All posts by Sören Stapel

German-speaking political science and social media

Social Media Bandwagon
Source: Matt Hamm / Photopin / cc

Two months ago, the German-speaking blogosphere organized a blog carnival, directly following the Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen’s symposium on the web 2.0. and social media in the International Relations profession. In the symposium, social media were approached as both an object of study, and a professional means to network and reach out to the general public. The symposium called for a reaction from the various German-speaking bloggers. And we got them. My initially planned contribution to the carnival never materialized when the work plate simply got swamped with editorial work on an edited volume, reviews of a book chapter, a data collection project, the preparation of field research, and me actually being on field research mission. So, this blog post should be considered a late addition to this little party.

Some of the contributions fleshed out part and parcel of bloggers’ experiences in general. Others reflected on the late arrival of German speakers to the use of social media for professional concerns and possible (negative) consequences (see Ali’s intro and collection of links, in German). Yet, it strikes me that an important question has been missing from the discussion: How much social media engagement of German-speaking political science researchers is out there? Continue reading German-speaking political science and social media

Dealing with the African Governance Transfer Tangle

AU HQ
AU Commission headquarter and Peace and Security Council buildings in Addis Ababa.

At the end of October, when the streets in Ouagadougou were filled with protesters calling attention to a reverberating crisis that is not unique to Burkina Faso, the African Union convened the 3rd High Level Dialogue on Democratic Governance in Africa in Dakar, Senegal, themed “Silencing the Guns: Strengthening Governance to Prevent, Manage and Resolve Conflicts in Africa”. This was the third workshop in a series of meetings organized under the auspices of the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) of the African Union Commission. While the inaugural High Level Dialogue in November 2012 was broadly framed as “Governance and Democracy in Africa: Trends, Challenges and Prospects”, the follow-up consultations focused on constitutional order and the rule of law in 2013 and the governance-conflict nexus this year.

The High Level Dialogue is meant to bring together actors involved in the promotion and protection of governance standards in domestic contexts: AU organs and officials, actors from the regional economic communities, civil society, African citizens, and numerous stakeholders. These dialogues will hopefully initiate and promote the exchange of ideas and best practices amongst various governance actors, and help develop a common understanding and mutual support in fighting the governance gap in Africa’s domestic contexts. The consultations involved a social media campaign. Documents can be retrieved from the DPA’s Scribd page and some buzz was created via Twitter – see #DGTrends and #SilencingTheGuns. [The very informative DGTrends Website has been off for some days now.] Continue reading Dealing with the African Governance Transfer Tangle

When junior IR scholars meet… #ibnwt14

new-yorker-cartoon
Source: Allan Johnson’s The Art of Academic Practice.

While other IR associations have included and highlighted junior scholar work in their annual conferences only recently, such as the ISA’s junior scholar symposium, the German Political Science Association has already set up a junior scholars’ conference quite some time ago. Ever since 1994, junior IR scholars in and from Germany have met for their very own conference every two years. The 11th IB Nachwuchstagung will take place this coming weekend. Continue reading When junior IR scholars meet… #ibnwt14

Should I publish in my native language?

ZIB_Title
The German IR journal Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen. Source: Nomos Publishers.

People often claim that publishing in US outlets is be perceived to be optimal, and English is the lingua franca in IR. But those from a non Engliish-speaking background are confronted with the problem of deciding whether the paper should be written in English (and be published in English journals) or whether it is more advisable to write in one’s native language.

In the last edition of the German flagship IR journal ‘Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen (ZIB)‘, Matthias Albert and Michael Zürn issued a plea to also publish in German. They neither say that one should publish in one’s native language exclusively, nor that the ratio of English language to native language authored papers should be determined by any arbitrary rule. IR scholars should rather publish both in English and in their native language. It’s a great piece, and I suggest reading it, but I also want to address some bits and pieces that I find hard to swallow. Continue reading Should I publish in my native language?

Links: German elections, grad student advice, IL/IR symposium, O’Bagy

Election Day in Germany is on Sunday. Yesterday was the information event for my tasks as a poll worker on Sunday. As we all know, Germans are said to be very organized and efficient, but can be harsh. This event proved the rule. And I feel like making fun about one specific disadvantage of being German:

German elections and forecasting

Back to serious issues. A few weeks ago I somehow lamented about the state of forecasting Germany’s federal elections in 2013. Sadly, I wasn’t aware of Kai Arzheimer’s work. In the mid of August, he has launched a series of blog posts on forecasting the German elections and some follow-ups here, here, here, and here. But you could also have a glance at his code and data for replication or just visit his blog in general which is very entertaining.

He also has a piece in the online edition of Al Jazeera on Germany’s elections, the EU, and the future of the Euro.

The European Council on Foreign Relations is currently running a great series looking at how the German elections being viewed from by other EU partners. So far, the series covered Poland, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Britain, and Spain.

Scholars from the Social Science Research Center in Berlin (WZB) have looked at party manifestos of all German federal elections. Their data is now available and they have published some at the Democracy & Democratization blog. See also their introduction to the Manifesto project. The online edition of the newspaper Die Zeit also presented some of their findings (in German). The base line is: political parties differ on many issues in their party manifestos and there is a general turn to the left regarding both economic and socio-political dimensions (less market-oriented and more progressive). But, of course, exceptions prove the rule. Continue reading Links: German elections, grad student advice, IL/IR symposium, O’Bagy

German Foreign Policy Bingo

fp_bingo

On Sunday, September 1st, all major TV channels in Germany will broadcast the first (and only) “duel” between Angela Merkel and her challenger in the upcoming federal elections, Peer Steinbrück. As we have criticized in a previous post, both are not exactly known for their visionary positions on foreign policy.

Nonetheless, we will make sure to watch the show. In particular, we’ll pay close attention to any mentions of foreign policy and international affairs.

And to make things more interesting, we suggest you gather a group of friends for a round of “German foreign policy bingo”! We’ve come up with 24 topics that could be featured in Sunday’s debate and created a set of randomized bingo sheets. Please download, print, and share them with your friends:

German Foreign Policy Bingo [PDF with 12 sheets]

PS. For added fun, turn this into a drinking game! Take a shot for every topic that is mentioned, and prepare a bottle of champagne for the lucky winner (in case the candidates actually talk about foreign policy enough to fill a row on the card).

PPS. Think we missed an important topic? Just create your own version (and share it in the comments if you like)! Our word list for convenient copy & paste: Continue reading German Foreign Policy Bingo

Elections in Germany: Forecasts and Polls

The election campaign in Germany is about to gather speed with less than 30 days left until election day. I assume we’re going to cover that in more depth soon, too. For now, I can direct you to the Hertie School’s Expert Blog on the German Federal Elections in 2013 in case you have not checked it out yet. They cover a plethora of topics from labour market policies and the German Energiewende to gender equality and family policy.

So let me do the kick-off for some posts that will appear on this blog over the next couple of weeks. Yet, this is not about politics but looks at polling and forecasting in the German case, thereby briefly touching upon some of the recent trends of the German political landscape. I will point out some of the flaws of both polling and forecasts. However, don’t misread the point: I’m not against polls and forecasts as such and have lots of fun following the respective discussion throughout the year. But we should not overemphasize these results, either, as both do not come without problems.

Continue reading Elections in Germany: Forecasts and Polls

Links: Open Access, Teaching, Painful PhD Problems, Quantitative Methods, Maps, and Movies

With the summer break still going on and some more substantive blog posts in the pipeline and waiting to be written, here again some links that I found interesting over the last two weeks – all of them more or less related to the profession.

Publishing and open access. Over at the Disorder of Things, two related articles take up the open access problematique / discussion. The first article has a list presenting seven propositions on open access. This article is followed by an interview with Eva Erman, chief editor of Ethics & Global Politics, a fully open journal. As we all have a more or less clear idea of how running a polsci / IR journal looks like, this interview nicely shows what it means to edit an open access journal.

Teaching. On Inside Higher Ed, Andrew Pegoda has a great essay on lessons learned in college teaching and what he has experienced over the last couple of years. (h/t to DuckPM; in early July, he also published is own thoughts on teaching introduction to international relations)

Methods. After Phil Schrodt revealed he would soon retire, my twitter feed literally exploded. That’s how I noticed a very great article he presented at APSA 2010 proposing the Seven Deadly Sins of Contemporary Quantitative Political Analysis. His seven points are:

1. Greed: Kitchen sink models that ignore the e ffects of collinearity;
2. Pride: Pre-scienti c explanation in the absence of prediction;
3. Sloth: Reanalyzing the same data sets until they scream;
4. Lust: Using complex methods without understanding the underlying assumptions;
5. Wrath: Interpreting frequentist statistics as if they were Bayesian;
6. Gluttony: Linear statistical monoculture at the expense of alternative structures;
7. Envy: Confusing statistical controls and experimental controls

The APSA paper is more fun to read since he provides lots of pop culture allusions and is way more sarcastic than the more polished version he will publish in the Journal of Peace Research, but the latter one is a bit shorter (here). Apparantly, he also plans to expand it into a book.

Fun facts and trivia – it still summer and the more fun stuff should not come off too short:

In case someone is going to ask me once again how / whether my PhD project over the last year, I will just forward this list of 25 deeply painful problems of a PhD student. (h/t to Tobias)

You’re more of the visual learner? You want to know more about the world? Here is a great collection of comparisons portrayed in maps, i.e. countries invaded by Britain or global internet usage based on time of day. (h/t to Zoe)

And, finally, over at Marginal Revolution, two movies have been promoted because they approach the brutality and personal consequences of killing from two highly interesting, but very different point of views. Check out this very succinct review. (h/t to Mathis)

A military coup is a military coup

Anti_Morsi_protest_march_at_28th_June_2013
Anti Morsi protests at June 28. Source: Wikimedia (public domain).

Over the weekend, I attended a workshop with IR people from very different backgrounds. As it often happens, small-talk themes varied from workshop-related conceptual disagreements and the situation at the respective home institutions to actual political events. This time, the most prominent topic given the coup against Morsi last Wednesday was the Egyptian crisis and its causes.

What struck me most about the reactions was that a large part of the participants actually justified and legitimized the military’s actions to push Morsi out of office. This was demanded by the Egyptian people by being on the street and protesting against the ruling regime, it was often said. Morsi made too many mistakes as he was not able to improve the economic situation and because he set different groups against each other, others claimed. The military had to interfere in order to reconstitute order and in order to protect the democratic endeavor in Egypt.

Truth be told, this sucks: what is a military coup should also be named a military coup.

Continue reading A military coup is a military coup

Protests in Brazil and Turkey: Not yet social movements

These days, we are witnessing an interesting number of social upheavals around the world. There is the Arab Spring which has re-awakened the interest in the North African region. We have seen student protests in the streets of London. People went on the streets of Moscow to express their allegations of electoral fraud in 2011. And, to keep in mind, there is the still ongoing civil war in Syria. Very recently, two countries, often referred to as the power houses of their regions, have witnessed the discontent of their populations: Turkey and Brazil.

At a first glance, both cases seem to be different stories. Whereas the Taksim Gezi Park protests seem to be rather spontaneous, the Brazilian protests have deeper and long-lasting roots. So what happened? Are there also similarities? And how can we make sense of these contemporaneous events?1

The Turkish case

Reasons for demonstrating in Turkey
Own figure. Data source: Konda.

Continue reading Protests in Brazil and Turkey: Not yet social movements