Amílcar Moreira ” Does Support for Redistribution vary over the Lifecycle? A Pseudo-Panel Approach”

Amílcar Moreira did a presentation on  the potential of pseudo-panels to assess whether support for redistribution varies over the lifecycle.


Jonathan Bright “Echo chambers exist! (but they’re full of opposing views)”.

Jonathan Bright of the Oxford University Internet Institute presented a paper on how individuals in a radical ‘echo chamber’ react when exposed to opposing viewpoints.

Here’s the abstract

The theory of echo chambers, which suggests that online political discussions take place in conditions of ideological homogeneity, has recently gained popularity as an explanation for patterns of political polarization and radicalisation observed in many democratic countries. However, while micro level experimental work has shown evidence that individuals might tend to create echo chambers, recent macro level studies have cast doubt on whether they exist in practice. Indeed, research has demonstrated that individuals (especially those who are politically engaged) are frequently exposed to ‘cross cutting’ information and opinion online, with vitriolic exchanges with those holding opposing views a relatively common feature of digital political discussion.
In this article, we seek to explain these diverging results. Building on cognitive dissonance theory, and making use of observational trace data taken from an online radical right website, we explore how individuals in a radical ‘echo chamber’ react when exposed to opposing viewpoints. We show that this type of exposure, far from being detrimental to radical online discussions, is in fact a core feature and encourages people to stay engaged. We argue that the ability to repeat and practice counter-arguments to opposing (mainstream) viewpoints is the most important feature of radical echo chambers, and indeed probably what makes them so politically powerful. We conclude with reflections on policy implications for those seeking to promote a more ‘moderate’ political internet.

Luca Manucci “Populism and Collective Memory- Comparing Fascist Legacies in Western Europe”

Luca Manucci, presented a book about populism and collective memory in western Europe which is about to be published with Routledge

Here’s a description of the book:

Right-wing populism is a global phenomenon that challenges several pillars of liberal democracy, and it is often described as a dangerous political ideology because it resonates with the fascist idea of power in terms of anti-pluralism and lack of minorities’ protection. In Western Europe, many political actors are exploiting the fears and insecurities linked to globalization, economic crisis, and mass migrations to attract voters. However, while right-wing populist discourses are mainstream in certain countries, they are almost completely taboo in others. Why in Italy, Austria, and France right-wing populism is so successful while in Germany it is marginal and socially unacceptable? It is because each country developed a certain collective memory of the fascist past, which stigmatizes that past to different levels. For this reason, right-wing populism can find favorable conditions to thrive in certain countries while in others it is considered as an illegitimate and dangerous idea of power. Through a comparative study of eight European countries, this book shows that short-term factors linked to levels of corruption, economic situation, and quality of democracy, interact with long-term cultural elements and collective memories in determining the social acceptability of right-wing populist discourses.


Joris Alberdingk “Mechanisms of scandal disclosure in 21st century Brazil” 

Joris Alberdingk a PhD 1st year student presented a chapter of his master thesis that aims understand how and why the incriminating information that set off the scandals of Mensalão and Petrolão/Lava Jato  in Brazil was brought to the public eye.

Here’s the abstract

A lot has been written about the consequences of the big scandals of Mensalão and Petrolão/Lava Jato which marked Brazil in the first two decades of this century. However, little research has gone into how and why the incriminating information that set off the scandals was brought to the public eye. This article aims to shed more light on the matter by identifying and examining different causal mechanisms leading to information about official misconduct being disclosed, based on interviews with Brazilian media professionals, an ex-president of the Supreme Court, and a veteran political scientist. It was found that the roles of the media, law-enforcement and the judiciary have shifted considerably between Mensalão and Lava Jato.


Lea Heyne “Why Perceived Deprivation Matters: Social Status and Support for Democracy in Europe”

Lea Heyne presented a paper about the effects of subjective and objective social status on citizens’ expectations and evaluations of democracy

Here’s the abstract:

Why do losers like democracy less than winners? The fact that social status has an impact on satisfaction with democracy is, while empirically established, often overlooked in the literature. This paper analyses the effects of subjective and objective social status on citizens’ expectations and evaluations of democracy. I argue that relative deprivation, defined as the notion of being left behind in society and disadvantaged by social inequality, systematically affects the way citizens judge their own democracy: The lower their status, the more they support substantive over procedural democracy, and the more critical they see their own democracies. Using data for 26 countries from the European Social Survey 6, I test whether citizens’ attitudes towards democracy are affected by perceived deprivation as well as objective socio-economic status. Results show that a low status leads citizens to value democratic dimensions differently – they prefer social justice over liberal criteria. Additionally, low status citizens also evaluate the performance of their own democratic system in all dimensions significantly more critical than their higher status counterparts. These two effects combined create a bigger difference between low-status citizens’ expectations and evaluations, especially in the social dimension, causing them to be more prone to democratic dissatisfaction. I further find differences across countries: Citizens in former communist countries and countries affected by the Eurocrisis generally have higher expectations of democracy, while simultaneously evaluating their own democratic systems more negatively. In Western Europe, on the other hand, social status affects citizens’ attitudes more strongly than in the other country groups.

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