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Presentations by 1st year PhD students in the Political Theory, Political Economy and Comparative Politics tracks

Thursday, April 9, 2020, 1:30 pm

Probationary Doctoral candidates are required to present the topic of their dissertation in an online seminar of faculty and students. The Political Economy, Political Theory  and Comparative Politics track students of the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations are scheduled for a short presentation at a regular departmental seminar as below. 

13:30 – 13:50: Renato de Gaspi (Political Economy track): The Political Aspects of Industrial Policy: coalitions and power struggle in Latin American economies
The literature on industrial policy and developmental states is usually focused on institutional setups and how those affect the pursuit of different types of policies adopted by low or middle-income economies to catch-up with their more developed counterparts. Without discounting the role of institutions, the forthcoming dissertation will aim at taking a step back and analysing the why of certain institutional setups, especially in countries that were less studied by the literature.

Coming from the idea that institutions are fruit of historical specific social-political compromises (see Amable 2016), this work will propose a coalitional framework to understand different forms of industrial policy pursued by Latin American nations throughout their recent history. Despite significant economic similarities and quite lacklustre results, these nations pursued different paths. The main idea of the future dissertation is to learn how this happened, paying particular attention to the role of organized societal groups representing different interests (business and labour federations, financial and agricultural lobbies, and so on).

The dissertation will be organized mostly around a qualitative comparative process-tracing method, aiming at looking at the contrasts between nations that have somewhat flown under the radar of the development literature. In addition, more “successful” cases will occasionally serve as reference points for our in-depth case studies. Hopefully, this thesis will show the political side of the Latin American middle-income trap (see Doner & Schneider 2016), and how different political arrangements deeply influence the conduction of industrial policy

13:50 - 14:10: Giancarlo Grignaschi (Political Economy track): The political economy of accounting standards
Why did different European political economies embark on the joint endeavour to harmonize accounting standards as late as 1999 – thirteen years after the Single European Act? By the time in which the European Commission delegated the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to issue mandatory standards for the then-twelve member states, the political economic scenario featured considerable differences among European countries’ institutional settings. Such differences, according to Varieties of Capitalism (VoC), consist of peculiar institutional complementarities – especially in the corporate governance sphere – which allow firms to exploit certain comparative advantages. As a consequence, firms should rationally oppose the injection of incompatible alien practices – such harmonised accounting standards. As Regulation Theory shows, however, a growth model is supported by various actors – not exclusively firms – which cooperate with each other in order to regulate social conflict. I argue that International Accounting Standards (IAS) adoption within the EU has to be analysed as a specific case of conflict occurring on multiple, intertwined dimensions, namely the nation-state, the EU and the transnational level at which the IASB operates. My aim is that of unravelling the political struggle that led to the adoption of IAS at a specific point in time – provided that a) harmonization is, by definition, the opposite of the variety which arguably characterized the European political-economic scene and that b) “ a single market for financial services has been under construction since 1973” (European Commission 1999) but accounting standards were adopted only in 2002.

14:10 - 14:30: Renan Da Cunha Cavalcanti Silva (Political Theory track): A Theory of Feasibility
My thesis investigates what it is for something to be feasible. More specifically, it seeks to elucidate the question of what it is for a highly complex group of individuals, such as states, transnational corporations, universities and trade unions to be able to achieve a certain outcome. My focus will be on the theoretical foundations of questions such as ‘can Brazil drastically reduce poverty?’, ‘can the UK enact an open borders policy?’ and ‘could Germany have won the Second World War?’ I will attempt to provide a theory of feasibility by drawing, primarily, upon the philosophical literature on collective agency and human abilities.

14:30 - 14:50: Zdravko Veljanov (Comparative Politics track): The Emergence of Western Balkans Stabilitocracies: Unintended Consequences of the EU’s Conditionality and Accession
Following the Thessaloniki EU-Western Balkans Summit in 2003, the European Union acknowledged that the place of the region’s countries is within the European Union as fully-fledged member states. Since the 2000 Zagreb Summit, the WB countries made significant progress towards stability, democracy and economic recovery. Almost two decades later, it seems that the WB countries have not progressed more than in 2003. The countries experienced periods of democratization and what appeared consolidation in the 2000s, before backsliding to competitive authoritarian regimes with severe cases of state capture, restrictions of media freedom, selective application of justice and deterioration of civil liberties.

The proposed research aims to investigate why despite the advancement of the accession process, close ties with neighbouring EU countries and extensive western linkages, WB countries saw re-emergence of competitive authoritarianism? What explains the variation between countries and over time? To do so, it builds on recent efforts to conceptualize the democratic backsliding of the region and return to competitive authoritarianism with its regional variation - stabilitocracy. By building on the stabilitocracy framework the research introduces another possible mechanism through which the European Union has (unintentionally) assisted in consolidating the non-democratic practices exercised by local stabilitocrats.

14:50 - 15:10: Mehmet Yavuz (Comparative Politics track): New Autocracies, old strategies? Role of ideological legitimation in electoral authoritarian regimes
The literature on neo authoritarianism establishes that modern autocracies can not survive with cooptation and repression alone, but they also engage in legitimation to stabilize their rule (Gerschewski 2013). Relying on Easton's (1965) framework, the recent scholarship differentiates between input and output specific legitimation strategies, on the one hand, identity-related diffuse legitimation strategies, on the other hand. It has been argued that electoral authoritarian regimes exclusively rely on input-output oriented, specific legitimation strategies, as these regimes lack the necessary hierarchial structure for ideological indoctrination. However, long-lasting electoral authoritarian regimes like Venezuela, Bangladesh, and Turkey vastly rely on ideational elements to legitimize their rule. The proposed research takes issue with these deviations and attempts to understand why do some electoral authoritarian regimes rely on ideological legitimation more than others?

To fill the ideational gap in legitimation literature this research: (1) Proposes a rational choice institutionalist framework, and suggest that authoritarian incumbents capitalize on existing cross-cutting ideological cleavages (2) Suggest to go beyond regime type based static explanations and aims to look at further institutional factors such as exogenously driven change (3) argues that existing studies have undermined the role of thin ideologies like nationalism and populism in the study of ideological legitimation, which leads to wrong conclusions. To be able to analyze the puzzle comprehensively, the research will combine different levels of analysis, including a large-n cross-case comparison of country cases (2010-2020), an in-depth longitudinal case study of change of legitimation strategies in Turkey under Erdogan, and citizen's legitimacy belief in the Turkish case. Overall, the research aims to be an introduction to the role of ideology in authoritarian persistence.

Join the seminar in Teams via this link