Interpretive Political Science Research Methods Course

Many students in political science, public policy and public administration who decide to undertake qualitative or interpretive research feel they are unqualified to do so. In particular they feel that interpretive approaches lack the type of specialised training that has become commonplace in quantitative political science.

The PSA’s Interpretive Political Science Specialist Group, in conjunction with the National Centre for Research Methods, seeks to redress this gap. Our inaugural methods course, held at the University of Southampton, 9 – 11 May 2018, will:

  • Situate the interpretive approach in relation to other ways of doing political science research by reference to the philosophical, epistemological, and methodological assumptions on which these approaches are based;
  • Provide the theoretical and analytical tools students need to design and conduct their research project;
  • Outline the toolkit of methods used by interpretive scholars to collect data, including ethnographic and interview-based methods;
  • Provide a series of standards that will both ensure results are reliable and maximise the impact of findings; and
  • Offer guidance on the norms and principles used to analyse data in an interpretive project.

Led by Southampton’s Prof. R.A.W Rhodes, the course is primarily aimed at PhD students and early career scholars of political science, public policy and public administration. It will be very hands-on, and is set up as a dialogue between the theory and practice of interpretive research. Most fundamentally, the course is organized around the participant’s own research. It does not provide a mere toolbox of analytical instruments to be applied, but will introduce participants to, and let them practice with, the approach, enhancing their skills in research design, data collection and data analysis in the process.

Information on registration, costs, bursaries and registration can be found here: bit.ly/NCRMPoliticalScience

Latin American Studies Around the World: Southampton Hosted the 2018 SLAS Conference

Last week the University of Southampton hosted around 200 experts on Latin American Studies from all over the world who gathered at the 2018 Society of Latin American Studies’ Annual Conference to reflect on the history and current state of Latin American Studies in the UK and around the world.

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A team of ten students from Social Sciences and Humanities were part of the organising team, based at PAIR, and efficiently run this two-day event at the Winchester campus. For most of these students, it was their first experience on a professional academic event of this size and prestige. They enthusiastically combined work experience with attendance to panels and networking with the experts in their favourite topics.

Full information about the conference programme, keynote lecture, closing plenary and more pictures can be found at http://generic.wordpress.soton.ac.uk/slas2018/.

 

Politics Student Alex Blums Wins Prestigious V-Dem Competition for Best Student Paper

The Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute presents the Best Student Paper Award to the “author/authors of a student essay that is outstanding for its theoretical and empirical contributions.” The winner receives $500 USD and is invited to present the paper at the annual V-Dem Conference, with travel and accommodation generously provided.

The 2017 award was won by Alexander Blums, a student in the department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Southampton. The theme for the competition call was “Causes and Effects of Democratization.” Blums won with his paper entitled, “Electoral Democracy and Corruption: A Cross-National Study,” based on his dissertation research at the University of Southampton. The paper was subsequently published as an official Working Paper in the V-Dem Working Paper Series.

We asked Alexander to tell us about how this played out:

I decided to do my dissertation on cross-national predictors of corruption because I thought it was an interesting subject and my dissertation supervisor Raimondas Ibenskas is an expert in comparative politics. My main thesis was that controlling for other variables, the quality of electoral democracy explains corruption in the long and short-term. For data on democracy, I chose to utilise the V-Dem dataset. After submitting my dissertation, Raimondas (my now former supervisor) noticed that V-Dem was running a student paper competition. I made some minor modifications to better fit the requirements of the competition and a few months later received the good news about the prize. My paper was published in the ‘Users Working Paper’ series, I was given a cash prize and invited to take part in an annual conference on Democracy in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Congratulations to Alexander Blums for this much-deserved award. The Department of Politics and International Relations is very proud!

Politics and IR Pub Quiz

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Politics students and lecturers recently got together for a rollicking pub quiz in the Nuffield Theatre cafe on campus. It was really a lot of fun, as you can see below. Many thanks to all the students who came out, and to Chris Armstrong and David Owen for writing the questions and hosting the quiz. This was our first time doing this but, given how well it went over, we’ll very likely do it again sometime! If you couldn’t make it, keep your eyes peeled for the next time we put on something like this.

 

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.