"Migration, diversity & mobility": a Cogito Dossier

  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

Social groups and individuals have always moved, more or less permanently. These moves, in all their diversity over time and space, feature many motives, trajectories, and repercussions – hence the imperative to analyse them with an equally multifaceted focus. The numerous research projects conducted at Sciences Po, particularly within the Migration and Diversity group, reflect this and seek to develop new approaches. This dossier presents an overview of their insights:

  • Arrested in Tehran in June 2019, and then sentenced to 5 years in prison on the basis of false accusations, our colleague, Fariba Adelkhah has long studied a wide range of travels. In this introductory article –  “Rereading Fariba Adelkhah: on the road from Teheran to Damascus” – we present one of her works, in which she reveals the unexpected dimensions of a pilgrimage of Iranian women to Damascus. Her anthropological perspective uncovers the social significance of the details of daily life.
  • With his article on “Migration and integration: global cities in the Mediterranean in the 18th century”, David Do Paço presents the ways in which foreign communities have integrated Mediterranean cities in the modern era. He shows that beyond the collective factors – 'Nations', families, and religions... – other dimensions newly studied in micro-history contributed to the integration of immigrant populations.
  • Legal expert Louis Imbert's contribution – “When Constitutional Law Imagines Foreigners” – is a cultural and comparative analysis of North American and Colombian law relating to foreigners. It presents two radically different legal policies: one based on the principle of exclusion, and the other based on the duty to show solidarity, both of which have significantly impacted our perception of immigrants, as well as their daily lives.
  • Between exclusion and integration, it is also important to consider partial policies that neither accept nor refuse immigrants, but rather integrate them into the labor market, turning a blind eye to the illegal practices of recruiters. This is what Lucas Puygrenier exposes in his article “Migrant labor: policies serving production systems”, drawing on a study of the employment of refugees and asylum seekers who make it to the island of Malta.
  • The impact of migration on the labor market is endlessly controversial: do immigrants form a needed labor pool, or is their competition harmful to "native" workers? This question divides both public opinion and economists. In his article on “Migration, Wages and (un)Employment”, Hélène Thiollet and Florian Oswald present many empirical studies while highlighting the elements to consider in order to build a perspective that better reflects reality.
  • Citizens are increasingly mobilising to end the discrimination and systemic racism affecting immigrants and their descendants. In response, the far right is pointing to anti-white racism. To analyse the relevance of this latter concept, Daniel Sabbagh in his article ”Is There Such a Thing as “Anti-White Racism”?”, delves into the foundations of racism, or rather racisms. By focusing on their mechanisms and actual consequences, he sets the record straight.
  • Highlighting the limitations an excessive research focus on the migration policies of Western states in her article "Unlocking Migration Politics: Gaps and Biases in Scientific Debates", Hélène Thiollet calls for reinventing research on migration policies. She suggests more studies on the countries of the South as migration destinations, and most importantly, consideration of migration both as the subject of migration policies and as one of the constitutive phenomena of nation states. .
  • Given the vast subject and its significance for the peaceful development of societies, it has been addressed in many research projects. We present here the approaches and methods of a sample of recently initiated projects: the politicisation of Asian minorities in France, the establishment of statistics at the European level, the media treatment of migration "crises", the role of mobility in intercultural relations and technological progress, and the outsourcing of migration policies.Discover the projects!

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Welcome to the eight new members of our permanent faculty!

  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

In 2020, Sciences Po welcomed eight new members to its permanent faculty. Eight researchers who, each in their own field of expertise, open doors to new knowledge for our research and our teaching. These new thinkers strengthen our research units, irrigate our courses, and reinforce Sciences Po's presence in public debate. Discover their bios!

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Sciences Po ranks 2nd nationally in Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021

  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

Research ranking

In the 2020 Times Higher Education World University Rankings in social science, Sciences Po ranks 68th globally and 2nd nationally.

Our strengths lie in our internationalization and the citations of our researchers' publications, two indicators in which we have progressed from last year.

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Novembre 2020

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Christophe Jaffrelot, New President of the French Political Science Association

  • Christophe Jaffrelot  crédits image Sciences PoChristophe Jaffrelot crédits image Sciences Po

Christophe Jaffrelot, Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) Research Director at the Centre de recherches internationales de Sciences Po (CERI), has just been elected the President of the French Political Science Association (AFSP). The opening of this chapter provides an opportunity to revisit the mission of this association, which was established by Sciences Po in 1949. It is also an occasion to discuss the projects of the new team that has been formed by Christophe Jaffrelot and Michel Mangenot, the Secretary General of the AFSP. Interview.

You devote your research to understand Indian and Pakistani societies and their political life. Isn't this at odds with the vocation of the French Association of Political Science, which seems to be national in scope ?

If the AFSP is French, that does not mean that it confines itself to France, far from it! Political science itself - like other social sciences, moreover - hardly recognises national borders - and if it does so, it is not to see them as an obstacle, but, as far as possible, to engage in a dialogue between traditions and methods that remain, it is true that they are different – as demonstrated by the weight of quantitative approaches in the United States and the greater importance of the "field" in France, for example.
As far as my personal case is concerned, I do not see the "exotic" nature of my objects of study as a problem. If my empirical terrains are in South Asia, I study them using social science theories. In fact, I have written texts on the theories of nationalism, democracy, populism... and I am about to do the same on authoritarianism, a sign of the times....
Working on South Asia, however, has led me to explore more the dimensions of political science that lie at the intersection of other disciplines, necessary to the intelligence of my objects, such as anthropology, sociology and geography - and not to mention history, my natural inclination. However, this in no way constitutes a betrayal of political science, which is a crossroads discipline par excellence. Do we not talk about political sociology, political anthropology, political economy and political philosophy. This is because power relations can be analysed from many angles.
I would also like to add that if we want to define political science as the science of power - which seems to me to be a good approach - it is necessarily "all fields" because there is power everywhere, and comparing the forms that power takes in different societies is most intellectually stimulating! The founders of the AFSP understood from the very outset the interest of "comparative politics". Although it was not until 2020 that a specialist from faraway lands became president of the Association, the Association showed an interest in comparatism from the very beginning and internationalised its activity from 1949 by participating in the Constitutive Conference of the International Political Science Association.  



In addition to your research activities, you have performed important research "administration" functions. What impact has this had on your own work?

These kind of functions hinder research work more than anything else in reality! Moreover, I have never been a candidate for any administrative function without "someone coming to look for me". However, on the one hand, scientists have to make their institutions work - because they are in a better position than anyone else to do so - and on the other hand, those who take on these kinds of tasks still find some advantage from the point of view of their research. Being a "full-time" researcher as a CNRS staff member, like me, can lead to hyper-specialisation. Taking on research administration functions means opening up to other approaches, other methods, other fields, and this is how one can progress in one's own research, through comparison - I will come back to this! In social science, too, there are "Eureka moments," which one prepares for by acquiring an intimate knowledge of one's object, but which often arise inadvertently - and reading work on different objects written by colleagues with other perspectives can play a catalytic role here. Examples: I understand better and Indian-style crony capitalism by learning about Russian oligarchs and Hindu national-populism by reading about Erdogan's Turkey... Yet one does not necessarily make these detours without being obliged to do so - and getting involved in tasks of collective interest creates this obligation. Having said that, there are other ways to achieve the same result! At CERI, the cohabitation of specialists from very different fields has recently allowed us, for example, to publish a book comparing the exercise of power by fifteen populist leaders - and this is only the latest and most recent manifestation of a long comparative tradition that leads us to relativise the specificity of cultural areas: when we make the effort to subject different societies to the same questioning, we become aware of the limits of this notion.

Since its creation, the Association has undergone important changes. Can we retrace the main stages?

First of all, a historical point: the AFSP was born in 1949 at Sciences Po, where its first president, André Siegfried, and its first secretary general, Jean Meynaud, served. From the outset, the Association was inclined towards interdisciplinarity - Fernand Braudel, Raymond Aron, Lucien Febvre, Jean-Marcel Jeanneney, Marcel Griaule, Alfred Sauvy and others participated in the founding meeting of the AFSP. Two years later, the AFSP was the melting pot, still at Sciences Po, of the French Journal of Political Science.I recall these founding elements in order to put into perspective what might appear, in retrospect, to be fundamental evolutions and to outline a periodisation that owes much to the work of Yves Deloye, Secretary General of the AFSP from 2003 to 2016, who has endeavored to write its history (see in this regard the wealth of information on the Association's website: https://www.afsp.info/association/archives/frise-historique/).
If we think in terms of stages, which is not so easy because continuity prevails in many ways as my "history point" suggests, the first stage, from the late 1940s to the early 1950s, is important to understand because it sheds light on the second : after the war, it was a question of inventing a discipline in the singular (political science) in a country where the political object had hitherto been the subject of plural analyses borrowing from law, philosophy, history and other human and social sciences. It was necessary to catch up with the United States and the United Kingdom, where the development of the discipline had begun between the wars.
The second stage began at the end of the 1960s when the AFSP (and notably Jean Touchard, who was then both at the FNSP and at the Association as Secretary General) realised that the first two decades of its history had not produced the desired effect: French political science remained marginal on the international scene (notably at the International Association of Political Science – AISP world congresses) and lacked a methodological foundation. The AFSP will contribute to this awareness and will promote its professionalisation. In this respect, its role in the creation of the political science aggregation in the early 1970s should be emphasised, since it definitely made the recruitment of political science teacher-researchers autonomous from the legal matrix, which was still de rigueur.
A third stage began with the arrival of Jean-Luc Parodi as Secretary General of the Association in 1980 - he remained there until 1999, and during these two decades he endeavored to improve recognition of the social utility of the discipline (to better interpret the world in which citizens live) and its professional basis. It is the time when there was a proliferation of study days, of the opening of a dialogue with other disciplines (law, anthropology, history...) and especially of the first congresses. The AFSP congresses became places of intellectual exchange and socialisation for young social-politists. I myself have benefitted from this, all the more so since the paper I presented at my first congress in 1988 was later published in the RFSP thanks to the benevolence of George Lavau and my thesis supervisor, Jean Leca. However, the role of the congresses in terms of socialisation was not limited to the scientific order: it also allowed for exchanges on how to teach political science, at a time when the discipline was developing in universities, particularly in the regions. Yes, an important turning point in the history of the AFSP was the creation and growth of this meeting, to which everyone is invited – even those who do not have a permanent job. The first edition took place at Sciences Po in 1981. The second, five years later, the Congress became quadrennial and then biennial in 2005 under the impetus of Nonna Mayer and Yves Deloye, respectively President and Secretary General.

The internationalisation of the AFSP was asserted in the 1990s, under the leadership of Jean Leca, who first presided over the Association in 1993-94, then the AISP in 1994-97 and again the AFSP, until 2005, the year Nonna Mayer succeeded him and further accentuated this process of internationalisation.

Another change occurred at the end of the 1990s, under the aegis of Pierre Muller, Secretary General, when the AFSP became more involved in the defense of political science professions, an approach that finally led in 2005 to the creation of the l’Observatoire des Métiers Académiques de la Science Politique (OMASP).   
A final inflection, thanks to the initiative of Andy Smith and Nicolas Sauger - and to the energy of the AFSP's administrative team, made up of Anne Avy and Isabelle Rocca - was marked in 2017 by the redesigning of the Association's website and by a notable presence on social networks: tools that still need to be ramped up.
The internationalisation of the AFSP was asserted in the 1990s, under the leadership of Jean Leca, who first presided over the Association in 1993-94, then the AISP in 1994-97 and again the AFSP, until 2005, the year Nonna Mayer succeeded him and further accentuated this process of internationalisation.
Another change occurred at the end of the 1990s, under the aegis of Pierre Muller, Secretary General, when the AFSP became more involved in the defense of political science professions, an approach that finally led in 2005 to the creation of the Observatoire des Métiers Académiques de la Science Politique (OMASP).
A final inflection, thanks to the initiative of Andy Smith and Nicolas Sauger - and to the energy of the AFSP's administrative team, made up of Anne Avy and Isabelle Rocca - was marked in 2017 by the overhaul of the Association's website and by a notable presence on social networks: tools that still need to be ramped up.

Today, what are the main challenges that the Association will strive to address?

As I said, the AFSP's vocation is to be the professional association of French social-politists. It must be entirely that, beyond the 341 members it has today in its ranks. It is in this spirit, moreover, that as director of the CERI I decided to reimburse their membership fees to the researchers in the lab who joined the AFSP. It is not a question of " crunching numbers ", of inflating the number of members for the sake of it, because it is not an end in itself, but because an AFSP fully representative of its professional environment will allow it to walk on its own two legs: On the one hand, the association is an academic society where all scientific sensibilities should be able to discuss the major themes of the discipline and its methods; on the other hand, the AFSP is a privileged place to defend the professions of political science, at a time when the precariousness of lecturer-researchers and researchers is increasing, when job creation is completely out of step with the growing attractiveness of the discipline to students and when contract research has not succeeded in proving its worth. We want to take stock of all of this so that we can be more than just a lobby: a creative force.
It is to try to rise to these challenges that Michel Mangenot, professor at the University of Paris 8 where he directs the Institute of European Studies, and myself have set up an office where the members are in charge of missions are as many as the priorities.  We have already mentioned the defense of political science professions, where Frédéric Sawicki will be on the front line; Assia Boutaleb and Hélène Combes form a tandem focused on research activities, both those of the AFSP working groups - a breeding ground for vital forces - and those that expose academics to all sorts of dangers, starting with those in the field, as we bear witness today by the cruel imprisonment of Fariba Adelkhah, whom we have not forgotten! Carole Bachelot is in charge of strengthening AFSP's network of partners, notably by getting closer to academic societies in other disciplines, both to reinforce intellectual exchanges and to better defend scientists; Claire Dupuy is working on the internationalisation - already well underway - of AFSP, a task that again requires partnerships, but also more occasional exchanges and increased socialisation of young and no so young, internationally. In this regard, having participated in the IAPHS Congress held at Sciences Po in 1985 and in dozens of international conferences (notably in the United States where I taught every autumn for ten years), I must say that I have always been shocked by the persistent lack of knowledge, in these forums, of excellent French works, due to a lack of translation or the inability of authors to afford to attend major conferences. When I was director of CERI, I made participation in these conferences a priority - it is still close to my heart. Last but not least, Marieke Louis, who has valorisation as her mission, will help AFSP to exist in the City by using new audio/visual tools, since it is so important to make our political science and those who pursue it even better known.

In 1969, at a key moment in the history of France, Jean Touchard regretted that the AFSP was "too discreet /reserved " because, he said, "it is up to the AFSP to reflect on the state of political science in France and to make a certain number of precise proposals and establish priorities". This observation and his call to action remain topical, in a context that is finally comparable, and we will make sure that we draw the consequences from it, in a collegial manner that also involves the AFSP Board of Directors, where all the good will is already being put to task!

Christophe Jaffrelot, CNRS research director at the Centre de recherches internationales de Sciences Po (CERI), devotes his research to nationalism (and more particularly to national-populism) and to processes of de-democratisation, particularly in the context of Indian and Pakistani political societies. His research interests include the evolution of the Indian political system, the sociology of the Indian political class, the links between religion and politics, and the external relations of India and Pakistan.
He was awarded the bronze medal of the CNRS and today his work is an authoritative reference in his research fields. His activities related to the promotion and organisation of research have been and remain numerous: Director of book collections, Editor-in-chief or director of scientific journals in France and abroad, Director of CERI (2000-2008), President of the "Politics, Power, Organisation" section of CNRS (2012-2016), President of the Scientific Council of the network of French Research Institutes in Asia (2006-2016). He is also a member of many scientific councils in Indian, German and Pakistani universities. In addition to these functions, he is actively teaching at Columbia, Princeton, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Montreal and King's College (London). He is also involved in action research as a permanent consultant at the Quai d'Orsay Center for Analysis, Foresight and Strategy since 2008, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an expert at the Montaigne Institute.

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CIVICA’s research and innovation

strengthened through Horizon 2020

CIVICA – The European University of Social Sciences has received funding to strengthen its research dimension from the EU’s programme Horizon 2020, under the chapter “Science with and for Society.” 

The activities funded under this call aim to establish “CIVICA Research,” a joint long-term research and innovation environment. CIVICA Research will complement CIVICA’s education strategy supported by Erasmus+, which already includes a work package dedicated to research in four areas in particular: Societies in Transition and Crises of Earth; Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century; Europe Revisited; and Data Driven Technologies for the Social Sciences.

More information on CIVICA website

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The latest issue

  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

The pandemic – analysed in this issue in terms of some of its social aspects – has not eclipsed the more serious and long-lasting issue of environmental degradation, to which several articles are devoted. Other key issues – artificial intelligence, otherness, and savings – are also explored, offering new perspectives on current events. Research with an international scope, combining economics, political science, and sociology, is also presented. The issue culminates in a painful story that resonates today more than ever: that of the end of slavery. Enjoy the read!



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New Cogito Dossier : Gender Equity

  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

It is not the current health crisis that is making us realise the precariousness of women and domestic violence. These problems – like so many others – have long been known. This issue addresses areas that are rarely analysed: the negative consequences of some purportedly egalitarian and scientific policies, the geopolitics of gender, the impact of climate change on women’s lives, the paradoxical aspects of marital relations, and factors of persistence in educational and professional inequalities. The hope is that reading this issue will help everyone advance a cause that benefits society as a whole.



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Fariba Adelkhah jailed in Iran

remains a scientific prisoner
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

5 June 2020 has marked a very sad anniversary: our colleague and friend, Fariba Adelkhah, a researcher at Sciences Po’s Centre for International Studies, has now been imprisoned without motive in Iran for one year.

For one year she has fought with courage, tenacity and unfailing dignity, deserving of our utmost admiration.

Over the course of this year of incarceration, Fariba’s health has been weakened, particularly as a result of a several week-long hunger strike. It remains threatened today by the Covid-19 epidemic, still rife in Iran. Nevertheless, with characteristic generosity, Fariba continues to be actively involved with fellow inmates of Tehran’s Evin Prison. She offers French classes and has been put in charge of running the prison library.

The liberation of our colleague Roland Marchal and his repatriation on the 20 March constituted a first victory in this story. Marchal’s release was made possible by the intervention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French authorities as a whole and by numerous initiatives on the part of the Fariba Adelkhah & Roland Marchal Support Committee. All our efforts are now turned towards the hope of securing freedom for Fariba.

The verdict of Fariba’s trial on the 16 May sentenced her to six years in prison: five years for “conspiring to undermine national security” and one year for “propaganda against the system”. This heavy sentence is not founded on any serious grounds. Rather, it is political in nature, as French authorities have affirmed in a statement on the matter. This sentence is not yet definitive as it awaits examination by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. 

Now more than ever, we must redouble our efforts and work tirelessly to support our colleague and friend, by calling for her immediate release.

Fariba can rest assured of the support of a huge number of organisations, including the City Councils of Paris and Strasbourg, where she completed her studies, both of whom have been active in campaigning on her behalf since the beginning of her imprisonment. Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ms Shirin Ebadi, has also wished to affirm her support for Fariba’s cause and that of numerous other political prisoners detained in Iran. Her message is a fervent call for their freedom, in the name of fundamental human rights.

Fariba Adelkhah knows that we are with her in thought and that we will continue to be so until the day she is freed. Her fight is our fight.

Olivier Duhamel, President of the Fondation nationale des sciences politiques (FNSP)

Frédéric Mion, President of Sciences Po


  • Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, Calls for Fariba Adelkhah's Liberation

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In Support to Fariba Adelkhah

  • Photo: Fariba Adelkhah. Crédits Sciences Po / Droits réservésPhoto: Fariba Adelkhah. Crédits Sciences Po / Droits réservés

Fariba Adelkhah and Roland Marchal, both researchers at the Sciences Po Center for International Studies (CERI), were arrested in Iran in early June 2019. Since then, they have been held in detention without valid legal grounds. On 31 January, 2020, the CERI organised a conference, "Captives Without Cause", aimed at contributing to the mobilisation for their release and raising awareness on the various issues (diplomatic, political, intellectual and human) linked to their detention. Many researchers, but also public figures familiar with the issue of arbitrary arrests and hostage situations were present. Watch the videos (in French) I. Fariba et Roland : universitaires captifs, prisonniers politiques ? - REVOIR LA TABLE RONDE ICI avec Pascale Laborier (Université Paris Nanterre), John Crowley (UNESCO), Jean-Pierre Filiu (Sciences Po – CERI). Modérateur : Gilles Favarel-Garrigues (Sciences Po – CERI / CNRS) II. Fariba et Roland dans la tourmente mondiale : une « prise de gage » ? - REVOIR LA TABLE RONDE ICI avec Bernard Hourcade (CNRS), François Nicoullaud (ancien ambassadeur de France en Iran), Olivier Roy (Institut Universitaire Européen, Florence). Modérateur : Jean-François Bayart (IHEID, Genève) III. Fariba et Roland, citoyens à défendre : droit et justice des otages - REVOIR LA TABLE RONDE ICI avec Jean-Jacques Beaussou (ancien ambassadeur de France en Libye), Ariel Colonomos (Sciences Po – CERI / CNRS), William Schabas (Middlesex University London & Sciences Po), Fabrice Weissman (Médecins sans Frontières). Modératrice : Sandrine Lefranc (CNRS) IV. Sortir de la captivité : le retour des prisonniers - REVOIR LA TABLE RONDE ICI

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The World in the Face of COVID-19: Research Analysis and Surveys

  • Covid19. Crédits image:  mattthewafflecat, pixabayCovid19. Crédits image: mattthewafflecat, pixabay

The contribution of social sciences is more than ever essential for citizens, communities and leaders facing the crisis caused by Covid-19. The issues it touches upon - economic, social and health policy, organisation of public authorities and companies, trust in governmental bodies, inequalities, globalisation ... - are familiar to the academic community of Sciences Po. Through their analyses and new research projects, our researchers are responding today to the fundamental need to grasp the political, economic and social impacts of this pandemic in the short and long term.

Covid-19 From A Social Science Perspective
by Guillaume Plantin, Sciences Po Vice President for Research
Learn about our Webinar Series

This page is regularly updated




More analysis on @ScPoResearch

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Sciences Po ranks 2nd in the 2020 QS Rankings for Politics & International Studies

  • 2nd Place in 2020 QS University Rankings.©Sciences Po2nd Place in 2020 QS University Rankings.©Sciences Po

Sciences Po continues to progress in the 2020 QS World University Rankings by subject (PDF, 9.2Mo), moving from third to second place in the world in "Political Science & International Studies". In this world ranking released on March 4, 2020, Sciences Po is positioned just behind Harvard University, and tied with Princeton University. Sciences Po is for the first time the first university of Europe in this discipline, in front of the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics and Political Studies (LSE). 

For the past seven years the QS World University Rankings by subject which compares more than 1,200 universities around the world, has confirmed Sciences Po as a leading university in the social sciences. In 2020, Sciences Po ranks in the top 50 worldwide in 5 disciplines, with significant leaps in several subjects:

  • 2nd in the world in Political Science and International Studies, up one rank from 2019
  • 28th in Sociology (as in 2019)
  • 40th in Development Studies (top 100 in 2019)
  • 50th in the world in Law (top 100 in 2019)
  • Sciences Po also made significant progress in Economics and Econometrics, moving from the top 150 to the top 100 worldwide.

More over, Sciences Po ranks 23rd in Social Policy and Administration (22nd in 2019)

More information

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Cogito: The new issue!

  • COGITO, the Research Magazine  COGITO, the Research Magazine

The analysis of democracy, its advances, its new forms, as well as threats to it, are the focus of this new Cogito. This issue also examines a series of public policies: higher education, social policies, the environment, and ethics. It also looks at the reception of fake news on social networks and of decision-making. Finally, historical perspectives are provided on colonial cultures and the birth of medical emergencies. Enjoy the read!

In Folio

Public Deontology:From Principles to Practices by Guillaume Tusseau

Informational Autocrats by Sergei Guriev

Investigating Street Art in Latin America by Olivier Dabène

The Dark Matter of Democracy by Luc Rouban

No environmental economics without social justice by Éloi Laurent

Transforming universities: Proposals from a researcher by Christine Musselin

Colonial Transactions by Florence Bernault

The Paradox of Family Policy by Emanuele Ferragina

Governing the Digital City by Antoine Courmont et Patrick Le Galès

Research project

When the Truth is Inconvenient or “Motivated” Reading of Information par Jeanne Hagenbach


Fake News: From URLs to their Reception #InRealLife by Manon Berriche

Rising stars

The Birth of Medical Emergencies by Charles-Antoine Wanecq

Access to Social Housing by Marine Bourgeois

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Thinking Multilateralism

A Research Programme Supported and Funded by the CNRS
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po
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Jeanne Hagenbach presents her ERC project

"Motivated Reading of Evidence"
  • Crédits image : Jeanne HagenbachCrédits image : Jeanne Hagenbach

Jeanne Hagenbach, a CNRS researcher at the Department of Economics, won, in the framework of a very selective competition, funding from the European Research Council (ERC Starting Grant) to conduct her research project "Motivated Reading of Evidence ". Presentation.

“Motivating” Reading of Information Or When the Truth is Inconvenient

In most economic and social contexts, agents base their decisions (to purchase, to invest, to accept a job offer, etc.) on  available information. This information can take various forms: it can be verifiable or not, it can provide hard evidence of a fact or simply be a friend’s advice or recommendation. But whatever form information takes, one assumption guides its use in most economic models: agents, who initially lack information, seek to obtain the most accurate depiction of the context in which they are evolving. In other words, agents’ main objective is to discover the true “state of the world” (a microeconomics concept that summarizes the uncertainty of the environment). For example, it is assumed that consumers wish to learn about the nutritional content of their food in order to adapt their diet, that workers want to better understand their work environment as well as the risks they may be taking in order to adapt their efforts, or that applicants like to evaluate precisely their chances of getting a job or a promotion in order to improve their application. .

Another goal than learning the truth

In a new research project, recently financed by the European Commission (ERC Starting Grant), I propose to challenge this assumption: what if economic agents actually do not always want to know the truth about their environment? In other words, the idea is to consider that agents can form “motivated beliefs”, that is, beliefs that serve a personal objective which is potentially more complex than the one of holding accurate beliefs. In this way, an agent may prefer not to know how slaughterhouses work and continue to consume meat, may want to go on smoking by willfully ignoring the health damage of this habit, or prefer wrongly believing that he/she just got a good deal at the supermarket.

The complex role of beliefs

Research in psychology has shown for a long time that beliefs can affect an agent’s well-being directly and not only because they allow him/her to make better choices. For instance, the psychologist Melvin Lerner (1980) argues that individuals give an intrinsic value to the belief that the world is a fair place, that people get what they deserve. The field of psychology has also established that, independently of his actions, an agent can suffer merely due to the fact that, once updated with new information, his beliefs contradict those he has held up until now.

Elaborate strategies to reach particular beliefs

Like behavioural economics in general, the topic of motivated beliefs has been receiving increasing interest in economics for the past few years now. This interest was initially motivated by the observation that individuals always view themselves as better than the average population (in better health, with a smaller chance to divorce, as a more careful driver etc.), a belief which is necessarily wrong. Jean Tirole, who received the Nobel prize in economics in 2014, and Roland Benabou, professor at Princeton University, have gone so far as to propose a model in which an agent uses elaborate strategies to reach and maintain pleasant beliefs about himself (his intelligence, his altruism etc.). In this model, several versions (or “selves”) of the same individual interact strategically: one “self” manipulates another one! Moreover, recent lab experiments have demonstrated that agents memorize positive feedback about themselves better than negative, most probably in order to preserve a motivating or reassuring self-image. In this type of experiment, voluntary human subjects are usually assigned randomly to various experimental treatments. Researchers then measure how the treatments affect, for example, beliefs that agents form about their own IQ level. As is commonly done in experimental economics, subjects are paid as a function of the accuracy of their stated beliefs, so as to give them real incentives to reveal their true beliefs.

Holding beliefs about oneself but also about the world

In all works previously mentioned, motivated beliefs are about personal characteristics of the individual: his intelligence, his generosity, his health status. In her project, Jeanne Hagenbach wishes to study how economic agents form beliefs about other individuals and about their economic environment more generally. Do we perceive others in the same way when we are about to compete against them or about to work with them? Which dimensions of a person’s identity do we have in mind in different strategic settings? Which avoidance strategies do consumers use not to learn that some products are polluting the planet? Do they avoid reading the labels, avoid reasoning about these labels or deliberately forget what they learnt? To try to answer these questions, Jeanne Hagenbach uses experimental methods as well as theoretical models. In terms of experiments, we can, for instance, measure how subjects perceive another subject’s CV in different strategic settings that are announced prior to the reading of the CV. Regarding the development of theoretical models, an objective is to show that bounds on rationality may come from purposeful choices from an agent who prefers not to know the whole truth. In particular, it may be that an agent is cognitively able to make all inferences required to learn the truth in some contexts, but that this agent refuses to make these inferences if that truth is disturbing.

The question of information avoidance

According to “classical” economic theory, a decision-maker should never avoid information because it helps him make better choices. It is therefore particularly surprising that in forming motivated beliefs, individuals sometimes avoid available information. It follows that public policies which rely on the mandatory disclosure of information – on the risks of some products for health or for the environment, on the methods of data protection etc. – may not be as efficient as one may think. When agents do not want to know, how should they be informed ? And should we be informing them?

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Governing Finance - Dossier

  • Cogito 8 – Governing Finance. Copyrights: Sciences PoCogito 8 – Governing Finance. Copyrights: Sciences Po

In an issue devoted to the challenging governance of finance, our researchers might have dwelled on reviewing and analyzing the financial crises in recent memory, or even looked into the future with a lot of frightening forecasts. But since the interest of research lies in going off the beaten track, here they present their most recent research, focused on overlooked or forgotten subjects, and shed light on the obscurities of an often misunderstood world.
Happy reading!


Et aussi...

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Stiglitz and Zelizer, Doctors Honoris Causa

November, 13th 2019
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

During a moving ceremony on 13 November 2019, Sciences Po awarded the sociologist Viviana Zelizer and the economist Joseph Stiglitz the titles of Docteur honoris causa. This distinction was given to Dr. Zelizer for her work as the founder of a new school of economic sociology, and to Dr. Stiglitz as the figure of the new Keynesian economy.


Frédéric Mion, President of Sciences Po and administrator of the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques (fr/en)

Speech of Jeanne Lazarus in praise of Viviana Zelizer (fr)

Download the speech (in english)


Speech of Viviana Zelizer (en)

Download the speech


Speech of Jean-Paul Fitoussi in praise of Joseph Stiglitz (en)


Speech of Joseph Stiglitiz (en)

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Welcome to the 16 researchers who joined Sciences Po in 2018-2019

  • Porte d'entree du 27 rue Saint Guillaume. Crédit Sandrine Gaudin /Sciences PoPorte d'entree du 27 rue Saint Guillaume. Crédit Sandrine Gaudin /Sciences Po

This year, 16 permanent faculty members have joined Sciences Po. They are all characterised by a great diversity, be it through their Alma mater, their careers, disciplines or specialisations. Beyond the quality of their scientific activities, they have another thing in common: the desire to share the results of their research, first and foremost with our students.

Discover their profiles! 

In case of display problem view the slideshow or download the pdf.

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Sciences Po ranks 2nd nationally

in Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020
for social sciences
  • Times Higher Education - World University Rankings 2020Times Higher Education - World University Rankings 2020

Research ranking

In the 2020 Times Higher Education World University Rankings for social science subjects, published in November 2019, Sciences Po ranks 69th globally and 2nd nationally.

Our strengths lie in our internationalization and the citations of our researchers' publications, two indicators in which we have progressed from last year.

More information:

Institution ranking

Times Higher Education has just published its ranking of higher education institutions.

Of the 38 French institutions ranked - taking into account all the dimensions assessed, Sciences Po ranks 14th, one better place than in the 2019 ranking.
Sciences Po is also 14th in terms of research and 9th in terms of internationalisation of its students and its scientific community.

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Jeanne Hagenbach awarded an ERC Starting Grant

  • Jeanne HAGENBACH, chercheuse CNRS. Crédits : Caroline Maufroid / Sciences PoJeanne HAGENBACH, chercheuse CNRS. Crédits : Caroline Maufroid / Sciences Po

7 september 2019

The European Research Council (ERC) officially published the list of projects it has retained for its 2019 “Starting Grants” Call.

As a reminder, ERC grants aim to encourage the highest quality research in Europe through competitive funding and to support investigator-driven frontier research across all fields, on the basis of scientific excellence, “Starting Grants” being dedicated to early-career researchers with a scientific track record showing great promise.

The project “Motivated Reading of Evidence” submitted by Jeanne Hagenbach, CNRS Researcher and Professor at the Sciences Po Departement of Economics, is one of the 41 projects hosted by French Institutions which have been selected.

This success is added to an already impressive list of distinctions for Jeanne Hagenbach. In 2009 she was awarded two prizes for her doctoral dissertation «Communication stratégique et réseaux »: the Richelieu Thesis Prize of the Chancellerie des Universités de Paris and the Thesis Prize of the French Economic Association.  In 2012 the Fondation Banque de France awarded her the « Young Researcher in Economics Prize». Last, but not least, she was distinguished by the CNRS which awarded her the Bronze Medal in 2016.

Jeanne Hagenbach’s work within the field of microeconomics draws on game theory and experimental economics. Unabashedly theoretical, Professor Hagenbach’s research revolves around models of communication in game theory. Her objective is to understand in which strategic situations information held by economic agents is passed on the most effectively.

The project is perfectly aligned with this research: Jeanne Hagenbach wishes to study how individuals interpret hard information in ways that serve their own purposes. She seeks to identify the goals that nudge the reading of evidence in systematic ways. She also wants to study how agents manage to distort this reading, for example by choosing not to read or reason about available evidence.

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Cutting-edge and accessible research

Interview with Guillaume Plantin
  •   Guillaume Plantin, Directeur scientifique Crédits @Alexis Lecomte/Sciences Po Guillaume Plantin, Directeur scientifique Crédits @Alexis Lecomte/Sciences Po

Guillaume Plantin, the Vice President for research at Sciences Po and professor in the Department of economics, worked abroad for many years before joining Sciences Po. This experience was conducive to his understanding of research in a global context: global in terms of the issues to explore – environment, digital technology, populism – and global in terms of the global competition in which science is evolving. He believes that research at Sciences Po has a solid record and has demonstrated the necessary creativity to meet these challenges – in its own way. He explains below.

What are the particularities of research at Sciences Po?

I would say that Sciences Po’s research has four key features. First, our research is dominated by political science. It’s a hallmark since this discipline was born within our walls in France, over a century ago. Law, economics, history, and sociology then gradually developed. This focus on a limited number of disciplines is a second feature. It is one of our strengths because it allows us to work collegially by adopting multidisciplinary approaches, i.e. when a “subject” is separately studied by several disciplines, and interdisciplinary research, i.e. when disciplines jointly approach a same subject. This is the third pillar. The fourth dimension, which is just as important, is our faculty’s involvement in public debate. Since its creation, Sciences Po has assigned itself the mission of using the products of its research to engage with society beyond academia. Finally, our research faithfully reflects Sciences Po’s pedagogical goal, for which it is also a resource.     

What are current areas of focus?

We are already tackling increasingly pressing issues: the environment, digital technology, territories, gender, populism, and economic and financial instabilities. We are now launching new interdisciplinary groups, like the one seeking to bring together law and economics to address common themes. There is much to do in this area. For example, what economic tools are used in the legal process and the development of its rulings? We also make our researchers communicate about their methods. It is necessary and conducive to new ideas and practices. The medialab is a major asset in this regard, and is unique in the French academic landscape. It has fostered the development of cutting-edge methods, such as ones to harvest and analyze big data. Many researchers use these new tools. The medialab and participating researchers from all backgrounds also created a working group on digital transitions. Finally, we will start exploring subjects that are usually confined to the so-called “hard” sciences. An example is biotechnology, which is raising ethical, political, and social questions that the social sciences must consider.

Aren’t there older and more persistent subjects like inequalities that are and will always be worth studying?

Of course, but these issues are evolving. Inequalities are a case in point: the transformation of economic, financial, and technological systems are deeply changing them. It behooves us to understand why, how, and the attendant social and political effects. We must also help imagine public policies and societal changes to stem inequalities deemed out of control in many countries. One of our laboratories – MaxPo, the product of an alliance with the prestigious Max Planck Institute – focuses on this. Another example is research pursued within the Laboratory for interdisciplinary study of public policies (the LIEPP). Its research addresses the longstanding need to measure the effectiveness of public policy. But by combining an interdisciplinary approach, scientific rigor, and a desire to make proposals understandable to a broad audience, it reinvents this type of study.

What challenges should the institution and its researchers address?

It is essential that we continue to pair disciplines and be open to society. This objective may seem self-evident but it is not easy to reach. We were able, in several years, to lift ourselves to the rank of a world-class research university, and we must now continue growing in an extremely competitive global environment. It is therefore key that our faculty members conduct advanced research in their disciplines and publish in the best international journals. Besides the pursuit of this classical academic excellence, we ask that they dialog with other disciplines and reach out to the general public. The vast majority of our researchers appreciates the need for this multi-pronged effort, and it is our duty to help them by allowing them, among other things, to manage their time, and by providing them with solid administrative support.    

What are the major institutional developments?

First, we are mindful of applying to ourselves our research findings on gender equality, for example. While much progress remains to be made, we are on the right path. Another challenge is to continue to internationalize. We have very satisfactorily succeeded in combining these objectives. Over the past years we have recruited many researchers from abroad who are studying key issues. The idea is to strengthen cooperation, like the Alliance program connecting us to Columbia, our joint PhDs, and our partnerships with universities located in countries that are crucibles of globalization, such as China and Brazil. Finally, we would like to emphasize our efforts to integrate foreign academics visiting Sciences Po. Over a hundred of them come every year. It is a wonderful means for us to open ourselves to other ways of thinking and to different perspectives on questions that affect all societies. Another objective is to not rest on our laurels. Hence, our faculty’s activities are regularly assessed internally and externally. There are obviously quantitative indicators, but we are especially committed to a qualitative analysis of the research and its long-term impact.

All this requires significant resources…

Indeed!  Sciences Po devotes around a third of its own resources to research. A significant part of this effort focuses on the next generation – our PhDs students – who must be able to pursue their research in the best conditions. We also secure public funding on the basis of highly competitive calls for proposals, especially those of the European Research Council, and of the National Agency for Research. Finally, we deploy private funding, without ever compromising out most precious good: academic independence and freedom.

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Research at Sciences Po in 2018

  • Annual report of research at Sciences Po 2018Annual report of research at Sciences Po 2018

2018 Report: Presenting a detailed picture of scientific activity at Sciences Po in 2018, this report focuses on the development of research on issues affecting our societies so more and more pressing: environment and digital.

It also presents numerous research projects funded by major organizations such as the European H2020 program or the French National Research Agency.

One can also follow the development of our publications, the permanent faculty and doctoral studies.

Download 2018 Report

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New Cogito

New dossier!
  • Can digital technology reinvent democracy? Copyrights Sciences PoCan digital technology reinvent democracy? Copyrights Sciences Po

To shed light on an issue as complex, multidimensional and often discussed in a Manichean way, researchers and Sciences Po research engineers make us share the results of their investigations: facts, analysis … and new questions!


More information

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Sciences Po, 3rd in “Politics and International Studies” in QS Rankings 2019

  • QS ranking. Copyright Sciences PoQS ranking. Copyright Sciences Po

Sciences Po improves once again its global position in "Politics and International Studies", moving up, after three successive years in 4th place, to 3rd position globally in the 2019 QS World Univeristy Rankings by subject, released on 27 February, 2019. Just behind Harvard University and the University of Oxford, Sciences Po is the first university of continental Europe and this discipline.

For the sixth year in a row, the QS rankings by subject, comparing over 1,200 universities, continue to illustrate that Sciences Po is at the heart of leading social science universities. This trend can also be observed in sociology; after being ranked 44th and then 37th in the past two years, Sciences Po has now leaped ahead to the 28th place. 

Further progress has also been made in the “Social Policy and Administration” subject, as Sciences Po jumped from 48th to 22nd place in the world rankings. 

In law, Sciences Po maintains its place within the 51st and 100th positions. Sciences Po also upholds its rank in economics and history, between the 101st and 150th positions.

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Discover the latest books

of our scientific community
  • Les publications de la recherche à Sciences Po. Crédits : ShutterstockLes publications de la recherche à Sciences Po. Crédits : Shutterstock
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