Category Archives: News

Interim Conference in Pavia (May 30 and 31) – schedule available on the website

RC 36 Interim Conference “Power of Narrative” at the University of Pavia, Italy – May 30 and 31, 2017

The schedule is now available on the website.




MAY 30

9:30-12:30 Authority and World Politics

12:30-14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 17:00 Legitimacy and Authority

19:30 Dinner

MAY 31

9:30-12:30 Liberalism, Crisis and the Market Society

12:30-14:00 Lunch

14:00-17:00 Organisations, Social Movements and Empowerment

19:30 Dinner

Call for Panels for Research Committees, IPSA International Conference: Political Science in the Digital Age: Mapping Opportunities, Perils and Uncertainties

Call for Panels for Research Committees

IPSA International Conference

Political Science in the Digital Age:

Mapping Opportunities, Perils and Uncertainties

December 4-6 2017
Hannover, Germany

Program Chairs: Marianne Kneuer and Helen Milner

The International Political Science Association (IPSA) is organizing an international conference that will be held on 4-6 December 2017 in Hannover, Germany. Chaired by Marianne Kneuer and Helen Milner, the conference will take place in Hannover’s spectacular Palace of Herrenhausen, surrounded by gardens that date back to the Baroque period. You can find more information on the event website

The conference, entitled “Political Science in the Digital Age: Mapping Opportunities, Perils and Uncertainties”, provides the opportunity for a reflection on the discipline and one of its most relevant challenges, namely digitalization. The conference aims to bring together officials and members of the national Political Science Associations of IPSA and members the IPSA Research Committees in order to further develop networks and cooperation among these groups. The conference will also be a platform for addressing challenges as well as developing ideas for future research within IPSA.

Digitalization – or the integration of digital technologies into all aspects of everyday life – is the most dominant signature of the 21th century so far. Society, economy and politics are all affected by a multitude of implications that digitalization embodies. The Internet and social media have not only multiplied the communications channels in an unprecedented way but also have had a substantial impact on the interaction between politicians and citizens as well as all societal actors. Formerly more or less institutionalized channels of communication between on one side politicians and media, on the other side media and citizens have been replaced by a myriad of decentralized networks. While actors in politics and media formerly steered communications flows, digital-based networks now tend to have unpredictable effects in their scope, scale, and therefore in their impact. Opinion-building and decision-making processes are increasingly influenced by the functional logic of digital media; factors like the acceleration and synchronicity of information, the multimodality of the messages, and the interactivity and connectedness of providers and users all are reshaping social, economic, and political life. This is true for domestic as well as for international politics. The dissolution of communicative boundaries creates a new transnational space of connectedness on all levels of agency. In consequence, ideas, norms and values spread more easily and rapidly; in the same way the diffusion of policies, institutional elements, and governance techniques are facilitated.

For the discipline of Political Science the digital revolution implies at least two challenges: On one side, the subjects of research are concerned: national as well as international actors, communication between government and societal actors, the relation between politicians and citizens, aspects of political economy, aspects of regulation, e-governance and net politics, diplomacy cybercrimes and cyberwar, etc. On the other side, digitalization influences the academic sphere not only in terms of research but also in terms of teaching, learning and publishing. This latter challenge includes the more practical dimension involving political consulting and policy recommendations.

It is important that Political Scientists reflect on the current and future implications that the digital age holds for the discipline. The aim of the conference is to examine these challenges adopting a broad approach. Such a broad perspective will enable examining how digital media transforms the relations and communications between international, governmental and societal actors. The conference will comprehend five thematic sessions:


Political Theory

How do digital media influence the public sphere? Do they open new spaces for deliberation? What implications does it have for politics if the boundary between public and private increasingly becomes blurred? Where are the boundaries between gains of freedom and loss of privacy? What does it imply about political discourse now that citizens have become content providers? Does the openness of information foster more knowledge or does it facilitate the ‘transparent citizen’?

Comparative Politics

How will the digital revolution affect politics? How do politicians use digital media? What changes can we observe in electoral campaigning and elections themselves? And how do citizens use digital media? Can citizens’ online participation fill the ‘participation gap’ and enhance legitimacy? Or are emerging new participatory divides? Does the digital revolution help spread knowledge and/or allow ever more elite control of information provision? Which digital divides can be identified and which effects do they have on opinion-building and decision-making? Is the Internet prone to enhance inclusion or does is accentuate exclusiveness among people? Do e-voting, e-referenda, etc. provide new opportunities for decision-making and political accountability? How do authoritarian regimes exploit digital media? Does digitalization help keep them in power or provide means to push for more democracy?

International Relations and World Economy

How do digital communications and networks affect relations among countries? Is the digital revolution an asset or rather a stress factor for international politics? What consequences does this new ‘openness’ have for international diplomacy? Is the digital revolution a source of progress or rather an obstacle for international cooperation? What impact will cyberwarfare have? Does this represent a new domain of conflict among countries, which is more dangerous?  What are the implications of the fact that the providers of communication networks and the owners of massive amounts of personal data like Google and Facebook at the same time are firms? Will the digital revolution accelerate economic growth or retard it? Will it increase inequality given the “digital divide” among countries, or help alleviate it? Will it increase the probability of economic crises as it speeds up communications and compounds agents’ reactions? And does the availability of ever more data available to ever more people at ever faster speeds provide more benefits or more dangers?


Which new methodological tools have been facilitated by digital technology? And which new methodological approaches or tools do we need to capture online communication and interaction (e.g., online content analysis)? Which new ways of data collection are available, and what are the implications for researchers for data protection? Do we need new theories and concepts? How should studies be tailored to capture the empirical implications of digitalization in the various subdisciplines?

Teaching and Learning

Which new opportunities provides digitalization for teaching (see e.g. MOOCs)? Which teaching formats can combine digital and analogue approaches? Who can benefit from e-learning and how? How can citizenship education benefit from digital modes of knowledge and value building?

Proposal Procedure

The conference consists of different formats of panels. The Program Chairs offer the Research Committees to organize panels in the exposed Sessions. The slots for each panel are 90 minutes. Please submit panel proposals before April, 15 2017.

What to include in your panel proposal:

1)      The Session where you want to be allocated.

2)      Title of the panel.

3)      Chair and Co-Chair, discussant for the panel (names, affiliation, mailing address).

4)      Abstracts of 4-5 paper givers (names, affiliation, mailing address).

Please send the proposals to

Note that every participant must be IPSA members.

Power, luck and freedom (Collected essays) by Keith Dowding


Recently published by Manchester University Press



This book presents thirteen essays from a leading contemporary political scientist, with a substantial introduction bringing together the themes. The topics covered include political and social power, freedom, choice, rights, responsibility, the author’s unique account of luck and systematic luck and the nature of leadership. There are also discussions of conceptual analysis, the structure-agency debate, luck egalitarianism, Sen’s liberal paradox, problems in the measurement of freedom and choice and the differences between instrumental and intrinsic accounts of the value of freedom and related concepts.

The wide-ranging material will provide an excellent text for students at all levels. It is appropriate reading for a host of courses in the fields of political science, political sociology and political theory at both undergraduate and graduate level. Whilst addressing some philosophically difficult and advanced subjects, the accessible writing makes the subject-matter comprehensible for all levels of students.

Panel for ISA International Conference 2017, Hong Kong

I am interested in creating a panel for the International Studies Association International Conference in Hong Kong, 2017. The panel will discuss Soft Power in the Asia Pacific. The actual proposal may be more precise depending on the interests of the panelists. If anyone is interested in participating in such a panel or acting as discussant for a panel, please contact me directly, Steven B. Rothman,

RC 36 Panel at APSA Saturday Sept 3 at 4 pm

Dear RC 36 Members,

In case you are at APSA and missed this, there is a Power panel on Saturday. We hope you can attend. See below for information

Social Transformations and the Changing Faces of Power
Saturday, September 3, 4:00 to 5:30pm, Marriott, Room 409

Related Group Panel, International Political Science Association Research Committee No. 36, Political Power
Co-sponsor: IPSA Research Committee 1 (Concepts and Methods)

Panel abstract

Political power can take many forms, shaped by—and shaping—wider social transformations. Since 1648 we have become accustomed to associating power with the consolidation of state institutions and identities, but diverse structural trends are challenging those assumptions in the 21st century. One of the most obvious is globalization, characterized by rapidly evolving transboundary linkages, networks and hierarchies. Within states, various new identities are coming to the fore, local, ethnic and religious, bringing new relationships of power—“power over, “power to,” and “power with.” Regional power relationships, most obviously in Europe but also in Russia, Asia, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere, are emerging in uneven ways. This panel looks at transformations of political power above, below, within, and cutting across the domestic/international frontier.

Philip G. Cerny, University of Manchester and Rutgers University

Julie Mostov, Drexel University

Analyzing Power in a Post-Westphalian World

Thomas Biebricher, Goethe University Frankfurt

Conceiving the world as an ideal-typical “Westphalian System” of nation-states has multiple implications for political analysis. The inside-outside dualism of container-like nation states suggested that power tends to operate in categorically different ways on the anarchic international level, where military force is the ultimate arbiter of things, and the domestic level where power manifests itself predominantly in forms of rule/domination that are tamed by the rule of law. In other words, approaches to study the workings of power developed by theorists of international relations differ markedly from contemporary understandings of power in political theory that often exhibit an implicit or explicit ‘methodological nationalism’, as scholars like Ulrich Beck have called it, i.e. a bias towards theorizing against the taken for granted domestic background of nation state structures etc.

The paper proposes to overcome this dualism in the analysis of power and suggests an analytical framework to study power in a Post-Westphalian world. The first step of the argument is to take stock of the various developments that make it seem plausible to speak of a transformation of the Westphalian into a Post-Westphalian world and what exactly this means. One key aspect of a Post-Westphalian world is the relative leveling of the distinction between the domestic and the international level, therefore the paper proposes a framework that can capture the workings of power across various levels from the municipal to the supranational. More specifically, the framework suggested seeks to analyze power in the various forms it may take, on the various levels it may manifest itself on and in the various spaces where it is exercised. The final step of the paper is to explore, whether such a three-dimensional framework with a fourfold differentiation within each of these dimensions (e.g. four levels on which power manifests itself: the supranational, the national, the regional the municipal) can serve as an analytical tool for a better understanding of some typical phenomena of a Post-Westphalian world from the refugee situation in Europe to the various conflicts in the Middle East.

Wielding Soft Power through Narration

Sarina Theys, Newcastle University

This paper critically engages with the concept of soft power. It rejects the notion that soft power is vested in resources as these do not automatically generate soft power. Having resources only means that there is a potential to wield soft power. The paper further argues that resources can only become attractive to others if they are part of a strategic narrative. In order to illustrate this argument, the paper will analyse the soft power campaigns of one small state, Bhutan. As such, Bhutan’s soft power will be empirically investigated by analysing the strategic narratives developed and projected by the Bhutanese elites. Since attraction and persuasion are socially constructed, and not naturally given, the paper further investigates the reception of Bhutan’s projected narratives. How narratives are read by the audiences is crucial for Bhutanese elites to wield soft power. The paper draws upon unique data gathered from primary sources collected by the author during fieldwork in Bhutan in 2009, 2011 and 2014. Interviews were conducted with Bhutanese elites, representatives from other countries and international organisations and scholars based in Bhutan.

Relational Freedom, Power-with, and the Sociality of Authority

Carol C. Gould, City University of New York


The central problem of justifying political authority and articulating its connection to power is an old one in political theory, dating from Grotius and Hobbes to the analytic disputes in the concluding decades of the last century. In those more recent discussions, consent and contract theories vied with diverse other approaches, including justifications in terms of fair play, benefits received, associative obligations, and communitarianism. But problems were found with each of these strategies of justification. Important feminist critiques were advanced as well, with a particular focus on the voluntary obligations assumed by social contract and consent theories, in contrast to the responsibilities or constraints often experienced by women. Forms of political authority were contrasted with political power or else understood as legitimate power.

All these forms of justification, however, took as their focus political authority within a nation-state. With the increasing globalization of the economic and technological domains, we have seen the emergence of regional and other transnational groupings of states, as well as the introduction of numerous global governance institutions. But the status of political authority and the legitimacy of the exercise of power by these new supranational groupings and global institutions remain in question. Moreover, our standpoints themselves are increasingly cosmopolitan or global, with nation-states now being seen as exercising their power contingently, both in the historical sense, and also contingent on their regard for norms of human rights. Moreover, democracy has come to the fore as a potential criterion for the legitimate exercise of power and authority. New social movements and civil society associations also play an increased role in the authority landscape, as it were, through their networks that claim to represent people to the global,regional, or even national entities who are in the best position to exercise power and authority. The individualist starting points of the older justifications—in which authority derives from consent or contract among separate individuals—are inadequate for the sorts of social and political transformations that many argue are needed at this point, that is, toward more cooperative forms of economy, society, and politics.

I will ask how we should understand political authority and its relation to various forms of power, given our commitments to human rights, democracy, and the importance of cooperative forms of social relations. I will examine again the notions of freedom and authorship, argue for a more social interpretation of each of these as a basis for our political commitments to each other, and analyze power in a way that draws on the feminist notion of power-with more than on the older notions of power over and power to. The connection to democracy will also be explored to consider how political authority and democratic legitimacy are related, particularly given the democratic deficit in regard to the institutions of global governance, and in regional groupings like the EU. The aim will be to identify a democratic conception of authority rooted in our sociality, rather than in the exercise of political power per se, and so as applicable to a range of institutions both within and outside of politics.

Migration and the Transformation of Political Power
Gallya Lahav, State University of New York at Stonybrook

Migration has been transforming world politics and society since prehistoric times. Conflict, competition and coalition-building among earlier and more recent arrivals has led to a layering of societies from the local to the global, and the resulting patterns of political power have been both stabilizing and destabilizing in different geographical areas and eras. The main institutional development in “modern” societies has been the structural shift from the fluid interaction of tribalism, imperialism and early capitalist development to the consolidation of the domestic nation-state and the “states system” internationally, involving shifting attempts to shoehorn migrating groups into state “containers.” However, with the acceleration of economic, technological, sociological and political globalization since the late 20th century, new patterns and pressures of migration not seen for decades are challenging and, in some parts of the world, the statist framework of world politics—both from the top down and from the bottom up, as nation-states at both sending and receiving ends of complex and growing migratory patterns find it more and more difficult to cope within their existing political frameworks. As a result of this and other trends that Rosenau called “fragmegration,” political power is becoming more messy and difficult to exercise, undermining the stability and the legitimacy of the states system.

Political Power in Russia: Consolidation, Transition or Fragmentation?

Peter Rutland, Wesleyan University
The evolution of Russia since 1991 poses both empirical and conceptual challenges for our understanding of political power. In the wake of the chaos and institutional breakdown of the 1990s, the Russian state re-emerged as an apparently “strong” state under Putin. But the internal dynamics of the Russian elite, behind a democratic façade, remained opaque. What were the forces holding the elite together—a patriotic ideology, or just venal self-interest? Is corruption alone sufficient as a glue to create a coherent elite in the era of globalization? There are rich opportunities for comparative analysis of political power in Russia alongside other populist strongman regimes such as Erdogan in Turkey, Sisi in Egypt and Chavez/Maduro in Venezuela. The age-old tendency for such elites to fragment once the leader is gone is even more problematic as multilayered and often transboundary-linked economic interests, socio-cultural identity groups, military hierarchies, multiparty conflicts and reform elements jockey for power and attempt to restructure institutions and political processes. Apparent stability can lead to rapid destabilization in a range of ways that vary from country to country but have common underlying dynamics


Giulio Gallarotti, Chair of RC 36