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.
Researchers have long studied the motives that inspire people to join in collective action. Three factors have received particular attention: anger caused by apparent social injustice; belief in the efficacy of collective action; and politicised identity. New studies have recently prompted a team of scholars, including a HSE researcher, to incorporate two additional factors into the existing model: ideology and moral obligation.
Europe wants to live in a democracy. This is especially true for residents of countries of Northern Europe, but less so for those of former socialist countries, especially Russia. While almost everyone has a positive attitude towards democracy, people have different understandings of it. Alla Salmina studied the relationship between attitudes and understandings of it using the data of 28 countries that participated in the European Social Survey (ESS).
‘We tried to give them a bright future.’ These are the words of engineers, construction workers, geologists, doctors and other specialists from the former Soviet republic regarding the years they spent in Mongolia. Those Soviet-era specialists are still united by the memory of trying to build something on such a grand scale and then seeing the whole project collapse. More than 100 members of that community agreed to be interviewed in-depth by political scientist Alexei Mikhalev. Here, he shares information from their collective memory with IQ.HSE.
‘State capacity’ refers to a state’s ability to make and effectively implement decisions in domestic and foreign policy. In a study, HSE University political scientists evaluated the state capacity of 142 countries. Based on their findings, the researchers created and trialed a state capacity index, identified eight models of state capacity, and compiled a general international ranking.
In September 2019, the School of Political Science and the School of Public Administration at the Faculty of Social Sciences will merge into the School of Politics and Governance. The opening of the newly unified school will bring big changes to the structure and contents of educational programmes.
Andrei Melville, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, spoke with the HSE News Service about the merger of two schools and the outlook for political science at HSE University.
While much of the focus on politics and global affairs over the past several decades has been on democratization, the most striking thing about this period has been the survival and spread of authoritarian regimes, argues Graeme Gill, Emeritus Professor in the Department of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney. Professor Gill is one of the presenters at the upcoming XX April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development, scheduled this year for April 9-12 at the Higher School of Economics.
More than twenty years after the collapse of the socialist bloc, virtually none of the post-communist countries have attained the level of socioeconomic development characteristic of advanced democracies. Likewise, none of the post-communist countries have emerged as successful autocracies with high-quality public institutions, such as those found in Singapore or Oman. Professor Andrei Melville, Dean of the HSE Faculty of Social Sciences, and Mikhail Mironyuk, Associate Professor of the HSE School of Political Science, examine possible reasons why it is so.
Students of the international Master’s programme in Comparative Social Research, which opened in 2014, spent their first semester studying at the Moscow campus of the Higher School of Economics; the second semester was spent in St. Petersburg. Another six months will be devoted to study abroad. Mobility in the educational process is an important principle of the programme that allows future sociologists to better understand social reality. The English-language programme turned out to of interest not only to Russian students, but also to graduates of prestigious foreign universities.