Posts Tagged 'local politics'

Local Governance and Welfare Production – a research course

Locals Politics makes the political system viable. It brings politics to the people. And it is especially the local level, where welfare is provided, and indeed produced. Starting from concepts of welfare, political systems and local governance, the aim of the seminar is to look at the (legal and structural) frameworks, actors and constraints of local welfare production from a systematic and comparative perspective.

Local welfare production and governance arrangements include public and private actors, such as administrations and NGOs. Local administrations usually have two roles in welfare production. First, they provide and distribute welfare (e.g., social security assistance) on behalf of the national or regional welfare system, and second, they produce welfare at their own responsibility (like childcare, and others) according to the principles of subsidiarity. Associations and NGOs often complement welfare provision on the local level, especially in areas where public administrations are weak or non-performant. So, a third sector arises and gains importance. Sometimes associations and NGOs act on behalf of administrations and are agents of welfare provision. Sometimes they offer their own services.

During the summer semester, Students from Petrozavodsk State University and Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen have conducted research projects to explore different aspects of local governance and welfare production. During a joint Fall School from 04-08. October 2021, they discussed and compared their results and present their core findings. In addition, there was a continued discussion on challenges and chances of local governance in providing welfare and better living conditions for their people.

The topics discussed included:

  • Local and interregional environmental initiatives
  • Politics and policies during the Covid-19-pandemic
  • Associations and organizations during the pandemic
  • Social and health issues during the pandemic

Several external partners from Universities, Civil Society and public administration contributet inputs to the discussion. Among others these were:

The Course and the Fall School were hosted by Prof. Elena Chernenkova, Petrozavodsk State University, Natalya Lavrushina, Karelian public diplomacy development foundation, and Dr. Rolf Frankenberger, University of Tuebingen.

The whole project was funded by the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD

Local Governance and Public Wellbeing

Just published is our new edited volume on local governance and public wellbeing. It is one result of a cooperation and joint workshop of scientists and practitioners in local governance from Tübingen and Petrozavodsk.

Well-being is a core concept for measuring the satisfaction of citizens with and in their social, political and economic situations. In particular, it is local conditions that are decisive for such an evaluation—and thus also for local welfare production. In addition to municipalities as state authorities, initiatives, non-commercial organisations, associations and federations are also decisive as important welfare producers. From a comparative perspective, the contributions in this volume shed light on various aspects and dimensions of local welfare production and their effects on citizens’ satisfaction. They examine examples from Russia and Germany, in particular the two cities Petrozavodsk and Tübingen as well as the Republic of Karelia and Baden-Württemberg: the theoretical foundations and social challenges, their attitudes and populations, participatory projects and measures of welfare production.

  • Frankenberger, Rolf and Elena Chernenkova (2020) (Eds.): Local Governance and Public Wellbeing. Comparing Russian and German Examples (Schriftenreihe des Europäischen Zentrums für Föderalismus-Forschung Tübingen (EZFF), Bd. 51). Nomos: Baden-Baden.  ISBN 978-3-8487-6532-4

Continue reading ‘Local Governance and Public Wellbeing’

Local Politics in a comparative Perspective – Petrozavodsk and Tuebingen

Most recently I have published an edited volume on Local Politics in a comparative perspective together with my collegue Elena Ivanovna Chernenkova from Petrozavodsk State University. It brings together case study and comparative articles on aspects of local politics in both cities that were intensly discussed in a workshop in October 2016 and are the groundwork for further cooperation.

  • Rolf Frankenberger & Elena Chernenkova (eds.): Local Politics in a Comparative Perspective – The Cases of Petrozavodsk and Tübingen. Baden-Baden: Nomos. 272 pp., ISBN 978-3-8487-3892-2

All Politics is local. This is at least what former Congressman and US Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neill is said to have stated referring to the principle that successful politicians have to stay connected to their constituency and to the problems, interests and opinions of their local electorate.[1] But, as Peter Allen and David Cutts ask, “what do we mean by local?”.[2] Can we reduce the term local to the rootedness of national politics in the grass of constituencies, communities, or municipalities? This might be one way to define it. One could also argue that even though all politics is local, local politics is where the people are. This shifts the focus of analysis away from the national level of the political system towards the regional or even local level of governance, government, politics and participation. There are manifold studies dealing with political phenomena on the local level in different disciplines from political science to public administration, from geography to ethnography, from economics to architecture. Even though probably addressing the same entities, the foci of interest slightly shift: Whereas Urban Studies[3] mainly focus on development and planning of cities, Local and Municipal Government Studies highlight the importance of public administrations and governmental institutions in local politics.[4] Local Governance Studies instead broaden the perspective of politics by including private, business and not-for business actors in their analysis of political decision making.[5] And there are also different perspectives on actors in local politics. Whereas some studies focus on political elites, others take a grassroots perspective on citizen government, civic participation, and social engagement.

Starting from the notion that local self-government is one of the core principles for the political organization of municipalities across Europe[6], this volume takes a slightly different perspective, that in a way combines several aspects of the fields of study mentioned above. Municipalities are the venue for citizens to directly experience politics, and they also constitute the playground for diverse actors from business, civil society, administration and politics in the political arena. Thus, one could argue that local politics work similarly irrespective of cultural, political and social environments, as they are driven by local needs and demands. This narrow perspective on local politics seems to be somewhat misleading, given the fact that the local political level of municipalities is embedded in multi-level governance arrangements and political institutions. And they are embedded in different settings of (political) culture and society.

If we then want to understand local politics, we should widen the perspective of analysis and treat regional belonging, institutional settings and multi-level governance at least as potential determinants of variation. As research-literature doing or dealing with inter- and cross-regional comparisons suggests, these systemic environments still do have impact on local self-government[7]: They might constrain political actors and shape political processes in very specific ways. Examining two cities – Petrozavodsk and Tübingen – in comparative case studies and from a comparative perspective, social scientists and practitioners in politics and civil society from both municipalities contributing to the volume analyze how local politics and political culture are shaped in multi-level governance, how state-society relations and civic participation work in different systemic settings.

The volume comprises six thematic sections, each focusing on a different aspect of local politics. Starting from more general theoretical and methodological issues in section I, we investigate in political culture, identity and public opinion in section II . The articles in section III deal with social innovation as a mechanism and driving force of change and development in municipalities. In sections IV, V, and VI we broaden the perspectives, starting from political participation in local politics, passing on to state-society relations and NGOs and ending up with international relations in local politics.

[1]     Cf. Gelman, Andrew 2011: All Politics is Local? The debate and the Graphs. FiveThrityEight, 03.01.2011. (01.08.2017).

[2]     Allen, Peter/Cutts, David 2014: All Politics is local – but what do we actually mean by local. Political Insight, 17.02.2014. -actually-mean-local (01.08.2017).

[3]     For an overview on Urban Studies cf. Paddison, Ronan (ed.) 2001: Handbook of Urban Studies, London.

[4]     For an overview on different aspects of local politics cf. Haider-Markel, Donald 2014: The Oxford Handbook of State and Local Government, Oxford; Baldersheim, Harald/Wollmann, Hellmut (eds.) 2006: The Comparative Study of Local Government and Politics: Overview and Synthesis, Leverkusen.

[5]     For trends and the shift from urban studies to urban governance studies, cf. McCann, Eugene 2017: Governing urbanism: Urban governance studies 1.0, 2.0 and beyond, in: Urban Studies 54 (2), pp. 312-326; Pierre, Jon 2005: Comparative Urban Governance-Uncovering Complex Causalities, in: Urban Affairs Review 40, pp. 446–462.  For shifts from Government to Governance, cf. Andrew, Caroline/Goldsmith, Michael 1998: From Local Government to Local Governance and beyond?, in: International Political Science review 19, pp. 101-117; John, Peter 2001: Local Governance in Western Europe, London. An overview on Governance: Bevir, Marc (ed.) 2010: The Sage handbook of governance, London.

[6]     Local self-government is codified in German Basic Law (Art. 28, 2.1) as well as in the Constitution of the Russian Federation (Art.12, 1+2). In addition, both countries have ratified the European Charter on Local Self-Government in 1988, and 1998 respectively.

[7]     Cf. Ahram, Ariel I. 2011: The theory and method of comparative area studies”, in: Qualitative Research 11(1), pp. 69-90; Basedau, Matthias/Köllner, Patrick 2007: Area studies, comparative area studies, and the study of politics: Context, substance, and methodological challenges, in: Zeitschrift für vergleichende Politikwissenschaft 1(1), pp. 105-124; Frankenberger, Rolf/Kiener, Isabel 2015: Kommunale Politik im Wandel: Petrosawodsk und Tübingen, Tübingen; Frankenberger, Rolf/Graf, Patricia 2013: Von Mangos und Pflaumen. Herausforderungen interregional vergleichender Fallstudien, Paper presented at the Conference „Politik, Region(en) und Kultur in der vergleichenden Politikwissenschaft“ der Sektion Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft der DVPW in Leipzig, 09.-11.10.2013.

Municipalities in a comparative perspective.

In a new publication I discuss theoretical and methodological issues of comparing Municipalities in Germany and Russia (or more in genereal, if you want, in any cross-regional comparison of cases). Drawing on experiences in cross-regional comparisons of Russia and Venezuela (Frankenberger & Graf 2011; Frankenberger & Graf 2013) as well as Russian and German Municipalities (Frankenberger & Kiener 2015), I argue that it is a too narrow analysis, if you only focus on local political order. It might be more useful to widen the perspective in two ways. First, the systemic context has to be taken into account. This is not only true for formal multilevel governance but also for informal institutions and politics.

Informal Politics and relations between actors on the municipal level are often mor important than formal power relations and party affiliations. Especpecially when it comes  to conrete projects. One solution to the problem in comparing municipalities from different regions could then be to use structuralist and functionalist approaches as heuristics: What institution and what actor doe fulfil which functions in the respective context? How do they interfere/interact with political culture, political economy and the broader political system? Even if this heuristics might not lead to a rigorous case design as MDSD or MSSD, the insights of the comparison are far more systematic and generalizeable than they would be by doing single case studies

  • Rolf Frankenberger (2016): Ungleiches im Gleichen. Theoretische und methodische  Herausforderungen des Vergleichs von Kommunen in Deutschland und Russland. Jahrbuch des Föderalismus. Baden-Baden: Nomos, S.137-150.