedded within geopolitics and North-South power relations, as well as a (re)configuration of relations among the government, central bank, crypto industry, banks and the society.
3. Raymond La Raja (November-December 2023), University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Tuesday, 21 November 2023, 11:00-12:30
Which candidates for the US Congress benefit from small political donors?
Joint AxPo/CEVIPOF seminar
Noam Titelman (AxPo/CEVIPOF), discussant
Concerns about the outsized influence of wealthy donors in the United States gives hope that the surge in small donors to political campaigns might improve the political system. In this paper we assess which candidates for the US Congress are likely to benefit from the population of small donors. We explain both the structural features of the political system and candidate characteristics associated with increases in small donations. Our analysis highlights the expressive nature of making political contributions. Candidates benefit from small donors to the extent they can attract media attention and evoke strong emotions linked to identitarian loyalties, including partisanship, ideology, and gender. This dynamic applies to all donors, but is especially true for small donors because they are less embedded in elite partisan networks, which push contributions toward candidates favored by the party leadership. One consequence is that ideologically extreme candidates tend to benefit disproportionately from small donations. In the Democratic Party, women candidates tend to benefit due to a very high proportion of women small donors.
4. Nina Wang (January 2024), University of Regina
Tuesday, 16 January 2024, 14:00-16:00
Motivators and Consequences of Moralization Across the Political Spectrum
Joint AxPo/Medialab seminar
Lou Safra (CEVIPOF), discussant
5. Dylan Riley (February-March 2024), University of California, Berkeley
Thursday, 8 February 2024, 12:30-14:00
Special Paths: Germany and the US in Comparative Perspective
Joint AxPo/CEE seminar
Catarina Leão (AxPo/CEE), discussant
6. Avishai Benish (February 2024), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Regulating Hybridity in Welfare Governance
7. Sönke Ehret (March-April 2024), University of Lausanne
Tuesday, April 23, 2024, 11:00-12:30
Virtual Opium for the Masses? The Impact of Online Social Status on Real-World Political Preferences and Attitudes
Joint AxPo/CEVIPOF seminar
Patrick Le Bihan (CEVIPOF), discussant
8. Asa Maron (April 2024), University of Haifa
Friday, 26 April 2024, 10:00-12:00
Fictional fiscal expectations: Calculating social investments’ fiscal value as a ‘soft’ form of state financialization
Joint AxPo/CSO seminar
9. Flori So (May-June 2024), Lund University
Thursday, 16 May 2024, 12:30-14:00
When Aren’t Thoughts and Prayers Enough? Affective Polarization and Republican Partisan Support for Gun Control Legislations
Joint AxPo/CEE seminar
In American politics, there is perhaps no other issue that can generate more unanimous emotional response, but more divergent policy response, than the problem of gun violence. In this paper, we examine the potential for the topic of gun control legislation to polarize as well as de-polarize the American electorate in an affective manner. We argue that despite their desire to reduce gun violence, Republican voters who are affectively polarized would not only perceive the restriction of gun ownership as an ineffective solution to reducing gun violence, but they also think restricting gun ownership is morally repugnant. At the same time, we argue that if partisans do follow party cues in adopting their policy preferences, then the moralization of policy positions can also be de-polarizing. That is, when presented with pro-gun legislation messages from co-party elites, particularly those with a moral undertone, Republican voters perceive Democrat partisans in a more favorable light. To test our argument, we field an original survey experiment to Republican and Democrat voters in the US about their support for gun control legislation and measure the extent to which moral messages from co-partisan sources, but supportive of out-partisans’ positions, can reduce affective polarization among partisan respondents.
10. Pierre-Christian Fink (June 2024), Harvard University
Thursday, 13 June 2024, 12:30-14:00
Lost in the Manhattan Triangle: Why Efforts to Render the International Payment System More Equitable Have Failed
Joint AxPo/CEE seminar
11. Christopher Bail (June 2024), Duke University
Tuesday 18 June 2024, 14:00-16:00
Creating a Social Media Accelerator to Reduce Political Polarization
Joint AxPo/Medialab seminar
Sylvain Parasie, discussant
Scholars who study social media and polarization face a range of challenges including a lack of access to high quality data and an inability to conduct experiments in real world settings. Because of these challenges, most research examines the small amount of data that social media companies make available to scholars in a descriptive manner. This situation severely limits the capacity of researchers to examine how the design of social media systems shapes human behavior. I propose a new paradigm for social media research wherein scholars collaborate to create their own social media platforms for scientific research. I present two recent field experiments conducted on such platforms to demonstrate their promise. The first field experiment examines how anonymity shapes political polarization. The second field experiment examines how gendered avatars shape political persuasion. I conclude by offering insights about how these types of platforms could be scaled to examine a much broader range of topics via an open-source software collaboration between a large group of researchers, not unlike CERN.
Past AxPo seminars
1. Oona Hathaway
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
Co-sponsored with Ecole de droit – Sciences Po Law School
Yale University, Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law, Yale Law School
Department of Political Science
Professor of International and Area Studies, MacMillan Center, Yale University
Beatriz Botero Arcila, discussant
Title: The Rise of Private Data
2. Jacob Hacker
Yale University, Department of Political Science
Monday, October 10, 2022 | 15:00-16:30 in K.008
Jan Rovny, discussant
Title: The Density Paradox: How Rising Geographic Inequality is Reshaping American Democracy
3. Susi Geiger
Friday, November 25, 2022 | 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – co-organized with the CSO, Sciences Po
Location: Salle Goguel, 27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Lochlann Quinn School of Business, University College Dublin
Title: In the Name of Transparency: Organizing European Pharmaceutical Markets through Post-Political Struggles
The controversies surrounding the heavily redacted contracts between the European Commission and COVID-19 vaccine producers have highlighted ‘transparency’ as a hotly debated concept in the European pharmaceutical market. In this presentation, we show that the intersection between the pharmaceutical market and concerns about affordable medicines has come to depend on variable meanings of the notion of transparency, as mobilized by diverse market organizers. While being a guiding principle behind the construction of the European pharmaceutical sector, market transparency was implemented through devices that enacted specific definitions of transparency and thus produced distinct market organizations over time. We identify three visions of transparency that became translated into distinct organizational arrangements of the pharmaceutical market: transparency for states (until 1990), transparency for corporations (1990-2010), and transparency for state coalitions (since 2010). Our article sheds light on how struggles over the definition of transparency play a crucial role in the organization of markets. We also discuss why engaging in such controversies has become increasingly important for those contesting the market status quo in a post-political context, emphasizing the ‘not-so-post-political’ potential of these debates.
4. Ugo Rossi
Gran Sasso Science Institute, Italy
Thursday 02/02/2023, 17:00-19:00 – co-organized with Cities are Back in Town seminar series, Urban School, Sciences Po
In Room K.011
Discussant: Tommaso Vitale, Associate Professor of Sociology, CEE, Dean of the Urban School, Sciences Po
Title: The return of the urban state: The political construction of technology-driven economies
Within current debates on the ‘return of the state’, the state is regarded as an almost absent actor in contemporary capitalism. In these debates, the state intervenes in the economy as an agent of regulation in a context of purported crisis of the neoliberal order, while its multiple role (direct and indirect) in tech-based urbanised economies remains overlooked. In this paper, I analyse the key role of the state in tech-driven economies. Drawing on my research, I explore the actually existing role of the state in urbanised knowledge economies, highlighting that the state does not intervene in a traditional Keynesian sense of regional economic planning, but through a ‘strategic urbanisation’ of its conduct. In recent years, mainstream urban economists have highlighted place-specific endowments such as cultural diversity, environmental amenities, and the clustering of talent as the main factors attracting competitive businesses and highly skilled human capital in one place rather than in another. In my paper, I attempt to show how entrepreneurial urban economies are strategically constructed through a complex ‘politics of operations’ (financial, cultural, logistics) enacted by both the local and the national states. In the concluding part of my talk, I discuss the implications of my conceptual perspective for the analysis of the French Tech Initiative.
5. Lisa Suckert
Economic Sociology, MPIfG
Monday 06/03/2023 15:00-16:30 – with the CSO
Location : K.011
Discussant: Daniel Benamouzig, CNRS Research Director, Associate Professor, Center for the Sociology of Organizations (CSO), Sciences Po
Title: (Re)Imagining the good economy: Economic ideals in the age of globalized, financialized, digitalized, and de-carbonized capitalism
What does a desirable economic future look like? By which economic ideal and traditions should it be governed? Based on Lisa Suckert’s previous work on economic imaginaries of the future, national economic identity and economic critique, she provides first insights into a new project. It explores how four major capitalist developments - globalization, financialization, digitalization and de-carbonization - have been discussed as opportunity or threat in different national European contexts. By capturing and comparing the explanations about why these developments need to be enabled or constraint, the analysis reveals the underlying economic ideals (e.g. growth, equality, employment,innovation, stability, national autonomy) that serve to evaluate, what a good economy is. As it depicts how these economic ideals have changed or remained stable over time and to what extent we can observe national varieties of “the good economy”, the analysis contours the potential and challenges for not only re-imagining but re-making the economy on a European scale. In this vein, the presented research contributes to understanding the ideational infrastructure of capitalism in the 21st century.
6. Alexander Nützenadel
Professor of social and economic history at Humboldt University since 2009. Currently the Gerda Henkel Visiting Professor at LSE.
Monday 27/03/2023 13:30-15:00 - with the Centre d'Histoire, Sciences Po (CHSP)
Discussant: Paul-André Rosental, Director of the Center of History at Sciences Po
Title: The Long Shadow of 1931: Regulatory Cycles in Comparative Perspective (1930-1980)
Since the 2008 financial crisis, the question of how to regulate banks effectively has received a great deal of scholarly attention. While economic research usually refers to cross-country comparisons, the long-term evolution of regulatory systems is rarely examined. This paper examines one of the longest regulatory cycles in history, triggered by the banking crisis of the 1930s. It explores financial regulation in 12 countries (Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Luxembourg, USA, Japan, Argentina, Greece) between 1920 and 1980. We combine a qualitative study of legal instruments with a quantitative approach, based on the reconstruction of an overall regulatory index. Moreover, we use balance sheet data from commercial banks to measure changing risk exposure of credit banks and financial markets over time. The insolvency risk of large commercial banks is measured with a calculation of the Z-score. Based on this empirical research, the project combines a comparative analysis of national regulatory regimes with a historical perspective. This will allow to answer a variety of fundamental questions: Was national financial regulation based on path dependencies? How important was regime competition? Did regulatory systems converge over time? Has international fragmentation increased risk exposure of banks? What are the political factors that drive regulatory cycles?
7. Dieter Plehwe
Senior Professor in Political Science, WZB
Monday 17/04/2023 from 13:00-14:30 – co-organized with CEE, Sciences Po
Discussant: Andreas Eisl, Jacques Delors Institute Research Fellow; MaxPo/CEE/MPIfG/University of Cologne PhD graduate
Title: Big Tech (and) Neoliberalism
Lately, new chapters have been written on the seemingly endless history of “the end of neoliberalism”. Following the Global Financial Crisis and the covid public health crisis we now experience digital capitalism’s return to some industrial policy, some new focus on public services, some strategic protectionism, much if not all at least partly due to the geopolitics of the new rivalry with China. Does all this indeed signal the age of post-neoliberalism has begun at last? At the level of currently leading corporations furthermore, the control and even ownership of markets by the GAFAM+ companies (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft plus Chinese competitors like Alibaba) have been suggested by Philip Staab (2019) to break with neoliberal concepts of market neutrality and a commitment to market competition and market expansion (“free market movement”). In my talk I will try to unpack (some of) these claims by way of re-visiting the historical evolution and a variety of neoliberal approaches to markets and competition in order to assess the extent to which present developments need to be considered serious challenges to neoliberal order. I will also observe the strategies GAFAM+ corporations in opposition to new regulatory approaches (“strategy mobility”) in an effort to observe and better understand present (global) political contestations affecting and driven by these strategic actors.
8. Sigal Alon
Friday 05/05/2023 from 11:30-13:00 – co-organized with CRIS, Sciences Po
The Weinberg Chair in Sociology of Stratification and Inequality; Head of The B. I. Cohen Inst. for Public Opinion Research
Tel Aviv University
Discussant: Ettore Recchi, Sociology, Center for Research on Social Inequalities (CRIS), Sciences Po
Title: Shifts in Work Orientation during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The world of work has been severely afflicted by COVID-19. To deal with the immense employment crisis, unemployment benefits were extended in many countries. This raised the classical question of whether this support would decrease the motivation of the unemployed to search for work. The answer to this conundrum is deeply rooted in sociological thought about work centrality and the meaning of work in our life. Is the motivation to work limited to the quest to ensure livelihood, or is work a primary source of dignity, self-image, fulfillment, and self-realization? How has these factors been affected by the pandemic? This study takes advantage of the COVID-19 disruption to assess shifts in work centrality and work values during the extended coverage of unemployment benefits. The investigation consolidates pre-COVID-19 surveys of work orientations in Israel with a COVID-19-era assessment. The results demonstrate that this shock has been powerful enough to put individuals’ work orientation to the test and made them reconsider the meaning of work in their life. Overall, the surge in work centrality during the pandemic and the gravitation of values toward job security reflect the universal trauma caused by the sharp decrease in employment certainty.
9. Ashley Mears
Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Boston University
Friday 02/06/2023 from 11:30-13:00 – co-organized with CRIS, Sciences Po
Location: Salle du Conseil (5th floor), Sciences Po, 13 rue de l’Université 75007 Paris
Discussant: Achim Edelmann, Assistant Professor in Computational Social Science, Medialab, Sciences Po
Title: How Algorithms Shape Culture: Lessons on Authenticity from Elite Content Creators
Algorithms shape culture, but how? Algorithms are now so intertwined with markets, workplaces, and media that scholars describe them as part of our social systems of meaning-making. This project examines how algorithms shape the practical work of making culture. I draw from an immersive ethnography of content creators who engineer entertainment videos to go viral on social media. Algorithms, I find, discipline creative workers into making attention-grabbing content, often transforming their artistic visions of authenticity. First, creators learn to subjugate their own tastes to data; second, they adapt to algorithm changes; third, they simplify stories into visual, often stereotypically sexualized and racialized imagery; fourth, they copy what works; fifth, they experience thrills of a game of scoring metrics. Ultimately, successful creators redefine their standards of quality with quantitative metrics they think algorithms will reward. By documenting this labor process, and creators’ shift in values and authenticity, I arrive at a theory of algorithms as performative in the online cultural economy, and fundamentally at odds with social media platforms’ insistence that they prize and reward authenticity.
10. Nils Ringe
Professor, Robert F. and Sylvia T. Wagner Chair, and Associate Chair for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Department of Political Science
Monday 12/06/2023 13:00-14:30 - co-organized with the CEE, Sciences Po
Discussant: Olivier Rozenberg, Associate Professor of Political Science, CEE, Sciences Po
Title: The Language(s) of Politics: Multilingual Policy-Making in the European Union
Multilingualism is an ever-present feature in political contexts around the world, including multilingual states and international organizations. Increasingly, consequential political decisions are negotiated between politicians who do not share a common native language. “The Language(s) of Politics” uses the case of the European Union to investigate how politicians’ reliance on shared foreign languages and translation services affects politics and policy-making. It not only shows that multilingualism is an inherent and consequential feature of EU politics, but also that it depoliticizes policy-making by reducing its political nature and potential for conflict. That is because both foreign language use and reliance on translation result in communication that is simple, utilitarian, neutralized, and involves commonly share phrases and expressions, which masks the national and political backgrounds, preferences, and priorities of EU actors. Policy-makers also tend to disregard politically charged language because it might not reflect what a speaker meant to say, and they are constrained in their ability to use vague or ambiguous language to gloss over disagreements by the need for consistency across languages. Multilingualism thus affects the EU’s political culture, by shaping perceptions of political differences, polarization of opinion, intensity of debate, and the resonance of arguments and evidence.
11. Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra
Sociology, UC San Diego
Tuesday 27/06/2023 13:00-14:30
Location: Salle Goguel, entrance via 27 rue Saint-Guillaume 75007 Paris (through the courtyard to the next building)
Discussant: Christine Musselin, CNRS Research Director, Center for the Sociology of Organizations (CSO), Sciences Po
Title: Budgets as Obfuscation: Competition, Austerity and the Organizational Politics of Higher Education
How is knowledge organized in American higher education? In recent decades, the adoption of market-oriented logics within universities and higher education research institutions has had profound implications on how the pursuit of knowledge is rewarded and shaped. This "commercialization of science" had profound consequences on how research programs are conceived and operationalized. But, how did this environment affect the production of knowledge beyond forms of science directly relevant to ideas of innovation? In this chapter, I explore the role of budget models in shaping and regulating how universities structure their instructional and research operations. Focusing on recent models of budgeting, this talk shows how budgeting techniques become means for implementing change in higher education as part of outwardly legitimate interventions that have direct consequences on the experience and outputs of knowledge-makers.