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Reliance on out of date concepts from 1960s and 1970s?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.