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  • Author: Barbara Fulda
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: How can we understand subnational differences in fertility rates? The most common explanations see the key to these differences in the socio-structural composition of a region’s population and its structural conditions. However, such explanations fail to account for fertility rate differences in regions with similar populations and structures. This paper analyzes two social milieus in southern Germany and argues that variations in their fertility rates can only be understood through their cultural differences. Family extension patterns as well as opportunity structures (such as the availability of childcare facilities) are substantially influenced by the regionally differing cultural norms formed and held by social milieu members. To better explain differences in fertility rates and to understand the regionally differing effects of family policy measures, demographic research therefore needs to include culture in its understanding of demographic behavior.
  • Topic: Demographics, Sociology, Culture, Children, Research
  • Political Geography: Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Sarah Hearn, Alejandra Kubitschek Bujones, Alischa Kugel
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: There is a broad agreement that the United Nations’ “Peacebuilding Architecture” (PBA) has failed to live up to the high hopes that existed when the 2005 World Summit agreed to establish the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and its related entities, the Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) and the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF). This paper explores why this is the case. We briefly review the initial logic and expectations of the PBA in part 1, and sketch out the factors that have affected the PBA’s impact both positively and negatively in part 2. We also think it is important to understand the PBA in the context of the evolution and expansion of wider UN peacebuilding efforts, and further detail the existing relationships with UN peace operations in part 3.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, United Nations, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sarah Hearn
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Ambassadors Review
  • Abstract: This short paper provides an overview of the evidence on why institution-building is central to successful peacebuilding, and aims to stimulate fresh thinking on ideas for improving international institution-building efforts. The international community is moving at a slow pace to improve its performance in this area, despite a range of international commitments to building national institutions and ownership in conflict-affected countries. I argue that the UN could pursue more innovation, especially in the areas of south-south and triangular cooperation, setting norms for institution-building, and sustaining long-term attention to institution-building, as well as championing the development of a wider range of aid instruments and partnerships. Finally, I point to major data and evidence gaps, and suggest generating more north-south knowledge partnerships on the subject as a matter of priority – especially around building national ownership and supporting inclusive institution-building processes.
  • Topic: Development, Regional Cooperation, United Nations, International Affairs, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sarah Hearn, Jeffrey Strew
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were a game-changer because they channelled aid and developing countries’ revenues into a discrete package of priorities for eradicating extreme poverty. Undeniably, significant progress was made across peaceful developing countries against the eight MDGs (see box). According to the World Bank, absolute poverty has been halved (although not evenly in each country and region). In 1990, 43.1 per cent of the population in developing countries lived on less than 1.25 US dollars (USD) a day; by 2010, this rate dropped to 20.6 per cent. The world is close to attaining universal primary education too – 90 per cent of children in developing countries are completing primary education (although sub-Saharan Africa is behind at 70 %) (World Bank, 2014).
  • Topic: Education, Human Welfare, Poverty, World Bank, Children, Millennium Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ian Easton, Charles Ferguson
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: America's security alliances with Japan and South Korea made headlines last month. In addition to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's address to a joint session of Congress, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter visited both Japan and South Korea. Their main focus was on how to fortify Seoul's and Tokyo's security alliance ties with the US against possible Chinese and North Korean military threats.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ashley W. Hooper
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: In February 2014, violent protests erupted in Tuzla and quickly spread to multiple other Bosnian cities, including Mostar and Sarajevo. Initially, the protests were labeled as the “Bosnian Spring,” a term used to describe a state that is undergoing revolutionary change; however, this term was used prematurely in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina and by April the protest movement had completely lost momentum. The cause for dissatisfaction among citizens was driven by nearly a decade of political stagnation. The lack of political progression can largely be attributed to the legacy of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which brought an end to the ethnically driven atrocities. However, the agreement also formed a uniquely complicated governmental structure based on ethnicity—providing a political framework in which elites are able to evade accountability. Political competition has been greatly decreased by the continued presence of wartime-ethno parties, which dominate the political discourse—perpetuating fear and mistrust among the electorate. I argue that there is a crisis of democratization halting the political progression and European integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina caused by a lack of both political accountability and competition.
  • Topic: Political Theory, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Charles Breiterman
  • Publication Date: 01-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Independent Institute
  • Abstract: Generations of students have been taught that the emergence of Parliament and capitalism in England were caused by factors such as the rise of the bourgeoisie, the rediscovery of ancient Greek democracy and the Roman republic, the Magna Carta, the enclosure movement, the Protestant ethic of accumulation (which may not actually apply to England), and English common law. To these factors should be added: a population of extremely well-armed and trained commoners, reliance upon them by the monarchy for military service, and the willingness of the commoners to stage large-scale and ferocious rebellions. It was highly advisable to secure the consent of the commoners before taxing them. The power of the commoners limited what taxation could be imposed. Limited taxation allowed commoners to accumulate substantial sums of money, a crucial factor in the emergence of capitalism in England as early as the 1400s. The power of the commoners forced elites to accommodate the notion of government for the common good (commonweal), eroded the notion that the aristocrat was superior to the commoner, and strengthened the case for equality of opportunity. The history of England stands for the proposition that contemporary firearms laws should be the most permissive reasonably possible. The article also discusses the need to achieve social change without violence. But this is not possible with many regimes worldwide, and it is naive to think tyranny can’t happen here.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Political Theory, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Aaron Cosbey
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: While there has been a strong tendency in resource rich countries to push for more stringent local content regulations, the mining sector is looking to move towards increased automation. In this study titled “Mining a Mirage: Reassessing the Shared-Value Paradigm in Light of the Technological Advances in the Mining Sector,” CCSI, IISD and Engineers Without Borders researched the technological innovations that are being developed, assessing when these technologies could be rolled out, and quantifying the potential impacts automation may have on local employment and procurement and on the shared value paradigm. The objective was to better understand how governments could adapt local content, industrial and fiscal policies in order to better prepare for and embrace technological advances in the mining sector.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jan Schablitzki
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and Peace
  • Abstract: The Sixth BRICS Summit, held in July 2014 in Fortaleza, Brazil, resulted in agreements to establish a New Development Bank (NDB) as well as a Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). This Policy Brief discusses the impact of the NDB on the existing architecture of development finance, focusing on the bank’s potential contribution to the BRICS’ South-South cooperation. The first section outlines the BRICS countries’ rational for establishing the NDB. In the following section potential development paradigms that are likely to be adopted by the NDB are addressed. Since no decision has been taken on the bank’s future governance, this section will be based on the experiences from the BRICS’ national development banks. Once the NDB’s governance is agreed upon, it will impact whether and to what extent the new bank will cooperate with the existing international system of development finance. A third section discusses the NDB’s potential appeal for the Global South. The Global South shares with the BRICS a disappointment with the existing system, and connects specific hopes and expectations with the foundation of the NDB. Examining the Banks effect on South-South cooperation, the section includes prospects on the Bank’s capital potential and by that its potential contribution to the prevalent demand for infrastructure financing in developing countries. A final section summarises the points made and aims to put the present perceptions of the NDB in rather cautious perspectives.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Developing World
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jens Beckert, Jörg Rössel, Patrick Schenck
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Understanding the valuation of goods in markets has become one of the key topics in economic sociology in recent years. Especially in markets for goods that are valued for their aesthetic qualities, the ascription of value appears to be a complex social process because product quality is highly uncertain. The wine market is an extraordinary example because most consumers and even experts are not able to differentiate between wines based on objective sensory characteristics and cannot rank wines in blind tastings according to their price. Our premise is that assessed quality differences cannot be explained by the sensual qualities of the wine. Instead, we explain variations in valuation by social processes in which quality is constructed and contested. To do so we make use of Bourdieu’s field theoretical perspective, which is strongly supported in our empirical analysis of the German wine field. It shows that his model of the structure of fields has considerable power in explaining price differentiation between wineries and that the orientation of consumers towards different segments of the field is based on class hierarchy.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Food, Sociology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus