Back in Office

After having come back from my holiday at Rügen (or:Rugia – for those not familiar with german geography, Rugia is the largest german island, located in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), regular work will start on the next monday. And there is really a lot of work to do in the upcoming semester.

My current research focuses on theories of transition of political systems and particularly the transition to and stabilization of authoritarian regimes. The case of my interest is Russia, as it can be considered as an example for sucessful re-authoritarization under former President Vladimir Putin and current President Dmitrij Medwedew. One really interesting thing is that in Russia elections to the executive (the President) and the legislative (State Duma) are held regularly and seem to be of some importance and impact despite all rumours and proofs of manipulation. There are several scholars dealing with the phenomenon of elections in authoritarian regimes, that call these types “competitive authoritarian regimes” (Levitsky and Way 2002) or, more precise, “electoral authoritarianism” (Schedler 2006). These approaches seem to be helpful to distinguish these variations of a full-scale “authoritarianism+” from diminished subtypes of democracy, e.g. democracies with adjectives (Collier and Levitsky 1997) and hybrid regimes (Diamond 2002). But when one asks for the functions in terms of a system analysis, most of the approaches in transitology do not give satisfactory answers. My aim is to come closer to a non-democracy-biased analysis of functions of structures and actors within an autopoietic political system. I hope to get new inspiring insights when I am hopefully travelling to Moskow at the end of the month.

Developments in Russia are also interesting in a comparative perspective. Together with my collegue Patricia Graf, I am working on a compartive analysis of elections and their functions in Russia and Venezuela. We will present the results at the annual meeting of the “AK Demokratieforschung” of the DVPW in Hamburg from 16th to 18th October 2008.

Another project origins in my participation at the ISPP-Conference earlier this year. Together with Michael Arfken I am working on a contribution to the 2009 meeting. As we both are in some way (Michael as a psychologist) or the other (me as a political scientist) concerned with how social reality is represented in political psychology, we like the idea to debate different approaches to the social in political psychology, as thinkers like Marx, Hegel, Foucault, Baudrillard, Rawls and others developed them. We are planning to contribute a workshop or panel or symposium to the meeting that could be called “Political Psychology, Social Reality, and the Specter of Intersubjectivity”. Anyway, we have to wait for the reaction of the chairs of the conference.

In teaching there will be three courses, that I will give in the Wintersemester: “Introduction to Political Science” for B.A.-Students (1st Semester), the “Teaching-/Reasearch-Project” for B.A.-Students (5th and 6th Semester) and “Methods of Empirical Research in Political Science” for graduate students (Magister and Master). This includes the update and reformulation of all syllabuses and suggested readings.


  • Schedler, Andreas (Hg.) (2006): Electoral Authoritarianism. The Dynamics of unfree Competition. Boulder, Coll.: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
  • Levitsky, Steven; Way, Lucan A. (2002): The Rise of Competitive Authoritarianism. In: Journal of Democracy, Jg. 13, H. 2, S. 51–65.
  • Diamond, Larry (2002): Thinking about Hybrid regimes. In: Journal of Democracy, Jg. 13, H. 2, S. 21–35.
  • Collier, David; Levitsky, Steven (1997): Democracy with Adjectives. Conceptual Innovation in Comparative Research. In: World Politics, Jg. 49, H. 3, S. 430–451.

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