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Book Review: Model Cases: On Canonical Research Objects and Sites by Monika Krause

2 days ago

In Model Cases: On Canonical Research Objects and Sites, Monika Krause explores how scholars select research objects and the consequences of these processes, focusing particularly on the social sciences. This highly instructive book will encourage readers to reflect on collective research patterns and their role in the collective production of knowledge, writes Vera Linke. 
Model Cases: On Canonical Research Objects and Sites. Monika Krause. University of Chicago Press. 2021.
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What do we as scholars look at when we do research? That is the simple but effective question that underlies Monika Krause’s highly instructive new book, Model Cases. Of course, there are plenty of publications that reflect on the methods scientists use to collect and analyse

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Boris Johnson, Brexit, and the decline of public standards

4 days ago

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced calls for his resignation over the holding of parties at Number 10 Downing Street during lockdown. Andrew Ryder argues the scandal runs much deeper than the work culture at the heart of government or Boris Johnson’s personal failings. It is emblematic of a decline in public standards that has sharply escalated since the Brexit referendum.
Public standards or what can be termed the principles of public life are: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership. Britain was once envied and seen as a model for such standards. Sadly, that record has been deeply tarnished by a number of actions in British political life, in particular the actions of the present Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
The

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A world without capitalism?

4 days ago

Is there a viable future without capitalism? Drawing on a new book, Christian W. Chun examines the belief there is no alternative to capitalism and questions whether the capitalist system is really the best we can do.
In October 2021, the website Inequality.org posted that since the pandemic began spreading in the United States in March 2020, American billionaires’ wealth had increased by over 70 percent. They are now $2.1 trillion dollars richer, based on Forbes data analysed by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality (IPS).
Meanwhile, unemployment rose dramatically following the outset of the pandemic, with more and more people becoming destitute around the world and many cities experiencing an increase in their homeless

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Russia can no longer ignore the threat posed by climate change

5 days ago

Climate change is likely to have a profound impact on Russia, with two-thirds of the country’s territory lying in the arctic north, and the Russian economy heavily reliant on exports of fossil fuels. Yet until recently, the issue has received limited attention from Russia’s political leaders. Thane Gustafson explains why despite continued scepticism about global warming, Russia is now waking up to the threat climate change poses to its position in the world.
Soviet climate scientists were among the first to call attention to the warming trend in the Arctic and to speculate that it might be man-made. In the 1970s, as the Cold War too began to thaw, Soviet scientists actively joined their western colleagues in international conferences on global warming, and in 1988, they were

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Migration and the ‘dark side’ of globalisation

6 days ago

Globalisation has had a profound impact on migration, with improving connections between states resulting in more people than ever before choosing to live and work in other countries. Yet as Leila Simona Talani explains, this process has been contradictory, with many of the migration crises the world has witnessed in recent decades having their roots in globalisation. Drawing on a new book, she outlines the ‘dark side’ of the relationship between globalisation and international migration.
The events unfolding daily in relation to migration, from the crisis at the border between Belarus and Poland, to the never-ending deaths in the Mediterranean, underline the ‘dark side’ of globalisation. This is the conclusion that I reach in my new book, The International Political Economy of

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How our neighbourhoods shape our European and national identities

7 days ago

How does the diversity of a neighbourhood affect the political identities of the people who live there? Drawing on new research, Dominik Schraff and Ronja Sczepanski show that those who live in neighbourhoods with a diverse mix of western and non-western immigrants are more likely to have strong European identities.  
Neighbourhoods form the social surroundings of our everyday lives. We shop, wait for public transport, and have chats with neighbours and strangers in our residential area. As the neighbourhood is such an essential part of people’s everyday lives, we explore how the ethnic composition of neighbourhoods impacts people’s European and national identities in a recent study.
European identities are an important antecedent cause for progressive attitudes safeguarding social

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The European model: A progressive alternative

8 days ago

Over the last fifteen years, the European Union has experienced multiple crises and the first withdrawal of a member state from the Union. But is Europe now destined for terminal decline? Drawing on a new book, Konrad H. Jarausch argues that far from collapsing, Europe has emerged from this period as an attractive alternative for progressive politics.
Is Europe on the verge of collapsing? This negative perception of imminent decline informs much media reporting and academic commentary on the old continent. During the last Anglo-American elections, the populist right engaged in vicious Eurobashing, conjuring up threatening visions of socialism and trade rivalry. At the same time leftist Europhile intellectuals have produced an opposite doom and gloom literature that berates the

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Book Review: Cities in the Anthropocene: New Ecology and Urban Politics by Ihnji Jon

9 days ago

In Cities in the Anthropocene: New Ecology and Urban Politics, Ihnji Jon explores how researchers, city planners and the public can develop a bottom-up approach to environmentalism in urban areas, focusing on the cities of Cape Town, Cleveland, Darwin and Tulsa. This book contributes to establishing a new approach to urban research that understands cities as complex environments and stresses the importance of collaboration with communities, finds Bouchra Tafrata.
Cities in the Anthropocene: New Ecology and Urban Politics. Ihnji Jon. Pluto Press. 2021.
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In her article ‘The City We Want: Against the Banality of Urban Planning Research’, Ihnji Jon reflects on the current state of academia and how a space of intellectual exercise is being threatened by

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Eight components for ‘open social science’ – An agenda for cultural change

11 days ago

The open science movement has been gathering force in STEM disciplines for many years, and some of its procedural elements have also been adopted by quantitative social scientists. However, little work has yet been done on exploring how more ambitious open science principles might be deployed across both the qualitative and quantitative social science disciplines. Patrick Dunleavy sets out some initial ideas to foster a cultural shift towards open social science, explored in a current CIVICA project.
The open science (OS) agenda has grown markedly in recent years, perhaps threatening to become ‘all things to everybody’ in the most inchoate accounts of what OS means. Yet so far, despite some optimistic recent findings, OS practices have made a relatively modest impression in many

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Understanding China-EU relations in the context of the Belt and Road initiative

12 days ago

In December, the EU unveiled a new ‘Global Gateway’ project that has been widely viewed as an attempt to challenge the influence of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Catherine Jones assesses what the future might hold for China-EU relations.
Changes are coming thick and fast in relations between China, the EU, and EU member states. The presence of China as a significant – but strained – international actor is exacerbating existing fissures in relations among ‘western states’ that will make coordinated international action more difficult. In the context of China’s relations with the EU (as an institution) and the member states these tensions are already apparent.
As eastern and southern member states leverage the opportunity of China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI), and as northern

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How preference votes affect the allocation of seats in the European Parliament

13 days ago

Citizens in some EU member states are given the opportunity to select their preferred candidates when voting for parties competing in European Parliament elections. But do these systems actually result in meaningful differences in the allocation of seats? Drawing on newly collected data, Thomas Däubler and Mihail Chiru explore the impact preference votes have on the composition of the Parliament.
Elections to the European Parliament are an impressive exercise of popular sovereignty. In 2019, over half a billion people from across 28 member states chose their representatives, who together constitute one legislative body. The EU treaties specify that MEPs are elected ‘by direct universal suffrage in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States or in accordance with

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Does Turkey’s economic crisis spell the end for Erdogan?

14 days ago

Turkey is currently in the midst of an economic crisis, with the Turkish lira plummeting in value and inflation hitting its highest level since 2002. Balki Begumhan Bayhan writes that ahead of elections set to be held in 2023, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan now risks losing his hold on power.
Once seen as an emerging economy and one of the 21st century’s success stories, things are not looking so bright in Turkey. Although the country has experienced a number of economic problems in the past, the past year has been an especially challenging one.
With the Turkish lira slumping to record lows and the country experiencing skyrocketing inflation, Turkey’s economy is quickly accelerating downwards. This presents a risk for the country’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose

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Inside Britain’s financial revolution

15 days ago

Since the 1970s, the world economy has been characterised by a process of financialisation. Britain has played a key role in this trend by helping to create a financialised global order and establishing the City of London as a central hub. But why did the UK choose to propel this process? Drawing on a new book, Jack Copley explains why the emergence of financialisation in the UK is best understood as an accidental outcome rather than as the product of a coherent neoliberal ideology.
It is increasingly common for political economists to claim that capitalism has become ‘financialised’. Financialisation refers to a range of interrelated phenomena that have come to characterise the world economy since the 1970s: from the rise of shareholder value ideology, to the growth of colossal

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Book Review: Behavioral Insights by Michael Hallsworth and Elspeth Kirkman

16 days ago

In Behavioral Insights, Michael Hallsworth and Elspeth Kirkman offer a pragmatic and engaging new overview of behavioural informed design, exploring its history, application, limitations and its future possibilities. Gee Connolly recommends the book to anyone looking for a succinct and clear summary of the behavioural insights approach as well as tangible techniques for applying insights to real-world scenarios.
Behavioral Insights (MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series). Michael Hallsworth and Elspeth Kirkman. MIT Press. 2020.
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Newcomers to behavioural public policy have a new book to get a first dip into the field. Behavioral Insights is a pragmatic and engaging overview of behavioural informed design, its history, application in practice,

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Why is Poland’s ruling party building closer links with right-wing Eurosceptic groups?

19 days ago

Poland’s right-wing governing party appears to believe the EU political establishment is becoming irredeemably hostile to it, and that it needs to seek out allies that share its view of the European integration project, writes Aleks Szczerbiak. But there may be short-term political costs to building links with radical Eurosceptic parties that have pro-Russian sympathies and are less influential within the EU’s institutions.
At the beginning of December, the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) grouping, Poland’s ruling party since autumn 2015, hosted the so-called Warsaw Summit, a high-profile meeting of conservative and right-wing Eurosceptic parties. These parties are currently split between two main factions in the European Parliament (EP). Law and Justice is a member of the European

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Book Review: Embodied Inquiry: Research Methods by Jennifer Leigh and Nicole Brown

23 days ago

In Embodied Inquiry: Research Methods, Jennifer Leigh and Nicole Brown offer an introductory, practical guide to embodied research. Laura Shobiye recommends the book to anyone who wants to understand how embodied inquiry might be approached and how it relates to established theoretical frameworks and methodologies.
Embodied Inquiry: Research Methods. Jennifer Leigh and Nicole Brown. Bloomsbury. 2021.
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Embodied Inquiry is a relatively short book in which Jennifer Leigh and Nicole Brown provide an introduction to the concepts of ‘embodied’ and ’embodiment’ in the context of research projects. In keeping with the book’s themes, I have read and reviewed the book in line with its stated aim of providing an introductory, practical guide, influenced by my

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Partisanship and vaccination rates: Conservatives are more likely to be vaccinated than Labour supporters

December 23, 2021

Does political partisanship affect the likelihood of an individual choosing to get vaccinated against Covid-19? Using data from constituencies across England, Margaryta Klymak and Tim Vlandas show that Conservative voters and those who live in Conservative constituencies are more likely to be vaccinated than Labour supporters.
The UK has over 10 million confirmed cases and more than 145,000 deaths, making it one of the most affected countries by the Covid-19 pandemic. Similar to other governments across the world, the UK had initially attempted to contain Covid-19 with a national lockdown.
These measures have been found to be effective at reducing transmission, but vaccination is now the safest and most effective way of containing the pandemic while keeping the economy open.

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Book Review: Discriminating Data: Correlation, Neighborhoods, and the New Politics of Recognition by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun

December 19, 2021

In Discriminating Data: Correlation, Neighborhoods, and the New Politics of Recognition, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun explores how technological developments around data are amplifying and automating discrimination and prejudice. Through conceptual innovation and historical details, this book offers engaging and revealing insights into how data exacerbates discrimination in powerful ways, writes David Beer. 
Discriminating Data: Correlation, Neighborhoods, and the New Politics of Recognition. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun (mathematical illustrations by Alex Barnett). MIT Press. 2021.
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Going back a couple of decades, there was a fair amount of discussion of ‘the digital divide’. Uneven access to networked computers meant that a line was drawn between those who were

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How emotions shape debates in the European Parliament

December 17, 2021

Over the last decade, an emerging body of research has sought to uncover the role that emotions play in politics. Drawing on two new studies, Rosa M. Sanchez Salgado assesses the impact emotions have on debates in the European Parliament and the wider EU policy process.
EU officials and representatives are usually pictured as technocratic and rational individuals. There is a general expectation that emotions – which are traditionally viewed as standing in opposition to rationality and objectivity – will have little impact on their decision-making process. Indeed, when emotions appear in discursive practices and deliberation, there is often significant pressure to put them to one side.
Yet, recent research I have conducted on the role of emotions in the European Parliament and the

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Why Germany and Sweden have much to gain from closer cooperation

December 16, 2021

Germany and Sweden count each other among their closest allies, but the focus of their bilateral relations has evolved significantly over recent decades. Drawing on recent developments, Nima Khorrami writes there is a clear incentive for the two countries to pursue closer cooperation in areas such as mining and space technology.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid a state visit to Sweden in early September. Invited by the Swedish King, the most critical leg of the trip was the final day, which saw him flying to the Arctic city of Kiruna. Coming off the back of a speech at the Riksdag, where Steinmeier emphasised the need to strengthen “the triangle of climate protection, economic competitivity, and social balance”, the German President’s first stop was the Esrange Space

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How political groups frame gender equality and human rights in the European Parliament

December 15, 2021

The European Parliament has passed a number of resolutions that support gender equality and LGBTQI rights. Yet among MEPs, there remain sharp differences in opinion over these issues. Drawing on a new study, Petra Ahrens, Barbara Gaweda and Johanna Kantola identify how these debates are structured between political groups in the Parliament.
The EU presents itself as a stronghold of gender equality and LGBTQI rights, as well as a ‘Community of Values’. Yet, within Europe, these principles are frequently contested by actors such as the religious right. One of the main forms of opposition that is expressed by these actors is a challenge to the notion that women’s rights are ‘human rights’. The religious right has often articulated this perspective by replacing the language of human

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Britain’s social care system remains far from ‘fixed’

December 14, 2021

The UK government released a new White Paper on the reform of adult social care at the beginning of December. The paper outlines the government’s strategy for ‘fixing social care’, but as Bernard Casey explains, the strategy fails to overcome the problem of means-testing. He also makes comparisons with Germany, where, despite a Long-Term Care Insurance Scheme operating since the mid-1990s, means-testing has persisted there, too.
In September, the UK government announced it had “fix[ed] the crisis in social care once and for all” by introducing a new, dedicated levy on labour incomes. This would raise some £11.4bn per year. At the start of December, it released a White Paper on Adult Social Care Reform that laid out more details. Over the next three years, an additional £5.4bn would

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Why does the EU look different through English eyes?

December 13, 2021

The Brexit referendum was dominated by simplistic visions of the European Union. Critics portrayed the EU as vacuuming money out of the UK to support an overweening Brussels bureaucracy, while Remain supporters appeared tongue-tied in making a positive case to stay in the EU. Drawing on a new book, Richard Pomfret argues the process of European economic integration has alternated between periods of reform and apparent gridlock, but with substantial cumulative change over the last 75 years. At each major step, the UK hesitated or followed a false trail.
For Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, economic integration was an instrument for preventing renewed war in Europe. The project has been successful. In the 75 years up to 1945, Europe suffered three

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Book Review: How to Stop Fascism: History, Ideology, Resistance by Paul Mason

December 12, 2021

In How to Stop Fascism: History, Ideology, Resistance, Paul Mason warns readers of the fascist danger that lies ahead and provides a practical guide on how to fight back. Connecting the historical emergence of fascism to today’s conditions, this book is a timely call to consider the emerging threat of a new fascism and offers guidance on how to stop its rise today, writes Ilker Kalin.
If you are interested in this book review, you can watch a video or listen to a podcast of Paul Mason discussing How to Stop Fascism as part of an LSE public event, recorded on 14 October 2021. 
How to Stop Fascism: History, Ideology, Resistance. Paul Mason. Allen Lane. 2021.
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A thought-provoking, uneasy and striking statement of ‘Fascism is back’ opens How to Stop

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Without stronger support from the West, Ukraine will continue to live under the threat of invasion

December 10, 2021

The deployment of thousands of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border has raised fears of a possible invasion. Oleg Chupryna reflects on the eight years that have passed since the beginning of the Euromaidan revolution and examines what the future might hold for Ukraine.
In November, Ukraine marked the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the Euromaidan revolution, the third revolution in this former Soviet country since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The revolution, which started as a protest against the unexpected refusal of then President Viktor Yanukovych to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union, marked Ukraine’s final breakaway from centuries of dependency on Russia and seemingly set the country on a path toward Europe and further democratisation.
Yet in the

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Sustaining democracy: The moral burden of citizenship

December 9, 2021

When debates become polarised, it can be tempting to treat political opponents as obstacles rather than fellow citizens. Yet as Robert B. Talisse explains, this refusal to engage with the other side not only carries negative implications for democracy, but also produces ineffective, conformist coalitions that are incapable of realising their political aims. If citizens want to achieve their goals in a democracy, they must find a way to work with their opponents.
Democracy isn’t easy. For it to thrive, a lot needs to go right. Citizens must be informed and active. Lawmakers must seek the common good. Institutions must be accessible. Policies must be fair. News outlets must be reliable. That’s a tall order.
These difficulties are compounded because the task of addressing political

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Why emotions are key to understanding EU foreign policy

December 8, 2021

EU foreign policy is often viewed as a rational and technocratic exercise, but do emotions also play a role in shaping foreign policy outcomes? Drawing on a new special issue, Seda Gürkan and Özlem Terzi explain why emotions should be a central focus in EU foreign policy research.
The announcement of the ‘Aukus’ pact between Australia, the UK and the United States in September provoked a furious reaction from French President Emmanuel Macron. Such a visible display of anger might appear rare among world leaders, but it underlined the important role that emotions can play in international relations. Indeed, over the last two decades, increasing academic attention has been focused on how emotions shape foreign policy and how these processes can be studied.
Yet, despite this recent

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How countries gamed the World Bank’s business rankings

December 7, 2021

The World Bank announced in September that it would discontinue its ‘Doing Business’ reports after data irregularities were uncovered. André Broome analyses why the reports were discredited and explains how countries have ‘gamed’ the Ease of Doing Business rankings since they were first introduced in 2005.
In August 2020 the World Bank announced that the publication of its flagship Doing Business reports had been suspended. Internal concerns about possible data manipulation were raised by World Bank staff in June 2020 in connection with the calculation of country scores for Azerbaijan, China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Published annually since 2003 with country rankings introduced in 2005, the Doing Business reports were a high-profile and influential global

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Bodies at borders: Why it is vital to humanise migrants

December 6, 2021

The British and French governments have traded accusations of blame following the deaths of 27 people who drowned while trying to cross the English Channel. Louise Ryan and Maria Lopez argue that above all we must remember that those who died were not simply ‘migrants’, but human beings with their own stories and potential contributions to make to British society.
On 24 November, reports of the ‘drowning of 27 migrants’ in the English Channel made headlines across the UK. The incident came amid record numbers of asylum seekers attempting to cross the Channel and further highlighted the dehumanisation and objectification of migrant ‘bodies at borders’.
The British government steadfastly refuses to take responsibility, instead pointing the finger of blame at the French for failing to

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Book Review: The Great Recoil: Politics after Populism and Pandemic by Paolo Gerbaudo

December 5, 2021

In The Great Recoil: Politics after Populism and Pandemic, Paolo Gerbaudo explores how the crises of populism and the COVID-19 pandemic are giving rise to a ‘great recoil’ from neoliberal globalisation, leading to the return of the state and notions of sovereignty, protection and control. While Gerbaudo outlines how the left can seize this moment to build a society of care committed to overlapping visions of equality and security, Marco Bitschnau remains unconvinced by the book’s interpretation of the long-term impact of populism and the pandemic.  
The Great Recoil: Politics after Populism and Pandemic. Paolo Gerbaudo. Verso. 2021.
The future’s uncertain and the end is always near
– The Doors, Roadhouse Blues (1970)
Times of crisis are times of change – but also times to

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