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  • Author: Thomas Paster
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: What is the impact of business interest groups on the formulation of public social policies? This paper reviews the literature in political science, history, and sociology on this question. It identifies two strands: one analyzes the political power and influence of business, the other the preferences and interests of business. Since the 1990s, researchers have shifted their attention from questions of power to questions of preferences. While this shift has produced important insights into the sources of the policy preferences of business, it came with a neglect of issues of power. This paper takes a first step towards re-integrating a power-analytical perspective into the study of the role of business in welfare state politics. It shows how a focus on variation in business power can help to explain both why business interest groups accepted social protection during some periods in the past and why they have become increasingly assertive and averse to social policies since the 1970s.
  • Topic: Human Welfare, Politics, History, Sociology, Landpower, Business
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Wolfgang Streeck
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The rise of the consolidation state follows the displacement of the classical tax state, or Steuerstaat, by what I have called the debt state, a process that began in the 1980s in all rich capitalist democracies. Consolidation is the contemporary response to the “fiscal crisis of the state” envisaged as early as the late 1960s, when postwar growth had come to an end. Both the long-term increase in public debt and the current global attempts to bring it under control were intertwined with the “financialization” of advanced capitalism and its complex functions and dysfunctions. The ongoing shift towards a consolidation state involves a deep rebuilding of the political institutions of postwar democratic capitalism and its international order. This is the case in particular in Europe where consolidation coincides with an unprecedented increase in the scale of political rule under European Monetary Union and with the transformation of the latter into an asymmetric fiscal stabilization regime. The paper focuses on the developing structure of the new consolidation regime and its consequences for the relationship between capitalism and democracy.
  • Topic: Debt, Monetary Policy, Democracy, Capitalism, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • 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