How to conceptualize policy transfer between and witin border regions

In political science, policy transfer has often been studied between nation-states, whereas scholars from a border studies background have often found policy learning to occur within cross-border networks. In this paper of the great „Linking Borderlands Project„, Stefanie Thurm, myself and our colleague Peter Ulrich (University of Potsdam) bridge these literatures to arrive at a comceptual framework for the study of policy transfer within an between border regions. This paper is now out at Regional & Federal Studies and we are super happy to share the link with you. We hope that the framework will be used in the future to more systematically theorize and empirically investigate policy transfer in and between border regions.

Are residents of border regions really more attached to Europe?

The answer to the question, whether citizens living in border regions really are more attached to Europe, has not been unanimous in the existing literature. Whether some early studies have found such an effect, more recent work provides inconclusive results. Together with two sociologists from our Department in Saarbrücken, Moritz Rehm and Martin Schröder, we have looked at German panel data of the Socio-Economic Panel which provides us with fine-grained data about residents of border regions and how strongly they feel emotionally attached to Europe. Our paper has now appeared inthe Journal of Common Market Studies. Interestingly, we find no clear and direct effect for such a relationship – even when taking moderation with several socio-demographic variables into account. Instead, our results show differences between German regions, particularly as East Germans are overall less attached to Europe than West Germans. We also find weak evidence that the frequency of cross-border social interactions covaries with an increased attachment to Europe in East German border regions – whereas we do not find this effect in border regions in the West. For the full article, click here.

On the relationship between disciplinary policies in criminal justice and the welfare state

In a recently published article in the Journal of Europan Social Policy, „Disciplinary welfare and the punitive turn in criminal justice: Parallel trends or communicating vessels?“, Peter Starke and I present new insights into the relationship between social policy and criminal justice policy in 18 Western democracies from 1990 to 2012. The article examines whether there is a „disciplinary turn“ of simultaneously tightening criminal justice and social policy. We find – in contrast to a thesis frequently expressed in the literature – no evidence for this. Instead, we conclude that a greater use of disciplinary means in social policy is accompanied by stagnating or even shrinking expenditure on police and prisons, and that the „communicating vessels“ dynamic occurs particularly in generous Northern European welfare states. We are happy that this paper is now out and thank the POINS team for all comments on earlier versions and the VELUX foundation for generous funding. Click here for the article

Open position for a Ph.D.-researcher

Who wants to join our team to work on emotions and the making of protective policies? I am looking for a Ph.D.-researcher (part-time, 65%) to work in the PROTEMO-project from January, 15, 2024 onwards for three years. The main tasks will be

(1) to do qualitative process tracing on the role emotions play in protective policy-making and
(2) to qualitatively assess the emotional cues in policy communication and policy documents about protective policies.

Given these tasks, German language skills are important for this position. Much more on the CfA can be found in the official Call on the website of Saarland University, here.

PROTEMO – New Horizon Europe project

We are super happy to announce that PROTEMO, a new project funded by the Horizon Europe programm, will start in January 2024. Coordinated by my Chair and Dr. Beatriz Carbone as a Post-Doc, and involving partners throughout Europe (CES and University of Coimbra in Portugal, University of Southern Denmark, the Institute for Psychology at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, University of Southampton and Reichman University in Israel), the project will investigate the emotional roots of protective policies and their emotional consequences for individuals, groups of citizens and non-citizens as well as for democracy, political participation and mobilisation. Our basic thesis is that such protective policies and the emotional dynamics that are related to them are increasingly dominating politics in the current age of insecurity. By protective policies, we mean policies that are communicated by political actors as providing safety and security to citizens, policies that are directed at what political actors perceive as emotional needs of citizens (i.e., feeling appreciated, safe, accomplished, or part of a community).

In the next two months, we will prepare everything to give the project a smooth start in January 2024 with a kick-off meeting at the University of Coimbra, our project partner in Portugal. The team at Saarland University will be joined by a Ph.D.-researcher – the call for applications will be posted soon.

ECPR General Conference in Prague

This week, I will present one of the last papers of the FATAL4Justice-project on algorithmic decision-making in the criminal justice system at the ECPR General Conference in Prague. The paper is a case study on the adoption of the „Reform Abolition Bill“ in the Commonwealth of Virginia – a bill that effectively paved the way for the introduction of risk assessment tools in the criminal justice system in Virginia. Looking forward to a great conference!

Call for Applications: Full post-doc or pre-doc researcher

We are looking for a Post-Doc or advanced Pre-Doc researcher (1,0 E13) who will work in our research group at Saarland University in the next three years. The position is part of a BMBF-financed project that will study how scientific evidence (and the related uncertainty) and the communication about it are translated in the policy-process. The project will include perspectives from political science, political communication and political psychology. It is a joint endeavour of Saarland University and communication science colleagues from the Campus Landau of the Rheinland-Pfälzische Technische Universität. The deadline for applications is September 30 (extended from August 18).
I am looking forward to your application!

The link to the official call is here:

New paper in „Goltdammer’s Archiv für Strafrecht“

When someone would have told me a couple of years ago that my research on law and order policies would eventually result in a paper published in the oldest German scientific journal for penal law founded in 1853, I would probably said that this would never happen. Against all odds, however, I was part of a recent special issue on penal policy because the two editors wanted an interdisciplinary perspective on the development of German penal law. Evidently, I happily agreed and was even joined by my great new colleague, Dominik Brodowski, who was just recently appointed to his Chair of Criminal Law at Saarland University. Thus, our joint publication in the oldest German penal law journal has become the result of my newest cooperation at Saarland University. A link to the article can be found here.

VELNET workshop at SDU Odense

On the last days of my research stay at SDU Odense, I had the occasion to participate at the yearly workshop of the network of welfare state scholars in Denmark. Great two days with sunshine and many interesting papers and presentations as well as a nice company of the Danish welfare state scholars. In addition, Peter Starke and I got very valuable comments on a very early draft of a paper on disciplinary policies – super helpful feedback!

Research stay at SDU Odense

I have started my research stay at SDU Odense! I am here in Denmark for the next two weeks (thanks to my wife and parents-in-law who take care of the kids) and work together with my colleagues of the POINS project (headed by Peter Starke) on the several papers related to the politics of insecurity. Great start on a sunny Tuesday!

Some first impressions on the left: The view of the Adelige Jomfrukloster seen from the river Å, a nice street in the neighborhood where I live during my stay and the door to my office, which says that I am, apparently, an external lecturer…

Second edition of the „Handbuch Policy-Forschung“ has appeared in print

After one year of reviewing, revising, editing and organizing new chapters for the Handbook of public policy research, the new edition is finally out in print. My great colleague Reimut Zohlnhöfer and myself are very satisfied with the new book which has grown quite a bit (new chapters on family policy, health policy, migration policy but also on experimental methods and mixed method research). Additionally all authors have invested time and energy revising their original pieces from the 2015 edition. The book is also available as online source on the „Springer Reference“ platform. Enjoy!

How party socialization affects legislative behavior

In a new paper with Philipp Mai (TU Kaiserslautern), we present findings from an analysis of how intra-party socialization shapes legislative behavior of members of the German Bundestag. More concretely, we have coded whether politicians held party offices at lower levels of the party (e.g. municipal level) before they were elected in Parliament and whether the party discipline in roll-call votes is higher for those „party animals“. We find, indeed, that the absence of a intra-party socialization via holding lower-level party offices does increase the likelihood of an MP to vote against the party line. Moreover, our results show that this effect is most prominent for newly elected MPs and gets less important the longer an MP is in Parliament. Hence, it seems that parliamentary socialization overshadows party socialization after some time. The paper has been published in Legislative Studies Quarterly, one of the major outlets for research about Parliaments and legislative behavior.

Media reporting, welfare state reforms and government support

In a new paper, Stefanie Thurm, Carsten Jensen and I have looked into the relationships between media reporting about welfare state reforms and government support in Germany between 1994 and 2014. Based on coding of newspaper articles in two main quality newspapers, the „Süddeutsche Zeitung“ and the „Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung“, we analyzed whether the reporting about cutbacks and expansions is linked to how much citizens support the incumbent government. We find that, controlling for the actual reform activity (that is legislation on expansions and cutbacks), media reporting about cutbacks does significantly decrease support for the government – and especially so for Social Democrats. The paper has appeared now online first in the Journal of European Public Policy.

Call for Abstracts QAccADM

As part of the project „Fatal4Justice?“ financed by the Volkswagen Foundation, we will organize a international conference in Berlin on March 13 on current research questions on accountable algorithmic decision making systems (QAccADM)„. We invite abstracts for short „lightning talks“ on questions of algorithmic regulation and the use of ADM systems by the state – and specifically for a political science panel that will open the academic part of the conference.

The call for abstracts is to be found here

To go to the conference site, just click here.

Effectiveness trumps transparency in the evaluation of algorithms used by the state

A second paper coming out of the Fatal4Justice project (co-authored with Anja Achtziger, Julia Felfeli (both ZU Friedrichshafen) and Pascal König) has recently be published in the Public Management Review. Based on a conjoint experiment, we have asked respondents to evaluate different features of algorithms used by the state – such as transparency, stateholder involvement in the design or the effectiveness. We find that effectiveness as a feature of the algorithm is most important to respondents compared to transparency, the cost of the algorithm or the involvement of stakeholders as part of accountability. Given the important discussions about fair, accountable and transparent algorithms, this result shows that we should not count on citizens to ask for these features as they seem to mainly care about the effectiveness and seem to be open to trade away aspects of accountability as long as the algorithm works effectively. The paper can be read here (and is open access!).

When people support algorithms in state agencies

In a new paper published in Public Administration, my colleagues Anja Achtziger, Julia Felfeli (both ZU Friedrichshafen), Pascal König and myself have studied under what conditions people support the use of algorithms by state agencies to provide services to citizens. Based on an online survey of a representative sample of German citizens, we presented respondents situations in which algorithms are used either to predict risk of burglary (and to inform predictive policing) or to calculate the risk of someone to get skin cancer (and to inform screening decisions) and asked for their preferences and attitudes towards the use of the algorithm. Our results show that citizens’ acceptance of an algorithm is strongly shaped by how they evaluate aspects of this context, namely the personal importance of the specific problems an algorithm is supposed to address (e.g. burglary) and their trust in the organizations deploying the algorithm (e.g. the police). Instead, the objective performance of presented algorithms affects acceptance much less. If you are interested in the article, click here.

Project meeting at the BTU Cottbus

During the last week of November, all projects united in the BMBF-financed consortium „Linking Borderlands“ met at BTU Cottbus not far from the German border to Poland to discuss most recent advances in the respective research agendas. We also worked together intensively during an interactive „Linking Lab“ discussing different methodological and conceptual approaches to the study of cross-border cooperation. Great but also quite intensive two days – which ended with a film projection on the cross-border chemical network between France, Germany and Luxemburg from the 1960s in the famous library of the BTU Cottbus.

Why states adopt algorithmic tools in Criminal Justice

New article: Pascal König and I have published a new article on the question why some states in the US use algorithmic tools to predict a defendant’s likelihood not to appear at court or to redicivate while awaiting trial in pretrial decision-making. We use a new dataset gathered in the context of the Volkswagenstiftung-Project „Fatal4Justice“ to estimate which features of an US state correlate with the probability that the state government uses such an algorithmic system. Interestingly, we find that not only financial pressure (e.g. high indebtedness or high spending on prisons) increases the chance that a state government adopts an algorithmic system in pretrial decisions, but we also see that Democratic executives are more likely to use algorithms at the pretrial stage in Criminal Justice. Hence, although the turn to „smart tools“ is sometimes interpreted as being driven by bipartisan consensus, our data seem to indicate that the Republicans are more recultant to fully embrace the use of algorithmic tools at the pretrial stage. The paper has now appeared in the journal Law and Policy.

Why pro-redistribution voters are attracted to right-wing populist parties

A timely new publication: On the day when Europe is looking at the election results in Italy with the far right of Giorgia Meloni becoming the major party in government, a new article on the electoral appeal of right-wing populist (RWP) parties in European countries has been published in Politics. In the paper, Pascal König and I show for what reasons voters with strong pro-redistribution preferences (who would traditionally vote for the left) support far right parties. The paper shows that the explanation of this unusual voting pattern strongly depends on how established these parties are. Our findings reveal that where RWPs are more established, strong pro-redistribution preferences drive voters away from these parties even more than voters are attracted to them based on political distrust. The opposite is the case for less established RWPs. Hence, depending on the degree of their establishment, far right parties attract different voter segments. To read the paper, follow this link.

New paper on private and public security

New paper: Drawing on previous work by Helge Staff and myself, we have now published a new comparative study on how European countries private security companies alongside the traditional state actors (mostly police) to provide public security to their citizens. The paper has been published in the British Journal of Criminology as part of a special issue on crime, politics and insecurity (edited by Steve Farrall and Emily Gray). Please click here to access the paper.

Fritz Thyssen Award (runner-up) for an article on migration policies

Great news: The paper “Migration policies in the German Länder”, published in 2021 in the “Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft” by Daniel Meyer, Jonas Philipp and myself has been awarded the “Fritz Thyssen Preis” (runner-up). The award is given by an independent jury to the best three papers in social science in German language published in the last year. We are happy to have written the second best article, at least accoding to the jury…
To read the paper, please click here

New start at Saarland University

New start: On September 12, I have started a new job at Saarland University. As I am moving from the TU Kaiserslautern to Saarland University, my old blog will serve the interim professor, Dr. Frank Bandau, at TU Kaiserslautern (and in the future the new professor and her/his team).

I have therefore decided to start this new homepage (and blog) to share the news of my research and teaching. I am happy to start this adventure!