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Research at the Department of Political Science

Research at the Department of Political Science is characterized by an empirical-analytical approach. It uses quantitative methods for data analysis and covers a broad range of topics.

Important fields of research:

  • Elections and party competition in established democracies, but also processes of democratization and political decision-making in other forms of government
  • European integration process
  • National conflicts and civil wars
  • Drivers and consequences of reform processes

Research at the chairs of Political Sociology and Political Psychology acts as a bridge between political science on the one hand and sociology and psychology on the other, which are closely related fields.

Research projects

Research in the subject area of political science is usually not conducted at the chairs themselves, but at other institutions, either at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES) or the Collaborative Research Center 884 “Political Economy of Reforms”.

  • Research at the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES)

    Most research projects related to political science are carried out at the MZES.

    At its Department B “European Political Systems and Their Integration”, researchers deal with the following research questions:

    1. Conditions of democratic governance in terms of the behavior and orientations of citizens and
    2. institutional contexts of democratic governance.

    To answer research question number one, they use both established panel studies like the “German Longitudinal Election Study” (GLES) and studies on political participation or on the role social media play in forming a political judgment.

    In addition, they study parties, election systems, and the role of the Federal Constitutional Court. Researchers also focus on governance in a multi-level system and on Europeanization with a special emphasis on the relationship between the national and European level. Of additional interest are political structures below the national level, i.e. country-specific regional structures, and the European Union’s role at the international level.

    Go to the MZES’s website

  • Research at the Collaborative Research Center 884 “Political Economy of Reforms” (CRC 884)

    Several professors at the Department of Political Science and their teams make significant contributions to the Collaborative Research Center 884, “Political Economy of Reforms”, which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

    Generally speaking, the CRC 884 aims at analyzing the causes and effects of successful and failed reforms by means of quantitative methods. To achieve this, economists, political scientists, sociologists, and computer scientists work hand in hand to find out whether theoretical models of reforms prove valid when empirically tested.

    The Collaborative Research Center has passed through three phases. During phase one, most projects developed theoretical concepts modeling different reforms in Germany. During phase two, the focus was on empirical analysis of reforms in European welfare states whereas now, during phase three, it has shifted towards pursuing three long-term goals.

    1. Longitudinal studies increasingly analyze the development of individual and collective preferences and decisions related to reforms. In addition, successful and less successful reforms are meant to be assessed.
    2. Important insights into reform processes and the behavior of actors in developing countries in Africa or Asia are to be gained.
    3. Findings from phase one, two, and three are intended to be used to make practical reform proposals.

    Go to the CRC 884’s website