Archive for the 'Soße' Category

Some first impressions from Moscow

The most important thing in Moscow is to have an appropriate working place. Fortunately I can use an office at MGIMO:

A second important thing is to have a good view out of your window. As I am located at the first floor of the dormatory it could be better but anyway it is quite impressing. It seems to me that Moscow is composed out of skyscrapers…..

As soon as I will find the time to do anything else but working, there will be more impressions from other parts of Mosacow.

encounters with the third kind

I had a quite strange close encounter with the third kind at the Prague Airport yesterday. Some meters ahead in the queue there was a platine-blonde, late-mid-aged, red-dressed russian lady trying to persuade the customs officer, that it would be allright to take the handgun on board that she was carrying with her. She was really, really upset, arguing all the time until she was on board, and probably still railing against these stupid regulations the customs officer wanted to implement, and indeed, finally did implement. Im looking for some more of theses encounters!!!!!

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.

Back from Paris, in the French Republic

Coming back from my visit at the ISPP Conference in the holy halls of french political science at sciences po, paris, I have brought with me a lot ofnew insights and perspectives on the field of political psychology and cognate disciplines. As t was a conference with many panels I wasn’t really able to attend all of the panels I wanted to, but I was amazed how many people for example are doing authoritarianism studies. Another important thing to learn was that political psychology is still an academic discipline heavily relying on quantitative research – or to put it otherwise: Many researchers are concerned with counting the legs of the fly, but by doing this do not really learn much about the fly itself. Despite some really exciting contributions that are approaching phenomena from other sides – philosophy, phenomenology, and qualitative research methods – most of the scholars seem to be stuck in the paradigmatic mud of social sciences following Descartes.

This is not to say that these approaches could not produce interesting insights, but they for sure are not able to capture all the important informations out there. As French Philosopher J.F. Lyotard put it in his study of “postmodern knowledge”, all information not to be encoded in binary codes gets lost and is devaluated: The narrative, myths, fairy tales, witchcraft, imagination, just to name a few.

What I also learned at the conference is that there are at least some people out there in the world that largely share equivalent academic experiences, are reading similar or even the same books, are asking questions and are adressing phenomena that are not really in the mainstream of social sciences, and that are using innovative theories and methods in their fields. This really encourages to keep a “good spirit” and to carry on for a littly while (Thanx to S.). And by the way it is a lot of pleasure and fun to hang around with these people (Thanx to S. and M.).

I am really looking forward to the next ISPP Conference in Dublin and hope to organize atleast one panel or workshop that is concentrating on this “otherness” of perspectives, theories and research methods in political psychology and more general, in the social sciences.

If you are interested in the papers I presented at the conference, please check the publications-page at this blog, where you can load them down as pdf-files. Comments of any kind are welcome.

Die Roten Riesen…

…haben sich offenbar gut amüsiert. Gerd (jaja, so schnell kanns gehen), Peter Pawelka und Politikwissenschaft-Galaxie Klaus von Beyme.

die roten Riesen