Administrative corruption and implementation
Corruption is a rising problem in Europe after the expansion of the EU to include a range of post-communist countries. Why there is such a high degree of corruption in these countries is hard to make sense of. Several researchers suggest that the Soviet administration has fostered a culture in which corruption is an accepted norm. Others point out that the conversion to a market economy, the privatisation of government property and general impoverishment have given increased incentive to enter into corrupt relations. This research project is focused on the question of whether reforms of public administration have further facilitated the individual public employee’s ability to make decisions to his/her personal economic benefit, i.e. enabling corrupt behaviour, and whether these employees find this kind of behaviour acceptable.
Project manager: Karin Hilmer Pedersen
Autonomy and Quality in Care
Within the framework of this larger research programme, the specific research project is entitled ‘Equal access to local health services through national regulation of coordination?’ This is a comparative analysis of Denmark and Norway; it is based on health agreements, which encompass the national, regional and local levels, and focuses on the hospital discharge of older patients as a particularly challenging case of coordination.
Project manager: Viola Burau
BNE - Building a New Europe (Euro-reforms)
What are the causes and consequences of the new ‘integration by stealth’ mode of constitutional reform in the EU? The BNE project aims first to catalogue systematically how the new mode differs from past rounds, followed by an explanatory analysis using both variation-based and case-based designs aimed at assessing the causes and the consequences of the new mode.
Principal investigator: Derek Beach
Categorization among Danish Street-Level Bureaucrats
The aim of this research project is to investigate categorization practices of three different street-level bureaucrats: Home nurses, Teachers and pree-school teachers. The objective is to investigate how and by what means they understand the manifold and differentiated social realities confronting them every day, and further to understand the crucial factors shaping the categorization of citizens.
Project website: www.categorization.dk
Causes and Policy Consequenses of Agenda Setting (CAPCAS)
This project investigates why societal problems gain or lose attention on the political agenda and how this agenda setting process matters for policy decisions. It is well-described in the agenda-setting literature how political systems tend to ignore even very serious problems for prolonged periods of time. The objective of this project is to develop and test a new theory about how the political agenda and policy decisions are shaped by the interaction of problems, preferences of the policymakers, and the institutional design of the policymaking process. Focusing on the effect of one variable at the time – problems, preferences, or institutions – might be justifiable if they were just additive components of a general model of public policymaking. The contention of this project, however, is that they work in combination, which implies that the combined effects of problems, institutions, and preferences deserve far more scholarly attention than they have typically received.
Project Manager: Peter Bjerre Mortensen
Causes of Bureaucratization
This research project is focused on the rule-based bureaucratization of Danish society. In previous research on the topic and in the public debate, many claims have been made about the extent and speed of the increase in regulations and about what has caused this development. In answer to the former issue, the results of this project suggest that the actual net growth has in fact been far more moderate compared to what earlier research has deduced. And in answer to what explains the development, the results challenge common perceptions of the major influence commonly ascribed to government officials, media and the EU. A central conclusion of this project is that these perceptions and the research-based literature on rule based bureaucratization tends to overlook how essential (the competition between) the political parties are to these processes. Moreover, the results of the project suggest that new management ideas, which are often put forward as alternatives to strict regulation, have not helped lower the amount of regulation - quite the opposite, actually. The project thus contributes to both the research-based discussion about bureaucratization and regulation of the public sector and to the common social debate about bureaucratization and deregulation, which - as this project has shown - has formerly been conducted on a misleading basis.
How can one promote democratisation without also increasing the risk of violent conflicts? The researchers behind CODE will work to find the answer to this question.
Two of the most important objectives in Danish and Western foreign policy is to promote democratisation and prevent violent conflict. Earlier research has shown that democratisation processes tend to trigger conflict – sometimes even civil wars. But how should this dilemma be tackled? Is it possible to establish both peace and freedom at the same time? And how can Western governments and NGOs contribute to preventing or resolving conflict without setting aside the democratic ideals?
Project manager: Jørgen Møller
Project website: ps.au.dk/code
The CUPESSE project carries out a comparative analysis of both the demand and supply side of youth unemployment in eight EU Member States. We expect that investigating this cross-country variation allows for achieving a comprehensive understanding of the causes and effects of the very high levels of unemployment among young people in Europe, which should subsequently allow us to better assess the effects and effectiveness of labor market policies designed to mitigate this phenomenon.
Project manager: Carsten Jensen
Since the beginning of the 1900s, still more countries have become democratic, but the process has been unclear, characterised by repeated relapses or periods of stagnation. The researchers involved in the project DEDERE aim to answer three questions:
- What are the overall patterns of democratic progress and decline in the period 1900-2012?
- How can we explain these patterns?
- And to what extent do we see similar causes and correlations across different periods and regions?
Project manager: Svend-Erik Skaaning
Project website: ps.au.dk/dedere
The Danish Election Project
The Danish Election Project was founded in 1971 and has conducted nation-wide representative surveys of all subsequent elections. The main purpose of the surveys is to identify the main reasons why people vote as they do.
Project manager: Rune Stubager
Project website: www.valgprojektet.dk
DSE Pupil involvement
The purpose of the project is promote pupil involvement in teaching activities at Danish primary and lower secondary schools and measure the ensuing effects on the pupils’ academic results, their well-being in school, learning motivation and social commitment. Among the public institutions in Denmark, primary and lower secondary schooling contributes the most to shaping individuals - it affects the children not just while they are in school, but also in their future lives. Accordingly, the organisation of the teaching is expected to have a major influence on the pupils’ academic abilities as well as their ability to engage in social relationships and their commitment to societal issues.
The project seeks to examine the hypothesis that pupil involvement in academic learning activities contributes to consolidating the pupils’ academic skills as well as their social commitment. The study is carried out as a randomised trial through which a class of pupils receive an intervention with the purpose of strengthening their involvement in the teaching activities. The trial involves 8th grade lower secondary school pupils in the school year 2014/15.
Diverging Welfare State Reform in Scandinavia
The universal welfare state is probably the most characteristic feature of all the Scandinavian countries. Traditionally, it was believed that universal welfare states could only arise because this form was favoured by the middle class. But today, the universal welfare state is under pressure like never before. This project aims to investigate whether the crisis of the universal welfare state can be ascribed to the fact that the middle class has turned its back on the welfare state.
External Influences on Political Crises in Authoritarian Regimes
The project examines how external actors (nation states and international organisations) influence the ability of dictators to maintain power in times of political crisis. In order to investigate this, the project will develop a database of all political crisis situations experienced by dictators worldwide in the post-Cold War period, and describe the role played by external actors in these crises situations. In this way the project will help us understand why some dictators succeed in remaining in power while others are deposed, thereby providing a greater insight into the factors that contribute to provoke political revolutions and regime changes all over the world.
Project manager: Jakob Tolstrup
Ethnic diversity and social cohesion
A study of the significance of a neighbourhood’s ethnic makeup for the establishment of trust between people.
The consequences of increasing immigration and ensuing ethnic diversity are central in the political debate in Denmark as well as in international social science research. A basic question here is how the encounter with immigrants in the neighbourhood shapes the majority population’s view on ethnic minorities and other people in general. Is the encounter marked by positive reactions and contributes to counteracting prejudice about ethnic minorities and promoting a positive view on people that we do not know? Or is it rather marked by conflict and bad experiences, which in turn foster a negative view on people with different ethnic backgrounds and cause the majority to have less trust in other people in general? The researchers’ goal is to get closer to answering these questions.
Project manager: Kim Mannemar Sønderskov and Peter Thisted Dinesen (UCPH).
The project "Measuring the Performance of the European Union in International Institutions" analyses the European Union as a global actor. Focus is on EU’s performance in international institutions. The main aims of the research project are the following four points:
- Increase scientific knowledge about the role of the EU as a global actor.
- Develop and advance academic understanding on performance as a dependent variable in institutional interaction.
- Identify key factors influencing the EU’s performance in the selected international institutions.
- Generate comprehensive and comparative data concerning the EU’s role in international institutions.
Project manager: Knud Erik Jørgensen
Lone Actor Extremist Events (LOEEs) are terrorist attacks carried out by individuals acting alone, which can be highly damaging to local and national communities. Because they have the potential to inflict considerable human, social and political harm, LOEEs have been a growing source of concern, notably in the Western world. LOEEs remain relatively rare occurrences, which is a good thing. Yet that very rarity is also what makes these terrorist events hard to detect, disrupt, and recover from.
The EU-funded PRIME Project aims to improve our understanding of lone actor terrorism and to inform the design of social and physical counter-measures for the prevention of lone-actor radicalisation, the disruption of lone-actor terrorist plots, and the mitigation of terrorist attacks carried out by lone extremists.
In this endeavour, PRIME adopts an innovative multidisciplinary approach, which combines formal modelling techniques drawn from security engineering with expertise from the ecological, social, behavioural and criminological sciences. The end-product will be a decision-support tool for end-users whose remit is to deal with the lone actor terrorism threat at the local, national or international level.
Project leader: Lasse Lindekilde
Project website: www.fp7-prime.eu
Experiments with two-person teaching teams
The researchers behind the project aim to examine the effects of different two-person teaching approaches. The effects are measured on the extent of inclusion and special needs education in relation to the pupils’ well-being and academic development. At the same time, the researchers focus on the extent to which different management and teaching factors affect the outcome of the two-person teaching approaches.
This is largely a randomised experiment, which is carried out on behalf of the Danish Ministry of Education.
Trial programme on mother tongue-based education
This project seeks to examine the effects of different approaches to expanded education with a special focus on students with an immigrant background. The effects are measured on the well-being and academic development of the students. At the same time, the researchers focus on the extent to which different management and teaching factors affect the outcome of the different endeavours.
This is largely a randomised experiment, which is carried out on behalf of the Danish Ministry of Education.
How to Win with Words?
Automatic Biases and the Strength of Political Communication
Voters in modern society are on a daily basis faced with a flow of messages from politicians and other political elites. Some of these messages have a clear impact on voter attitudes. Just as often, however, politicians fail to communicate persuasively. Why do some communication attempts from political elites have a powerful impact on public opinion while others fail? Through a unique combination of cross-national surveys and laboratory experiments, the project investigates the claim that political communication that fit certain psychological biases are stronger and influence voter attitudes more than political communication that does not resonate with our biases.
Project website (the 'PoNE Lab' research unit): www.ps.au.dk/en/ponelab
Improving public service provision
The project aims to investigate the potential of reforming public service provision. A well-functioning public service delivery system is a sine qua non of a modern welfare state. But a large public sector raises several challenges. Public services consume a large share of GDP, which makes efficiency an obvious concern. At the same time quality, responsiveness, and equal access are important. Securing high performance on all relevant criteria represents a considerable challenge and, not surprisingly, governments constantly try to improve performance by reforming the provision of public services. This has been a trend for the past 10-20 years, and efforts are not slowing down. What types of reforms work? Do reforms have both intended and unintended effects? Do reforms have beneficial effects on e.g. efficiency, but negative effects on other criteria, e.g. responsiveness?
Project Manager: Søren Serritzlew
Project website: impuse.au.dk
INTERARENA - Interest Groups across Political Arenas
In all democratic societies a wide spectrum of interest groups seek political influence. The project: “INTERARENA – Interest Groups across Political Arenas” analyzes group influence towards the bureaucracy, parliament and the media. Among things the project seeks to establish which groups are successful in attracting the attention of the media or bureaucrats and thus affecting political and administrative decisions.
Project website: interarena.dk
Analysing the effects of leadership training and leadership strategies on organisational performance, we will contribute to the international literature on leadership and the domestic debate on steering and performance. We include both public and private organisations to test whether leadership effects differ between the sectors. We distinguish between transactional leadership based on exchange of rewards for effort and transformational leadership where leaders are focused on changing their followers' motivation and values.
Project manager: Lotte Bøgh Andersen
Project website: leap-project.dk
This project is concerned with what it means to carry out empirical research according to Luhmann’s system theory. The theme is thus methodological, but the approach is empirically founded, as the method itself is not analysed in an abstract manner solely for its own sake; rather, it is applied to areas such as organisation, personnel policy, statehood, regional research, welfare and health, language research, and so on.
Project manager: Gorm Harste
Meeting Tiger, Dragon, Lion and Jaguar
Challenges of European External Energy Governance with Emerging Powers
The economic crisis and growing competition from emerging markets such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa are putting EU ambitions of reducing carbon emissions under pressure. The project investigates how the EU can collaborate with competing emerging markets on energy solutions.
Project manager: Knud Erik Jørgensen
The Methodology of Political Theory
Thought experiments, intuition and challenges derived from experimental philosophy
The standard method in political philosophy involves the use of thought experiments and intuition as grounds for applying specific theories, principles and concrete political initiatives. However, in the field of so-called experimental philosophy, researchers have shown that people’s intuition is also affected by various irrelevant factors. If the arguments advocated by experimental philosophy are correct, it raises doubts about the standard method applied in the field of political philosophy. This project therefore takes up the challenge and examines whether and how the use of thought experiments can be justified in spite of the results put forward by experimental philosophy.
Project manager: Rasmus Sommer Hansen
This project investigates the links between citizens, political topics and political parties. The claim is that, in the work to establish their political agendas, parties focus on specific topics with a view to attracting new voters. A decisive weakness of this approach is, however, that it disregards the different characteristics of different citizens. It is not likely that all citizens will have the same reactions and take the same position on the same political topics. The project contributes to an understanding of which voters vote for which party, especially in the instance where a particular topic has been set to dominate the political debate or has been deployed by the political parties to attract new voters.
Project manager: Christoph Arndt
Passive clients or active co-producers?
Citizens’ contribution to the production of welfare services
To what extent does the public organisation of welfare services influence whether citizens act as passive clients or active co-producers of welfare services? The provision of welfare services at schools, nursing homes, hospitals, etc. can be organised in different ways in relation to, among other things, the size of the service-producing units, the location of decision-makers and initiatives that involve the citizens. The researchers build and test a number of hypotheses about how this form of organisation affects the citizens’ contribution to the production of welfare services - a contribution which is potentially an enormous resource for welfare production. The empirical studies will be carried out in schools through the use of both qualitative and quantitative data.
Project manager: Morten Jakobsen
Perceptions of Social Stratification and Voting (PERSOS)
In recent years, on an international scale, politicians, analysts and researchers have come to believe that the social stratification of voters has no significance in terms of their voting behaviour. But this conclusion is based mainly on studies of objective social groups. This project aims to go the other way and focus instead on the voters’ subjective perceptions of what the social group structure looks like, and how the voters associate themselves and the political parties with this structure. The main claim is thus that the voters perceive certain groups to be more closely connected with certain parties, and this has a significant influence on how they asses the different parties and choose a party.
Project manager: Rune Stubager
POLIS brings together researchers to study the role of political parties in contemporary Western democracies. Political parties are perhaps the most important political actors in democratic politics, and the core idea of POLIS is to study democracy through the lens of political parties and their interactions with voters and the mass media.
Project manager: Christoffer Green-Pedersen
Project website: ps.au.dk/polis
Political Institutions and the Historical Origins of Development: Unraveling the Connections
One influential explanation of the rise of the West highlights its distinctive political institutions -- variously described as "democracy," "property rights," "self-enforcing constitutions," or "rule of law." Despite the volume of work in this tradition, little is known empirically about which institutions mattered -- and for which economic and social outcomes they might have mattered -- during the takeoff period of growth in Northern Europe and North America. A central impediment is that the theories are not very specific and their core concepts are not well-measured through time. Accordingly, the institutional theory of development has proven difficult to test in a
rigorous fashion. In order to submit this theory to systematic testing, we propose to collect disaggregated data based on an expert survey that will allow us to track an array of specific institutional characteristics from 1800 onwards with broad country coverage. Outcomes of interest include all measurable aspects of economic and human development including economic growth, infrastructure, education, and life expectancy. This application is intended to support the first tranche of our historical project, with a focus on Europe and the Americas during an era in which the contours of present-day global inequality first became manifest: the 19th century. The
project is based at the department of political science, Lund University, and comprises a group of widely publicized international scholars.
Public opinion formation: Who believes what, when, and why?
In view of how much discussion there has been recently about the power of the media, the ability of spin doctors to manipulate, etc., it is surprising how little we know about political opinion formation. We know a lot about the distribution of political views, but we know very little about the more dynamic aspects of opinion formation: How does the population form political opinions, and what or who has the ability to change these opinions?
A central issue is the role of the political parties as opinion leaders. The project focuses on attitudes regarding political tolerance and the constitution of the welfare state.
Project website: www.publicopinion.dk
Practice makes imperfect
When and how should current social and political practices influence ideals about global justice?
Formålet med dette projekt er at udvikle en teoretisk ramme for at analysere og evaluere, hvordan teoretikere i debatten om global retfærdighed inkorporerer praksisser såsom nationale grænser og international institutioner i deres normative teorier. Graden af hvilken man inkorporerer nuværende praksisser har stor betydning for hvilke konklusioner man kan nå ligesom det påvirker en teoris umiddelbare politiske relevans i signifikant omfang. Ikke desto mindre er forbindelsen mellem teoriers praksis-afhængighed og deres normative konklusioner kun blevet analyseret og evalueret på relativt overordnet niveau. Dette projekt søger at klargøre denne sammenhæng og belyse hvad der er på spil i debatten og graden af hvilken uoverensstemmelser skyldes normative domme eller metodologiske valg. Dette vil kunne kaste yderligere lys på debatten om global retfærdighed generelt og mere konkret spørgsmål vedrørende hvor meget bistand vi skylder verdens fattige, den passende rolle for internationale institutioner og de principper hvorpå global samhandel bør baseres.
Project leader: David Vestergaard Axelsen
Putting Attitudes into Context
Examining the impact of neighborhood characteristics on social and political attitudes
The research project deals with the impact of the neighborhood on the Danes’ social and political attitudes and aims to investigate whether the Danes’ view on society and their fellow citizens is affected by who they meet in their community. Are our attitudes towards economic redistribution and social security affected by how often we meet people in our neighborhoods who live on social security? Do our perceptions of immigrants and attitudes towards asylum seekers change, if we frequently encounter aliens in and around the neighborhood? And will our experience of our neighbors’ backgrounds and behavior have an impact on whether we trust other people more generally? The project seeks to answer such questions and thereby deliver a scientific contribution to the ongoing debate about the consequences of immigration, worn-down neighborhoods, ghettoisation and affluent enclaves.
Project manager: Kim Mannemar Sønderskov and Peter Thisted Dinesen (UCPH).
READ - working together on reading
The project aims to help parents to help along their children’s academic development and thereby contribute to the interplay between public services and the users’ contributions to these services. The effects are measured on the children and parents’ satisfaction with and involvement in the school. The experiment is based on a previous experiment with the same cohort of children, and it will therefore be possible to compare the effects of earlier and current efforts.
This is a randomised experiment under Trygfonden’s Centre for Child Research, which is carried out in cooperation with the Department for Children and Young People, the Municipality of Aarhus.
Project manager: Simon Calmar Andersen
Regulating addictive activities
Why is there such a big difference in the way governments in different countries choose to regulate activities that can lead to addiction, such as gambling, smoking and alcohol? In some countries, the regulations are quite strict, and in others far more loose. The researchers behind the project are looking to find the reasons for this difference by researching regulations in three countries that are normally considered very much alike, namely Denmark, Holland and Norway. The project involves collecting a large set of data based on newspaper articles with the purpose of examining whether the rhetoric, how the activities are referred to in the media, has an influence on how government chooses to regulate the issues.
Project manager: Carsten Jensen
RepStyle investigates the personalization of representation by asking three fundamental questions:
1) Have politicians’ perception of their representative tasks changed, so that they think less of themselves as party agents but more as individual representatives?
2) Have politicians changed their representative behaviour so that they increasingly promote their own policy and themselves rather than the party?
3) Which factors may explain variation in personalized representation across countries, parties and individual politicians?
Head of project: Helene Helboe Pedersen
Project website: ps.au.dk/RepStyle
Scarcity of Organs
All over the world we face an acute shortage of organs. People die every day while waiting for an organ transplantation. This project takes up proposals aimed at eliminating the shortage through increasing the supply of organs. One prominent proposal is the opt-out model, where we are all considered donors by default. A second proposal is to eliminate or diminish the existing family veto, which accounts for many organs not being utilised. The third proposal is that we introduce a market in organs, seeking to increase incentives for donation.
For all three proposals, it is the case that we cannot only discuss efficiency questions; normative considerations must be taken into account as well.
Project manager: Andreas Albertsen
School management, teaching and student presentations
Based on questionnaire data from school managers and teachers as well as extensive registry data about students and their teachers, this project examines how various management and teaching factors affect the extent to which students’ benefit from their schooling.
Project manager: Søren Winter, the Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI)
Selected project participants: Vibeke Lehman Nielsen,Mogens Pedersen, Maria Falk Mikkelsen (SFI and Department of Political Science and Government) and Simon Calmar Andersen(Political Science and Government)
Do value appeals strengthen political messages?
A fundamental aspect of politics is being able to present the most convincing messages, which will cause voters to take a certain standpoint and thereby establish tomorrow’s majority. The project seeks to investigate why some political messages affect the position of voters more than others. This will be done through a new perspective, which incorporates existing research on political messages with studies of political values.
Traditional social science research has highlighted the fact that political values are central to citizens’ political opinion formation. Based on this insight, the researchers will examine the persuasiveness of value appeals in the presentation of political issues.
Project manager: Lene Aarøe
Sufficiency and capability
This project is a study of the political philosophical principle of sufficiency – that the requirements of distributive justice are fulfilled when everyone has enough. So far this doctrine has only been fully developed and defended from the viewpoint of either resourcism, arguing that the requirements of justice are fulfilled when everyone possess a sufficient amount of resources, or from the viewpoint of welfarism, arguing that justice requires that everyone is sufficiently well off in terms of welfare. Despite the fact that existing attempts to defend the doctrine of sufficiency have strengthened the position as an alternative to other distributive theories such as egalitarianism or prioritarianism, the doctrine still face serious problems: (i) threshold-fetishism; (ii) ignorance of inequalities above the threshold; (iii) theoretical groundlessness. This project argues that by restating the doctrine of sufficiency within the framework of the capability approach as opposed to resourcism and welfarism, the doctrine of sufficiency can be provided the necessary theoretical ground and therefore be further strengthened and bolstered to cope with the objections with which it is faced. The project therefore asks the following three research questions:
(I) How should sufficiency be understood if build upon key elements of capability theory?
(II) Why is capability-sufficiency more theoretical plausible than alternative versions?
(III) Why is capability-sufficiency a better distributive ideal than equality and priority?
Project leader: Lasse Nielsen
The individualization of insecurity and the normalization of exceptionalism in international security: the case of targeted killings
This project investigates the rise of individual-based tactics in the fight against terrorism, more specifically the post-9/11 use of targeted killings. In concrete, it evaluates how and why the individual has become the target of international security concern and the recipient of coercive measures. In parallel, the project inquires how and why these practices are increasingly seen as legitimate by some liberal democracies, focusing on the most extreme of them: targeted killings via drones.
Project manager: Bruno Oliveira Martins
The Governance of Coordination
Coordinating public health services for migrants in Québec
There is an extensive debate about how to address wicked problems of coordination in health services. An emerging body of studies points to the importance of governing coordination at the level of health systems. The research project aims to test and specify how this occurs by drawing on the literature on meta-governance. This is applied to an analysis of the coordination of public health services for migrants in Québec, which serves as a critical case study.
Project manager: Viola Burau
The organization of political advice
The project is concerned with the effects of different ways of organizing political ministerial advice. In a sense, the political systems in Denmark and Sweden are pretty similar. But they are very different in terms of how ministerial advice is structured. In Sweden they have numerous politically appointed government officials with administrative competences, who assist the minister. In Denmark, however, we have always adhered closely to the principles of the Weberian bureaucracy, which means that the ministers have very few special advisers, who are not allowed administrative responsibilities. The project is concerned with the consequences of these differences in the organization of political advice.
Project manager: Peter Munk Christiansen in collaboration with researchers from the University of Gothenburg
The role of distributed leadership at hospitals
The aim of the project is to examine the role of distributed leadership during periods of major organizational restructuring. Here, by distributed leadership (DL) is meant interaction between the unit of leadership and employee involvement. The primary healthcare sector is currently undergoing major structural changes, and the project takes a starting point in the political decision to reorganize and centralize specific organizational units in order to increase efficiency and productivity. The empirical part of the project will be carried out as a longitudinal study in a new hospital unit in “Region Midtjylland” (Central Denmark Region), established through mergers of former regional hospitals. Based on the assumption that employees constitute an important potential friction in any organizational change affecting work design and processes, we will investigate the role and level of employee involvement, including how it is supported by the various forms of management styles employed, together with the importance of this for both managers’ and employees’ motivation and participation in the change and renewal process. The effective implementation of major change requires considerable support and attention to the effects of, for example, management practices, incentives and reward systems, routines and procedures.
UNIWEL is an acronym for Universalism and the Welfare State in Scandinavia. The project is devoted to the profound changes that take place in universal welfare states as well as their underlying causes. Historically, high middle class support for the welfare state and a tight bond between the middle class and the working class constituted the foundation for encompassing (tax-financed) universal programs and services, which, in turn, lead to comparatively low levels of inequality and poverty. More recently, however, programs aimed particularly at the poor and disadvantaged (including immigrants) have been cut, while programs enjoyed by the middle class have been expanded.
Principal Investigator: Kees van Kersbergen
Welfare State Cutbacks
The welfare state is very popular with many voters. Nevertheless, politicians often make cutbacks – even without being punished by the voters afterwards. This project aims to investigate when and under what circumstances politicians are punished by voters for making welfare cutbacks. The project involves collecting a very extensive data sat consisting of the strategies that politicians can employ in connection with welfare cutbacks. The data set covers the period from 1985 in six western democracies, and it is the first study ever to enable a systematic analysis of what makes voters react negatively to welfare cutbacks. Moreover, the project also involves conducting a series of opinion surveys in three countries, which will yield further information about how voters are influenced by the politicians’ strategies.
Project leader: Carsten Jensen
When and How Enclave Deliberation Leads to Extremism
The project seeks to examine when and how interaction in so-called “echo rooms” (closed environments in which people share central opinions) leads to extremism. Studies of the radicalisation of groups, e.g. the Red Brigades or Islamic Jihad groups on the internet, have underlined the extent to which conversations among equal-minded people in closed forums can lead to the development of extremist views and, finally, justification of violence. The project examines the significance of different variables, such as political/religious ideology, offline/online media, age and gender, as well as the effects of moderator intervention such as counter arguments and group priming.
Project manager: Lasse Lindekilde
When and How Political Parties Influence Public Opinion Formation
When and how do citizens rely on political parties to form their political opinions? One of the most important influences on citizens’ opinions is the positions that political parties take on policy issues. Yet, we have limited knowledge of how citizens use parties to form opinions, and the conditions under which they use parties in different ways. We aim to advance this longstanding debate with a novel theoretical model that reconciles alternative conceptions of party influence and specifies under what conditions citizens will use parties in what ways. We test our model in survey experiments embedded in representative surveys in the US and Denmark. The project is supported by a “Sapere Aude: DFF–Starting Grant” from the Danish Council for Independent Research.
Project leader: Rune Slothuus