Migration@Southampton Research Network

DipticBy Dr. Ana Margheritis, Reader in International Relations at University of Southampton (Twitter, Academia.edu). You can find more posts by Ana here.


 

The Migration@Southampton Research Network, coordinated by Dr. Ana Margheritis since 2014, now has an online presence. This is an interdisciplinary group formed by colleagues and postgraduate students from the Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences and the Faculty of Humanities.

Their expertise addresses migration-related challenges through world-leading academic research, teaching, advocacy and mutual exchanges with academic and non-academic communities within the university and beyond. Network members have been working on programme development, joint publications, event organization, grant writing and other activities.

Find out more about this exciting initiative and related news at: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/migration

Dr. Ana Margheritis to lead working group on Brazil’s foreign policy

DipticBy Dr. Ana Margheritis, Reader in International Relations at University of Southampton (Twitter, Academia.edu). You can find more posts by Ana here.


 

This semester, the Faculty of Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences awarded Dr. Ana Margheritis a Strategic Research Development Fund Award to support her project on Brazil’s Foreign Policy. As a result, this week she is organizing and chairing a workshop at King’s College London. The event gathers distinguished specialists from the UK, Portugal, Germany, and Brazil, and aims at consolidating the academic collaboration of the group through publications and further research.

Members of the group have been collaborating informally for over a year. They last met at the international conference of the Latin American Studies Association, where Dr. Margheritis organised and chaired a very successful panel on the subject. Their combined expertise will now be directed towards the following issues which have become even more relevant lately in the light of the ongoing economic downturn and politico-institutional crisis in Brazil:

  1. What are the main issues, actors, and dynamics of Brazil’s foreign policy agenda today?
  2. What factors explain the setbacks in Brazil’s determination to play a prominent global role?
  3. What policy and theoretical implications do recent changes pose to the country’s strategies and our analytical frameworks?

As Brazil has attempted to rise in global affairs, its foreign policy agenda and policymaking process has become more diversified and complex, thus questioning traditional analytical assumptions. Moreover, contradicting high expectations at home and abroad, modest economic growth, political crises, and social unrest have recently cast doubts on such international projection and, more broadly, on Brazil’s presumed leadership capacity. The current presidential impeachment process further exacerbates political uncertainty and questions these ambitions.

The research team’s main goal is to understand to what extent, and how, these issues and performance record require an adaptation of policymaking mechanisms and strategies and, consequently, of traditional analytical frameworks.

 

Dr. Ana Margheritis’ contributions to Institute of Latin American Studies recognised

DipticBy Dr. Ana Margheritis, Reader in International Relations at University of Southampton (Twitter, Academia.edu). You can find more posts by Ana here.


 

In recognition of her contributions to the Institute of Latin American Studies at School of Advanced Study, University of London, Dr. Ana Margheritis was last month formally invited to be Associate Fellow. The affiliation aims at consolidating a strong personal and inter-institutional link through further collaborations, including events and publications among others.

PAIR Students’ Work for Consultation Institute recognised

DSC_0367cropped

At the university, we try whenever possible to create opportunities for our students to engage in real-world research, working with organisations in the public, private and voluntary section. Many of our students take up these opportunities during their second year research methods module. Recently two of our students Rory McGurk and William Pereira were invited to the Consultation Institute’s annual conference and presented with a certificate in appreciation for their work for the institute.

In Rory’s words:

We were asked by the Consultation Institute to conduct some research into some prominent public consultation cases, and suggest ways in which they could have been improved. We were given the case of the Kings Lynn Incinerator – a controversial plan for an incinerator which involved numerous overlapping consultations in Norfolk. These were our findings:

The Kings Lynn incinerator proposal consultation was legitimate in relation to the Aarhus convention, namely the right to participate in decision making. However, each of these consultations suffered systematic flaws, the most overarching of which was an attempt to manipulate public opinion. This was seen in the omission of certain questions from the Cory Wheelabrator telephone survey in 2011, and the county councils dismissal of a 92.68% residence opposition. It was therefore overtly plain to see that consultation in this instance was a participatory mechanism utilised only for the intention of legitimising a preconceived county-imposed waste management strategy that favoured an incinerator.

In recognition of the work we produced, the Consultation Institute invited us to their annual conference at the Emirates stadium. This proved to be a fascinating and extremely useful day, allowing us to listen to some high end speakers, such as Michael Portillo and Anthony King. We were also given the opportunity to network with individuals at the Consultation Institute and explain our research to them. We were also given an award for our contribution to the work produced by the Consultation Institute. Overall, the research was helpful in expanding our political knowledge and analytical skills, and the conference was a very interesting and helpful day. We would like to send our thanks to Rhion Jones and Elizabeth Gammell for allowing us to conduct the research and for allowing us to join them at their conference. Also, to Matt Ryan for setting up the research with the Consultation Institute and for joining us on our adventure down to their headquarters in Biggleswade.

Rod Rhodes Wins ECPR Lifetime Achievement Award

The recipient of the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award was R.A.W Rhodes, Professor of Government (Research) at the University of Southampton and at Griffith University and Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Newcastle. The Jury was composed of Rudy Andeweg, Martin Bull, Manuel Sanchez de Dios and Jonas Tallberg, Chaired by Simona Piattoni.

14730502454_baa16e0620_zThe Jury noted that it was impressed with Professor Rhodes’ ‘exceptional record in the many areas of the profession: from teaching and publishing to advising and disseminating.’ Going on to say that ‘Few have taught in so many universities, visited at least as many research institutions, collaborated in so many research projects on both sides of the globe and produced so many veritably ‘paradigm-shifting’ authored and edited volumes. The impact of [his] work on the discipline of political science is easily ‘measured’ both by the by now conventional bibliographic indicators and, more impressionistically but equally clearly, by the impact on the work of many of us.’

Professor Rhodes is life Vice-President and former Chair and President of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom; a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia; and an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences (UK). He has also been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, editor of Public Administration from 1986 to 2011, and Treasurer of the Australian Political Studies Association, 1994–2011.

The Prize will be presented to Professor Rhodes at the General Conference in Montreal on 27th August 2015.

New Book: The Relevance of Political Science

By Gerry Stoker, Professor of Governance at University of Southampton and Fellow and Centenary Professor in the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis at University of Canberra (Twitter). You can read more posts by Gerry Stoker here.


There are some who hold the view that the job of political scientists begins and ends with their description and analysis of politics. Many political scientists view the connection between the discipline and the world of politics as appropriately detached: they are neutral, observers of the political world. Yet my position is that a discipline that studied politics but had nothing to say to those involved in politics or who might be involved would be failing. Political science needs to devote more thought and effort to the challenges involved in achieving relevance for its work.

Political science should as part of its vocation seek not to pursue an agenda driven by its own theories or methods as if it was in a separate world , sealed off from the concern of its fellow citizens. Rather the problems of the political world as perceived, or at least as can be understood, by our fellow citizens should set the bulk of our agenda. We should be asking questions to which others outside the profession want to know the answer. And do so with a commitment to rigour in methods of study and analysis. A focus of relevance mean does not demand a downplaying of developing the best means of investigating politics. Indeed methodological innovation is, if anything, likely to be simulated rather than hindered by such dealing with the intractable and complex challenges thrown up by ‘real world’ politics. There is nothing as practical as good theory and theory can find no tougher test than achieving effectiveness in the world of practice.

Too often in the past three or four decades political science has constructed for itself a way of working that appears to give little or no credence to the demands of relevance. If political science is therefore judged irrelevant by others, most of the blame though not all rests with the profession. Political science will need to act differently and so I offer a new manifesto for relevance below.

  1. Have confidence in the value of rigorous scientific analysis and so do not let relevance compromise high quality investigation but embrace it as a critical friend, providing tough and different challenges for your evidence and argument
  2. Develop relevance not as an afterthought in the construction of your research but put it at the heart of what you select to investigate and how you present and share the outputs of your research. Set your agenda in dialogue with others outside the profession and improve your communication skills using traditional and new media
  3. Offer solutions as well as analysis of problems and take on board some of the arguments for a design orientation in your analysis so that evidence and argument can be applied as thoroughly to the construction of potential answers as well as spelling out the challenges facing desired change
  4. Support methodological pluralism in the discipline as that variety of approaches is most likely to deliver a rich array of relevant work that can reach out to a diverse group of potential users
  5. Be committed to work in partnership with other disciplines to improve the relevance of your work. Good and innovative work often is cross-disciplinary. Many issues have a “wicked” or multi-dimensional quality so again working across disciplinary boundaries enhances the chances of relevance
  6. Actively cultivate links with intermediaries as appropriate – think tanks, journalists, special advisors, political parties, citizens’ organisations and social media networks- in order to boost the relevance of your work
  7. Celebrate the role of teaching as a means of delivering relevance by encouraging a cadre of critically aware citizens and policymakers.

These ideas and the complexities and challenges involved in achieving relevance are explored by a stellar group of experienced political scientists from around the world in a recently published book The Relevance of Political Science.

New PAIR Research Funding: Prime Ministerial Accountability to Parliament

Image: Parliamentary copyright

Dr Alexandra Kelso, Associate Professor of Politics, has recently won Nuffield Foundation funding for a one-year research project examining ‘Prime Ministerial Accountability to Parliament’. The project, which will begin in June 2015, is in collaboration with Dr Mark Bennister (Canterbury Christ Church University) and Dr Phil Larkin (University of Canberra), and will examine the evidence sessions held by the House of Commons Liaison Committee with the Prime Minister, in order to analyse the scrutiny and accountability potential of these sessions. While Prime Minister’s Question Time gets a lot of media attention – and a lot of criticism – few are aware of these more low-profile accountability occasions through which the Prime Minister is asked very detailed questions about the government’s policies and decisions. The research will seek to illuminate this little understood area of parliamentary work.

The team will work closely with the parliamentary clerks and MPs involved with these evidence sessions, in order analyse their accountability contribution, and to provide recommendations for how this form of scrutiny might be improved. The project also involves national and international comparative work, to find similar examples of prime ministerial accountability in other political systems and to learn from them.

This is an exciting piece of research, which is positioned to make significant contributions to our understanding of both the limits and the possibilities of democratic accountability mechanisms. The Nuffield Foundation Open Door programme funds projects which scrutinise constitutional and legislative processes in order to identify opportunities for reform. For more details, see: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/government-and-constitution