Interview with Katerina Vrablikova on Economic Hardship, Politicization and Protest

Katerina Vrablikova, of the University of Bath, UK, recently presented a paper, “Economic Hardship, Politicization and Protest in Western Democracies,” at the Politics and Inequality conference held in Warsaw, Poland.

Since Fall 2018, Kateřina Vráblíková has been a senior lecturer in Politics at the Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies at the University of Bath. During Spring 2019, she is also an Istvan Deak Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. She does research on social movements, political participation, political attitudes and culture, and democracy. Her book, What Kind of Democracy? Participation, Inclusiveness and Contestation was published by Routledge in 2017.

We asked Katerina Vrablikova for an extended abstract of her Politics and Inequality conference paper and, via email, some questions about her research. We are thankful for her positive and detailed response.

Extended Abstract: “Economic Hardship, Politicization and Protest in Western Democracies” 

How and why does economic crisis and similar situations trigger protest of poor? The paper argues that in addition to the expansion of the pool of deprived people, who can potentially protest (composition mechanism), events like the Economic crisis also provide a supportive political environment for political mobilization of socio-economically excluded groups (mobilization mechanism). As potentially very threatening and unpredictable event, economic crisis can skyrocket the salience of the economic problems in national politics. This opens space for the re-definition of economic issues and identities and for political mobilization of socio-economically deprived people, who, under normal circumstances do not participate much because they lack resources necessary for participation. Typically, protest attracts relatively resourceful and financially secure people, who get active around a variety of issues that are not directly related to their personal situation, such as environmental, anti-war, women’s rights, anti-corruption mobilizations. Protest of socio-economically deprived people is different. It is motivated by the personal experience of bad socio-economic conditions that becomes a purpose of mobilization and tales place despite the lack of individual resources. The article uses data from four waves of European Social Survey that are combined with macro-economic data and aggregated survey data (Eurobarometer) on public concern about national economy (percentage of people saying that the economic situation is very bad). The results show that poor people were most likely to protest in times of the Economic crisis in countries where the economic problems raised a very high concern. In the period before the Great Recession and in countries where economic problems were not recognized as severe and salient, poor people are much less likely to protest. In this special situation of economic crisis, poor thus get mobilized and join the better-off protesters, who are the usual suspects at ordinary protests that get mobilized by salient issues also during normal times.

Interview 

The research you presented at the Politics and Inequality conference was on the economic crisis and protest. How did you get interested in this topic? And how is this topic connected to other research that you are doing?

In summer 2012, the Czech Republic experienced relatively high level of anti-austerity protest. That time I just defended my dissertation on non-electoral participation and worked at the Czech Academy of Sciences. I was asked in a radio interview about the causes of such unusually high protest mobilization and I, in fact, was not able to tell much in reply. Because, normally, we would say that it is more resourceful people and people with post-materialist values, who usually participate in politics more, including protest. These protests, however, did not seem to fit to this “privileged postmaterialist protester” story. For instance, an anti-Roma march in a Czech regional capital (in fact one that I come from) was the largest collective mobilization in the city since the 1989 revolution and, according to observers, the participants included a handful of rightwing extremists and low-income and low-educated Czechs. The profile of participants thus corresponded to old social movement theories that expect socio-economic grievances to trigger protest and that were considered disapproved in mainstream political participation and social movement literature. So, I followed this up and read more about the role of mobilizing grievances. It turned out that political context might play an important role in activation of the relatively unusual grievance participatory mechanismAnd this point very well fitted to my general interest in how political environment shapes citizens’ activism and preferences. In my other research, I have examined the role of political institutions and political culture on individual non-electoral participation.

Continue reading “Interview with Katerina Vrablikova on Economic Hardship, Politicization and Protest”

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Report on the Politics and Inequality Conference in Warsaw December 2018

Download a PDF of the report here: Politics and Inequality Conference in Warsaw, Poland Report December 2018

The international conference, “Politics and Inequality across Nations and Time: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches,” was held at IFiS PAN, December 12 – 14, 2018 in Warsaw, Poland. The event is part of the research project, “Political Voice and Economic Inequality across Nations and Time,” funded by the National Science Centre, Poland (2016/23/B/HS6/03916) from 2017 to 2020. The PI of that grant is Joshua K. Dubrow. The purpose of the grant project is to advance the theory, methods, and empirical base for studying the relationship between political inequality and economic inequality.

The conference brought together young and established scholars of the social sciences from the Europe, USA, and Latin America. Presentations were on substantive and methodological issues related to political voice and economic inequality.

Conference Program and Titles and Abstracts

The conference featured two keynote speakers, five sessions, and a roundtable discussion. Professor Andrzej Rychard, Director of IFiS PAN, officially opened the conference.

Frederick Solt, an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa, USA, whose interests are in comparative political behavior and political economy from a cross-national perspective, delivered the first keynote speech. Professor Solt created and maintains the Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIID). His research appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, Political Behavior, and Social Science Quarterly, among others. Professor Solt’s keynote was: “Economic Inequality, Demand for Redistribution, and Redistributive Outcomes: Building the Empirical Foundations for Dynamic Comparative Research.” In this speech, Professor Solt described SWIID, which he continually refines and updates, as a source of data on income inequality and redistribution. He then discussed his recent project, the Dynamic Comparative Public Opinion (DCPO) that is designed “to overcome the sparsity and incomparability of available survey data and provide comparable estimates of public opinion regarding redistribution for many countries over many years” (Conference abstract).

Catherine Bolzendahl, an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California-Irvine, USA, whose interests are in gender and political change cross-nationally and over time, delivered the second keynote speech. Professor Bolzendahl’s research has appeared in Social Forces, European Sociological Review, and Politics & Gender, among other outlets.  Professor Bolzendahl’s keynote was: “Women’s Political Empowerment: A Path toward Progress in Uncertain Times.” In this keynote, Professor Bolzendahl presented an overview of her long-running cross-national research on women’s unequal political voice, including her recent co-edited book Measuring Women’s Political Empowerment Across the Globe: Strategies, Challenges and Future Research (2017, Palgrave). Her research “highlights the continued urgency to understand gender inequality through social and political research and data collection” (Conference abstract).

Sessions in the conference included the topics of economic redistribution and the elite; political protest; the association of economic inequality, political power, and political participation; gender and politics; and voting behavior. Most papers featured quantitative methods and many papers in these sessions included Professor Solt’s SWIID data and his theories of the association between economic inequality and political participation. Professor Bolzendahl was the discussant on the gender and politics session that featured presentations by Professor Renata Siemienska, who has produced influential research in the field of women and politics over the last four decades, and by GSSR PhD candidate Nika Palaguta, who co-edited the methodology book, Towards Electoral Control in Central and Eastern Europe (2016, IFiS Publishers). The topic of ex-post harmonization of cross-national surveys was presented by IFiS PAN assistant professor Irina Tomescu-Dubrow (affiliated with The Ohio State University OSU) and IFiS PAN and OSU professor Kazimierz M. Slomczynski, who are co-PIs (with J. Craig Jenkins) on the National Science Foundation grant, “Survey Data Recycling: New Analytic Framework, Integrated Database, and Tools for Cross-national Social, Behavioral and Economic Research.”

The roundtable discussion, “Aggregating Survey Data: Problems and Solutions,” was led by Fred Solt, Kazimierz M. Slomczynski, Catherine Bolzendahl, and WZB Berlin Social Science Center post-doctoral scholar Constantin Manuel Bosancianu.  Aggregate measures of political behavior and attitudes are part of the project “Political Voice and Economic Inequality across Nations and Time,” including the production of a publicly available database of country-year level indicators of political voice inequality, constructed on the basis of cross-national survey data and information from non-survey sources. Roundtable participants discussed the topic and potential measures of political voice.  This roundtable provided new knowledge and a basis for research publications on this popular methodological issue.

Funding for this event came from the National Science Centre, Poland (“Political Voice and Economic Inequality across Nations and Time” 2016/23/B/HS6/03916), from the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and a conference grant from the Polish Academy of Sciences, with organizational support from IFiS PAN and CONSIRT – Cross-National Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training Program of The Ohio State University and PAN 

Participants

There were 34 attendees from Europe, the United States, and Latin America. Of the fifteen conference presenters, eight were from institutions outside of Poland. Students from the Graduate School for Social Research and the University of Warsaw attended. Participants hailed from across the social sciences, including sociology, political science, and economics.

The conference participants were: Frederick Solt, University of Iowa, USA; Catherine Bolzendahl, University of California-Irvine, USA; Renira Angeles, Central European University, Hungary; Jan Falkowski, University of Warsaw, Poland; Matias Lopez, Catholic University of Chile, Chile; Katerina Vrablikova, University of Bath, UK; Viktoriia Muliavka, Graduate School for Social Research, Poland; Olga Zelinska, Graduate School for Social Research, Poland; Gwangeun Choi, University of Essex, UK; Matthew Polacko, Royal Holloway, University of London, UK; Irina Tomescu-Dubrow and Kazimierz M. Slomczynski, IFiS PAN, CONSIRT, and The Ohio State University; Renata Siemienska, University of Warsaw, Poland; Nika Palaguta, Graduate School for Social Research, Poland; Constantin Manuel Bosancianu, WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Germany; Piotr Zagorski, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain; Michal Kotnarowski, Institute of Political Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences; Marta Kolczynska, post-doctoral scholar of the grant at IFiS PAN; and Joshua K. Dubrow, IFiS PAN, who was lead organizer of the conference.

Outcomes 

There were several outcomes of this conference. First, the conference highlighted the fact that IFiS PAN continues to be a major research center in the social sciences in Poland. Second, the conference built and strengthened a network of scholars who work on the topic of politics and inequality in cross-national and comparative perspective. Third, participants will use the conference and the networks as a springboard for publishing their research in high-quality publications. On that score, Joshua K. Dubrow and Matias Lopez intend to produce a guest edited issue of a peer-reviewed social science journal on the topic of democracy, politics, and inequality, featuring work from scholars at this conference and others in the field. Two of the conference participants, Professor Bolzendahl and Professor Dubrow, are co-editors of the Political Sociology section of Sociology Compass (Wiley Publishers), and invited participants to contribute an article. Fourth, there has been popularization of the event held at IFiS PAN, as conference participants “live Tweeted” the event on Twitter. The conference program and titles and abstracts are published on this website, where there will follow popular articles about conference participants’ presentations and research.

polinq twitter

Politics and Inequality Conference: Program and Abstracts

We are pleased to present the final program and the titles and abstracts for the conference, “Politics and Inequality across Nations and Time: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches,” December 12 – 14, 2018, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, 72 Nowy Swiat, Warsaw, Poland

Politics and Inequality Conference in Warsaw December 2018: PROGRAM

Politics and Inequality Conference in Warsaw December 2018: Abstracts

The conference also features a roundtable on “Aggregating Survey Data: Problems and Solutions.” Here is the description of the conference Roundtable on Aggregating Survey Data 

Political Voice and Economic Inequality across Nations and Time proposal from 2016

Funding for this event comes from the National Science Centre, Poland (“Political Voice and Economic Inequality across Nations and Time” 2016/23/B/HS6/03916), from the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and a conference grant from the Polish Academy of Sciences, with organizational support from IFiS PAN and CONSIRT – Cross-National Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training Program at The Ohio State University and PAN.

IFiS LogoPAN logo

 

Catherine Bolzendahl to Deliver a Keynote Speech at Politics and Inequality Conference in Warsaw

Catherine Bolzendahl ( @C_Bolzendahl ) of the University of California – Irvine will deliver a keynote speech at the conference, “Politics and Inequality across Nations and Time: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches,” at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, December 12 – 14, 2018 in Warsaw, Poland.

Professor Bolzendahl’s keynote title:

“Women’s Political Empowerment: A Path Toward Progress in Uncertain Times”

Abstract:

“Few social changes have been as dramatic and rapid as the increased political representation of women worldwide. Scholars and public figures rightfully tout these gains as remarkable evidence of greater gender equality, yet nowhere do women hold equal power to men in influencing and exercising political authority worldwide and efforts to increase women’s political agency are often actively and violently repressed. Addressing these issues means the comprehensive inclusion of women’s political empowerment as cornerstone of global research. I discuss how this is defined in my co-authored scholarship and using findings from my own current research I illustrate three axioms in this approach. First, women’s political empowerment is not a zero-sum game, and gender equality opens, rather than closes, the political domain to all members of society. Second, sex and gender are used simultaneously to create status inequalities that disadvantage women, thus, women’s political empowerment requires special attention given that women are the largest categorical group today experiencing long-term, ongoing barriers to political incorporation worldwide. Third, inequalities in political empowerment cut across multiple statuses and other sources of inequality. In sum, my work highlights the continued urgency to understand gender inequality through social and political research and data collection.”

catherine bolzendahlCatherine Bolzendahl is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California-Irvine, USA. Professor Bolzendahl’s interests are in political change cross-nationally and over time, gender and politics, and of the meaning of family and gender in the political culture of the U.S. and in Western industrialized democracies. Professor Bolzendahl’s research has appeared in Social Forces, European Sociological Review, and British Journal of Sociology, among others. For information about her research, please visit: https://faculty.sites.uci.edu/catherinebolzendahl/

The conference is funded by Poland’s National Science Centre and a grant from the Polish Academy of Sciences, with organizational support from IFiS PAN, and CONSIRT – Cross-National Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training Program of The Ohio State University and PAN (CONSIRT.osu.edu).

The conference is free and open to the public. Click here for more information about the conference. 

 

Frederick Solt to Deliver a Keynote Speech at Politics and Inequality Conference in Warsaw

Frederick Solt ( @fredericksolt ) of the University of Iowa will deliver a keynote speech at the conference, “Politics and Inequality across Nations and Time: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches,” at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, December 12 – 14, 2018 in Warsaw, Poland.

Professor Solt’s keynote title:

“Economic Inequality, Demand for Redistribution, and Redistributive Outcomes: Building the Empirical Foundations for Dynamic Comparative Research.”

Abstract:

“Does rising income inequality in a country yield greater demand for more redistributive policy among its citizens? Does greater public demand prompt more redistribution? The answers to both of these questions are clearly not simply yes or no, but conditional on other circumstances. Assessing hypotheses regarding these circumstances will require comparable data–on inequality, on public opinion, and on redistribution–across space and time. This paper takes up that task. It first evaluates the author’s long-running project, the Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIID), as a source of data on income inequality and redistribution for this purpose. It then applies the author’s new approach, Dynamic Comparative Public Opinion (DCPO), to overcome the sparsity and incomparability of available survey data and provide comparable estimates of public opinion regarding redistribution for many countries over many years. Finally, it offers an appraisal of whether the combination of these two datasets can serve as a sound basis for further investigation of these two questions on the consequences of income inequality for politics and policy.”

frederick soltFrederick Solt is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa whose interests are in comparative political behavior and political economy from a cross-national perspective. Professor Solt created and maintains the Standardized World Income Inequality Database (SWIID). His research appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, Political Behavior, and Social Science Quarterly, among others. For a full list of his publications and more information about SWIID, please visit his website: https://fsolt.org/

The conference is funded by Poland’s National Science Centre and a grant from the Polish Academy of Sciences, with organizational support from IFiS PAN, and CONSIRT – Cross-National Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training Program of The Ohio State University and PAN (CONSIRT.osu.edu).

The conference is free and open to the public. Click here for more information about the conference.

Political Voice and Economic Inequality Conference in Warsaw, Poland

The research project, “Political Voice and Economic Inequality across Nations and Time,” funded by Poland’s National Science Centre, is organizing its first event.

Politics and Inequality Conference PRELIMINARY Program

The interdisciplinary conference, “Politics and Inequality across Nations and Time: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches,” will be held at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences (IFiS PAN), December 12 – 14, 2018 in Warsaw, Poland.

The conference will bring together young and established scholars of the social sciences from the U.S., Latin America, and Europe. Presentations will be on substantive and methodological issues related to political voice and economic inequality. The event is free to the public by reservation. Please contact Joshua K. Dubrow: dubrow.2@osu.edu.

Keynote Speakers:

Frederick Solt, University of Iowa

“Economic Inequality, Demand for Redistribution, and Redistributive Outcomes: Building the Empirical Foundations for Dynamic Comparative Research”

Catherine Bolzendahl, University of California – Irvine

“Women’s Political Empowerment: A Path Toward Progress in Uncertain Times”

The conference also features presentations by:

Katerina Vrablikova, University of Bath, UK

Jan Falkowski, University of Warsaw, Poland

Constantin Manuel Bosancianu, WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Germany

Renira Angeles, Central European University, Hungary

Matias Lopez, Catholic University of Chile

Gwangeun Choi, University of Essex, UK

Piotr Zagorski and Andrés Santana, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain

and

Professor Renata Siemienska, The R. B. Zajonc Institute for Social Studies, Head of UNESCO Chair “Women -Society- Development”, University of Warsaw, Poland, whose presentation is titled, “Gender inequality and its sources: comparison of politicians and scientists.”

A complete list of presenters and the event program will be available soon.

Funding for this event comes from the National Science Centre, Poland (“Political Voice and Economic Inequality across Nations and Time” 2016/23/B/HS6/03916), from the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and a conference grant from the Polish Academy of Sciences, with organizational support from IFiS PAN and CONSIRT – Cross-National Studies: Interdisciplinary Research and Training Program at The Ohio State University and PAN.

How Do Digital Technologies Impact Political Inequality?

Part I.

Digital technologies have enabled a dystopic political inequality where politics is possible for the few and impossible for the many. The way out is a variant on Timothy Leary’s life advice with a Luddite twist: Turn off the machines, tune out the information noise, and drop in to the homes of family and friends. The way forward is to pop the information bubble, re-connect with human beings, boycott the segmenters, and dare to be brave.

Please allow me to explain.

Voice & Response

Politics is a tool used to gain power over important decisions that impact our lives. This tool has two parts: Voice and Response.

Voice is how we express our political complaints, desires, demands, and interests to our fellow human beings across nations, to our fellow citizens within nations, and to government. Voice activates directly through what social scientists call “political participation,” such as public marches, writing letters to our representatives or to the media, boycotting products, and voluntarily organizing the political interests of particular groups, to name a few. We also activate our political voice indirectly via people and organizations that claim to carry our voice into government, such as parliamentarians, political parties, non-governmental organizations in civil society, and special independent arms of the government (the ombudsperson or special envoy, for example).

Response is what the decision-makers do with our voice. They can respond with mere symbols, such as declaring Black History Month to address institutional racism. They can respond with formal and informal policy initiatives.

We Are Politically Unequal

Today’s modern societies in which digital technology plays a starring role is characterized by political inequality. Political equality is the assumed foundation of modern democracy. Yet, everywhere there is democracy – indeed, everywhere there is politics – there is political inequality. Political inequality is structured differences in influence over government decisions and the outcomes of those decisions. It is inequality of voice and it is inequality of response.

Continue reading “How Do Digital Technologies Impact Political Inequality?”