Political science congress snippets

The International Political Science Association (IPSA) (an international scholarly association devoted to the advancement of political science) is currently holding the 24th World Congress of Political Science 2016 – is was going to be in Turkey but was moved to Poznań, Poland after the coup attempt Turkey.

From Latest News:

On the first day of the 24th IPSA World Congress, various interesting sessions and events were held. One of the most popular ones was Richard Wilkinson’s Plenary lecture The Enemy Between Us. In his lecture, Richard Wilkinson (co-author of the groundbreaking book The Spirit Level), focused on inequality and its impact on people and societies.

According to Prof. Wilkinson, societies with bigger income differences tend to suffer more of a wide range of health and social problems, such as higher death rates, higher levels of mental illness, violence, and lower levels of child wellbeing.

In his plenary lecture, Prof. Wilkinson explained the main reasons behind inequality and its impact on societies. Prof. Wilkinson supported his presentation with data and analyses, indicating differences in several countries. He also explained the differences between the understanding of inequality between the United States and Scandinavian countries.

Geoffrey Miller has been tweeting snippets:

Is New Zealand politics becoming more radical? Intriguing paper by 

Inequality now most important issue for NZ voters


“The Hillary Clintons are the future, not the Bernie Sanders” – Identity politics, not class?


(PIPPA NORRIS, Harvard political scientist, compares democracy & democratization, gender politics, political communications, culture & elections.)

Flexibility rather than rigidity, fuzzy ideas rather than clarity – on future of political science

Reliance on out of date concepts from 1960s and 1970s? On state of political science.

Use “fuzzy concepts” rather than “crisp, clear concepts” – advice for politics researchers

Wolfgang Merkel from

“Top journals make careers” – just a myth in academia?

Philippe Schmitter:

Political scientists need to analyse “informal practices”, e.g central bank culture, not just “formal rules”.

“Sovereignty has always been a fiction”, myth that Peace of Westphalia was only about nation-states.

“Politics exists because of uncertainty.”

“Democracy is not in decline. It’s moving to something else”.

I think this is an important point. More on this some time.

“Whole process of representation not working” in current politics”.

Top politics academic Philippe Schmitter thinks of himself “more as an artist than a scientist”.

Currently shift underway from emphasising stability to emphasising change in politics.

More political scientists from Global South (Latin Am, Africa, Asia), who are more used to change.

Increasing devolution of power to non-elected, technocratic institutions. Pol scientists too focused on parties.

And along with media too focussed on a few politicians like leaders and attention seekers?

“Idea that concepts must have very clear borders doesn’t really interest me…fuzzy ideas characterization of real world”.

Something the media doesn’t grasp or do well, it doesn’t fir with headlines and sound bites.

Culture always changes, can’t assume e.g. that people living under authoritarian regime are authoritarian by nature.

again (in debate with Philippe Schmitter):

Pol scientists often “prisoners of concepts from the past”.

“Science isn’t certainty, it’s doubt”.

Pippa Norris frustrated when people say “oh you mean democracy” when she says “electoral integrity” – new concept.

Thanks Geoff, some interesting stuff.



Leave a comment


  1. Corky

     /  27th July 2016

    Anyone who has been to one of these conferences,or similar, is usually blown away if the speakers are good. You get hear and see things you never thought of before. You see graphs and comparisons that make sense. You marvel at the ease speakers deal with prickly questions from those who disagree when the floor is opened.

    Dare I say it, you come away empowered. You feel good that you understand things a little better.

    Then reality strikes. One nut, with gun can make a mockery of the most learned professor.
    Predictions regarding economies, societies and trending issues can be swept away by one cataclysmic event.

    I’m back to square one. I feel like self help guru, Dr Wayne Dyer, who had his wife leave him and their seven kids. Its kind of at odds with the books of empowerment he wrote.

    These conferences may have value, I don’t known. What I do know is when reality strikes, they are shown up to be nothing more than ” intellectual wanking.”

    • Corky

       /  27th July 2016

      Apologies. Dr Wayne Dyer is deceased.

      • Gezza

         /  27th July 2016

        Well, you could still feel like him, if things were bad enough, I suppose, Corky?

        • Corky

           /  27th July 2016

          True. Experiences never die, I suppose. I was given his book ” Your Erroneous Zones” a long time ago. I thought it would be kinky. It was nothing of the sort. Never did understand why critics panned it as pop psychology. I thought it covered psychology 101 in layman’s terms very well.

          • Gezza

             /  27th July 2016

            Probably true. John Gray’s ‘Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus’ was pretty good too.

  2. Gezza

     /  27th July 2016

    I wonder if this political science lecturer, prof Richard Wilkinson, is related to my good friend Al?

  3. When you look at the graph ask yourself what it means. To me it shows that more people are happy with the way the economy is going note the decline in importance. Unemployment is off the scale as a problem, look at the graph! Also, and finally, we have an upsurge in queries about inequality, which clearly has been addressed as you will see the way the graph heads towards zero! So what is the problem?

    • The problem is that security issues trump economic issues and they’re not addressing the US role in the coup attempt which caused the venue of the congress to be changed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: