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  • Author: Lea Elsässer, Armin Schäfer
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: In this paper, we take up the burgeoning debate about the underrepresentation of the working class in politics. In the literature section we discuss theories of group representation and look at recent empirical studies of responsiveness that have begun to disaggregate public opinion by sociodemographic categories. Empirically, we analyze a dataset of more than 700 survey items collected in Germany between 1980 and 2012. The analysis shows that respondents within one social class are more similar to each other than to members of other classes and that class-based differences outweigh those of education, region, or gender. While opinion differences are not always large, they can reach 50 percentage points. There are frequently gaps of between 20 or 30 percentage points in support for or opposition to policy changes. Since workers’ opinions tend to differ from the opinions of those groups who are well represented in parliament, their numerical underrepresentation might bias decisions against them, as recent studies suggest.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Politics, Race, Social Stratification, Sociology
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Matias Dewey
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: State concerns about crime and security issues have strongly affected conceptions of economic action outside the law, a traditional field of research in sociology. This increasing encroachment by policy-related concerns on the intellectual framework of the discipline has led, on one hand, to an almost exclusive focus on criminal organizations in the analyses of illegal economic activity. On the other hand, it has led to the downplaying of the importance of classic topics of sociological reflection, such as the embeddedness of action, the moral dimension of illegal products, or the relationship between social change and the spread of illegal exchanges. This short paper problematizes economic action outside the law by taking legal definitions and their effects seriously. It begins with the problem of naturalizing state definitions. This is followed by a discussion of the illegality of illegal markets, which illustrates sociological contributions. Finally, three dimensions of the study of illegal markets are suggested. Overall, the paper lays out a research program for this field of sociological inquiry.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Markets, Sociology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Renate Mayntz
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: In sociology generally, the infringement of legal norms is not treated as a special kind of norm violation, the sociology of law being an obvious exception. The study of illegal markets therefore faces the challenge of distinguishing illegality from legality, and relating both to legitimacy. There is no conceptual ambiguity about the distinction between legal and illegal if legality is formally defined. In practice, (formal) legality and (social) legitimacy can diverge: there is both legitimate illegal action and illegitimate legal action. Illegal markets are a special kind of illegal social system, constituted by market transactions. Illegal markets are empirically related to organized crime, mafia and even terrorist organizations, and they interact both with legal markets and the forces of state order. Where legal and illegal action systems are not separated by clear social boundaries, they are connected by what has come to be called “interfaces”: actors moving between a legal and an illegal world, actions that are illegal but perceived as legitimate or the other way around, and a gray zone of actions that are neither clearly legal nor illegal, and neither clearly legitimate nor illegitimate. Interfaces facilitate interaction between legal and illegal action systems, but they are also sources of tension and can lead to institutional change.
  • Topic: Crime, Markets, Sociology, Law
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lukas Haffert
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper challenges the focus on budget deficits that permeates the literature on fiscal policy. It analyzes countries running budget surpluses and asks why some of them preserved these surpluses while others did not. Whereas several OECD members recorded surpluses for just a few years, balanced budgets became the norm in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, and Sweden in the late 1990s. The paper compares the fiscal policy choices of both types of countries from a historical-institutionalist perspective. It argues that a path-dependent shift in the balance of power among fiscal policy interests explains why surpluses persisted in one group of countries but not in the other. This reconfiguration of interests was triggered by a deep fiscal crisis and an ensuing expenditure-led consolidation. It can be interpreted as creating a new “surplus regime” in which fiscal policy became structured around the goals of balancing the budget and cutting taxes.
  • Topic: Economics, Financial Crisis, Budget, Europe
  • Political Geography: Finland, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand
  • Author: Aleksandra Maatsch
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper investigates how the intergovernmental reform process of European economic governance affected national parliaments’ oversight of this policy area. Which parliaments became disempowered and which managed to secure their formal powers – and why? The dependent variable of the study is operationalized as the presence or absence of “emergency legislation” allowing governments to accelerate the legislative process and minimize the risk of a default by constraining national parliaments’ powers. The paper examines how national parliaments in all eurozone states were involved in approving the following measures: the EFSF (establishment and increase of budgetary capacity), the ESM, and the Fiscal Compact. The findings demonstrate that whereas northern European parliaments’ powers were secured (or in some cases even fostered), southern European parliaments were disempowered due to the following factors: (i) domestic constitutional set-up permitting emergency legislation, (ii) national supreme or constitutional courts’ consent to extensive application of emergency legislation, and (iii) international economic and political pressure on governments to prevent default of the legislative process. Due to significant power asymmetries, national parliaments remained de jure but not de facto equal in the exercise of their control powers at the EU level. As a consequence, both the disempowerment of particular parliaments and the asymmetry of powers among them has had a negative effect on the legitimacy of European economic governance.
  • Topic: Politics, Governance, Law, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Robert Warren
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Undocumented immigration has been a significant political issue in recent years, and is likely to remain so throughout and beyond the presidential election year of 2016. One reason for the high and sustained level of interest in undocumented immigration is the widespread belief that the trend in the undocumented population is ever upward. This paper shows that this belief is mistaken and that, in fact, the undocumented population has been decreasing for more than a half a decade. Other findings of the paper that should inform the immigration debate are the growing naturalized citizen populations in almost every US state and the fact that, since 1980, the legally resident foreign-born population from Mexico has grown faster than the undocumented population from Mexico.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Immigrants
  • Political Geography: Mexico, United States of America
  • Author: Elizabeth Carter
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Economists assume increased producer flexibility creates production advantages. So why do inefficient French quality wine producers dominate their flexible, efficient Italian counterparts? French AOC wine producers created “corporatist” producer organizations which served three purposes: encouraged increased product quality information across the supply chain; allowed for the emergence of a unique production style; and enabled producers to define their production methods as “quality” via state regulation. Italian DOC wine producers have fragmented political structures at both the regional and national levels, causing producers to rely more on the price mechanism and less on political structures to coordinate supply chain transactions. Market asymmetries persist across the supply chain, making it difficult for producers to guarantee quality and adversely shaping their potential production and brand strategies. Solving supply chain problems through representative political institutions yields superior economic outcomes than uncoordinated market transactions because the former corrects market power asymmetries.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Politics, Regulation
  • Political Geography: France, Italy, Global Focus
  • Author: Adel Daoud, Bjorn Hallerod, Debarati Guha Sapir
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper explores the degree to which exposure to reoccurring natural disasters of various kinds explains seven dimensions of severe child poverty in 67 middle- and low-income countries. It also analyzes how certain institutional conditions, namely the quality of government (QoG), have moderating effects on the relationship between disasters and child poverty. Two main hypotheses are tested. The first is that disasters do have an adverse average effect on severe poverty. The second is that disasters reveal a positive coefficient (i.e., more disasters, more deprivation) but that higher levels of QoG negatively moderate this effect, i.e., the adverse effect of disasters is diminished by increasingly high QoG levels. From 70 possible combinations of relationships (7 types of deprivation combined with 10 types of natural disaster measures), 11 have the expected correlation between disasters and child deprivation and only one has the expected interactive correlation between quality of government, disasters, and child poverty. Several unexpected results could also be observed which are discussed in the paper along with recommendations for future research.
  • Topic: Economics, Natural Disasters, Governance, Research, Child Poverty
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Martin Höpner, Bojan Jurczyk
  • Publication Date: 10-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper reviews Eurobarometer surveys from 1995 to 2010 and shows how Eurobarometer selects and frames questions in ways that systematically produce “integrationist” outcomes. The violations of the rules of good public opinion research concern incomprehensible, hypothetical, and knowledge-inadequate questions, unbalanced response options, insinuation and leading questions, context effects, and the strategic removal of questions that led to critical responses in previous Eurobarometer waves. It is highly unlikely that the violations happen unintentionally. Eurobarometer therefore blurs the line between research and propaganda.
  • Topic: Sociology, Public Opinion, Research
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Philip Korom, Mark Lutter, Jens Beckert
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The social science literature proposes two competing explanatory frameworks for the existence and longevity of super-fortunes: superstar or winner-take-all mechanisms, suggesting an increased dominance of new self-made billionaires; and mechanisms focusing on inherited advantages, suggesting an enduring importance of old family fortunes. Using panel data from the USA’s annual Forbes 400 ranking (1982–2013), this study analyzes factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of remaining listed among the American super-rich. We find initially that the percentages of self-made entrepreneurs among the highest wealth echelons of US society have increased significantly since 1982. Sectors that improved the most are finance (including hedge funds and private equity), new technology and mass retail. The decline of inheritance as a source of wealth and the rise of new tech and finance fortunes suggest low reproduction rates among superrich property owners. Family wealth, however, plays an important role if the longevity of fortunes is considered. While the literature predicts family fortunes to be taxed away, divided among a large number of heirs, or lost through incompetence, we find that scions of inherited great wealth (mostly up to the third generation) are more likely to remain listed in the Forbes 400 roster than self-made entrepreneurs. We conclude that even though entrepreneurship increasingly matters for becoming super-rich, it is first and foremost the ability of rich family dynasties to retain control over corporations and to access sophisticated financial advice that makes fortunes last.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Social Stratification, Landpower
  • Political Geography: United States of America