Winterschool on Elections and Electoral Behavior

Winter School: Bill Jacoby
Bill Jacoby on Ideology and Values

Some weeks after my research stay at André Blais´ Chair for Electoral Studies had begun, the Winter School on Voting Behavior happened to take in Montréal as well. It´s the second edition of a unique enterprise that brings together young students on electoral studies from across the globe with leading scholars in the field. PhD students from Latin- and North-America, China and Europe presented research such as on the effects of polls or cross-pressures on voting behavior.

Liran Harsgor presented a comprehensive and thought-out study on the gender gap in theWinter School: Lecture Blais United States for which she was awarded the Victor d´Hondt prize (well deserved!). For me, it was the first time to present a sketch of the Self-Determination Theory of Political Motivation. It was an experiment as the talk was bereft of any empirical analysis and focused exclusively on theoretical arguments. It was worth the effort for the positive and valuable feedback I received. You are invited to have a look at the slides here.

Winter School: Curling
Political scientists outside the office

While the afternoons were reserved for student presentations, the day began with a lecture by a senior scholar. André Blais gave an blunt („Economic Voting is overrated“) and impressive wrap-up 100 years of electoral studies that closed with a plea for a more imperialist discipline („My plea is: Study elections outside politics! Us, political scientists, we have to be more imperialist!“). Bill Jacoby talked about Values and Ideology and as the editor of the American Journal of Political Science he offered a spontaneous Q&A on Publishing („If you think about including a graph in a paper, there is only one statistical software you should use: R“).

Further talks were given by Ruth Dassonneville, Patrick Fournier, Richard Johnston, Sona Golder, Richard Lau and Marc Hooghe.


From Mannheim to Montréal

After exciting 15 months at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research and the Chair for Political Psychology, it is a time to start a new chapter. It will begin in Montréal, Québec.

Thanks to the amicable support of André Blais, I´ll have the opportunity to spend the upcoming months at the University of Montréal as a visiting researcher. Everyone interested in turnout behavior is familiar with the work of André Blais´ and his team of researchers at the Chair in Electoral Studies. Best known is his discussion of the merits and limits of rational choice theory with regard to voting behavior. In recent years André Blais and Carol Galais have taken up the challenge to investigate the perceived duty to vote more closely (1, 2, 3), as one of the variables with the highest explanatory power for electoral participation. Despite its central role in electoral studies, this concept of voting as a civic duty is not well understood. As my dissertation deals with the psychological mechanisms whereby social and moral norms influence political participation, our research interests intersect offering diverse opportunities for intellectual exchange. 

Apparently, the stay in Montréal will not only be of intellectual benefit. According to my guide, Montréal is said to be the cultural capital of Canada and even the New York Times has recently published a piece on the new, ‚hip‘ Canada. The author lists Justin Bieber and Ryan Gosling as prime examples for Canada´s new hipness..

If Justin Bieber doesn´t convince you of hip Canada, may be these fun facts will:

  • 1 out of 10 of the world´s trees is Canadian.
  • When you are in New Foundland (Eastern Canada), it´s closer to Ireland than it is to Vancouver.
  • Canada is cold. This doesn´t mean you´d a jacket. Just walk in the tunnels below the surface. 32 km of them. From shopping malls, theaters to concert halls: You can reach everything without seeing daylight. And, yes, if you feel the urgent for absolution after your shopping trip,  the Cathedrale Christ Church is also connected to the network of tunnels of course.