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Regular version of the site

HSE Political Scientists Discuss Their Research at APSA Meeting

In San Francisco, the 111th annual meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) – one of the largest international conferences in the field of political science – recently took place. Scholars from HSE presented their research on forum panels such as ‘Fiscal Politics in Federal Systems’, ‘Social Policy in Non-democracies: Dynamics of Social Policy Debates in Russia’, ‘Incumbents and Elections in Developing Countries’, and ‘Power in 21st Century World Politics’.

Among the 7,000 participants gathered from around the world, both recognized stars of political science and young scholars could be found. HSE researchers presented reports that were primarily devoted to Russia. Ekaterina Borisova, Andrei Govorun, Denis Ivanov and Irina Levina presented on the topic ' Who to Help? Trust and Preferences over Redistribution in Russia’. The researchers found that if a person lives in a region with a high level of confidence, he or she would favour government support (in the form of income redistribution) for deserving categories of citizens (e.g., veterans of war and labour, as well as retirees). However, he or she believes that the poor, the homeless, and those who have lost their jobs do not deserve or merit such care from the state, or that they do so to a lesser extent.

The study's authors explain such a phenomenon by people's confidence in the fairness of the existing world (just world beliefs) according to the hypothesis developed by the renowned economists Roland Benabou and Jean Tirole. The logic is that if the world is fair, the poor and the homeless are the way they are due to their own laziness, lack of effort, etc. Accordingly, deserving citizens need to be rewarded so that they create incentives for productive work in society.

The paper also proposed two additional theoretical mechanisms explaining the connection between trust and attitudes toward redistribution. The first is the replacement of the state with social capital (substitution of government), when at higher trust and higher standards of mutual assistance those who are poor are simply helped to find a job, so they are less of a priority for government support. The second mechanism - trust as morality - connects trust with higher standards of prosocial behaviour and an unwillingness to redistribute income to those who may pretend to be poor, out of work, etc. (categories of deserving citizens have fewer opportunities for such mimicry).

 The value of political research methodology is growing, and all interested scientists should be able to learn the latest methods

However, HSE's participation in the conference did not stop with reports on Russia, as the university's research interests are very diverse. 'Balance of Power in a Networked World' was one project presented, which is currently being carried out at HSE’s International Laboratory for Applied Network Research together with the Research Committee on Political Power of the International Political Science Association (MAPN); this project is primarily aimed at finding solutions to problems of testing international relations theories by means of network analysis.

Sergei Akopov, Associate Professor at HSE St. Petersburg, along with his co-author Iain Ferguson, prepared a poster, a type of scientific communication that requires not only skill in presenting the topic of research but also the correct visualization skills. The poster on 'Russia's Double Standards of Civilization' provided an analysis of the features of civilizational rhetoric in the legitimization of contemporary Russian foreign policy and the interpretation of the nature of state sovereignty.

Mahama Tawat, Associate Professor at HSE's Public Policy Department, served as the chair of the 'Diaspora and democracy' panel, which was held to discuss issues concerning the Indian diaspora in the United States and presidential decrees concerning the children of illegal immigrants born in the United States.

Particular attention was paid to teaching practices and the development of political science. At the invitation of Professor Dirk Berg-Schlosser, who has cooperated with HSE for many years, Alina Vladimirova, Junior Research Fellow at the International Laboratory for Applied Network Research, presented at a roundtable organized jointly by APSA and IPSA on 'Perspectives on International Research & Methods Workshops’. The value of political research methodology is growing, and all interested scientists should be able to learn the latest methods. Over the past 10 years, methodological schools for political scientists have been held not only in the United States and Europe but also in Asia, Africa and Latin America. IPSA President Aiji Tanaka, who attended the roundtable, proposed continuing the discussion of this topic at the World Congress of the International Political Science Association next year.

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'State Owes Me': Social Justice, as Seen by Russian University Undergraduates

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