Our Blog


Deliberation Against Populism: Reconnecting Radicalizing Citizens In East Germany & Elsewhere

In the deliberative project “Deliberation against Populism” we organized two events with citizens from Brandenburg, Germany, to discuss the problems that trouble them.[1] The prime goal of the project was to find new ways to get into contact with citizens that see themselves as political alienated or unrepresented, and to reengage them in the democratic […]

Berlin’s Evolving Relationships With Its Memorials

What is the purpose of these memorials? And who are they for? What is Berlin’s evolving relationship between commemoration and tourism? Riddled with important historical events and countless memorial sites to commemorate them, Berlin now faces a challenging double role of being a place of remembrance and a successful urban destination. These challenges change over time, […]

Brexit Heartbreak & The Democratic Deficit

The UK’s decision to exit the EU left our generation feeling bleak and worried about the direct impact Brexit will have on our future. Around 75 percent of the 18- to 24-year-old voted remain. On the other side of the channel, young think tanks like Polis180 and Social Science Works work fervidly to make our […]

Shy Tories & Virtue Signalling: How Labour Surged Online

The calm after the storm has settled in London. The UK has had its third national election in as many years after Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election to shore up her party’s position ahead of the upcoming Brexit negotiations. Following a series of polls showing May enjoying a 20-point lead over Jeremy […]

How to deliberate fundamental values? Notes from Brandenburg on our approach and experiences.

By Hans Blokland   People hardly ever change their mind. The more they feel forced to justify themselves, the more they feel questioned, criticized, disrespected, and the smaller the chance that they will open their mind to other positions. This certainly is the case when values are involved: more than anything else, values – ideas […]

Taking people seriously: a new approach for countering populism and furthering integration

by Hans Blokland In our deliberative democracy and integration projects[i] we treat our participants – natives as well as migrants – as citizens, able and willing to discuss in a rational way the big themes like democracy, freedom, tolerance or emancipation. We assume that rational deliberations on these topics are possible, provided that the social […]

The Center Does Not Hold: The Supply & Demand of the New Right’s Success

The year 2016 experienced unheard of electoral turbulence. While many thought that Brexit would mark the political event to be remembered for a generation, ‘The Donald’ put paid to that. These processes have tempted some commentators to ask whether we are witnessing the end of the West as we know it. As the presidential election […]

Progressive Neoliberalism & the Pull of Populism

In the wake of the turbulent US election, social theorist Nancy Fraser wrote that the progressive neoliberal politics of the establishment served as a major factor in ensuring the success of Donald Trump in ascending to the presidency. In her article, ‘The End of Progressive Neoliberalism,’(1) Fraser described the way that politicians like Hillary Clinton, and […]

What We Can & Can’t Measure in a Brexit Deal

We are delighted to launch our first Second Opinion report! Written with the support of Expat Citizens’ Rights in the EU (ECREU), our paper What We Can & Can’t Measure in a Brexit Deal aims to give a second opinion to the report released by a group of UK-based scholars at UK in a Changing Europe […]

The Limits Of Survey Data: What Questionnaires Can’t Tell Us

All research methodologies have their limitations, as many authors have pointed before (see for example Visser, Krosnick and Lavrakas, 2000). From the generalisabilty of data to the nitty-gritty of bias and question wording, every method has its flaws. In fact, the in-fighting between methodological approaches is one of social science’s worst kept secrets: the hostility […]

Against Elections Review: Taking A Chance With Democracy

When “Against Elections: The Case for Democracy” by David Van Reybrouck first appeared its cover was a plain white, a slim volume of less than 180 pages promising a sober read despite its provocative title. Since its second edition, the cover has changed. It is now an alarming red, with Donald Trump’s face at the […]

The Wave: The Rise Of European Far-Right Populism

2016 was a banner year in atypical electoral outcomes. At the outset of the year, few would have predicted the results of the Brexit vote, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, and the massive vote share that the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) received in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany – garnering […]

Yolocaust, Austerlitz & Uploading Holocaust: Dark Tourism Goes Public

    To many travellers, the act of visiting a tourist site, where death, tragedy or atrocity are presented in some way is a familiar experience. Relatively new, however, is the increased popularity of experiencing dark tourism on screen. Just months apart from one another, we were introduced to Shahak Shapira’s Yolocaust – a website […]

New Neighbors – Here, But Not Yet At Home

The article here was published in German in Die Linke’s Lotta magazine: issue 12, January 10, 2017 and is available here. The original article was written by Sophie Freikamp and was translated by Sarah Coughlan. What is it like to live in a foreign country? What are the values, what is the culture there? What do I have […]

The Identity Politics Of Being A Foreign Body

Quickly after moving to Berlin I assumed the title of ‘expat.’ Being an American expat became part of my identity. For better or worse, it was something I was stuck with. For better, it established a profound connection with other wayward souls like me. For worse, it meant being singled out as somehow representing the […]

Recruiting Men To Civil Society Projects: Trials & Tribulations From The Front Line

  This year we have been working with the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung in Brandenburg to recruit German and German-speaking men to work with refugee men in Brandenburg in our buddy project. The idea of the project is familiar enough: local people pair up with newcomers for a tandem partnership that helps the newcomer adjust […]

Intellectual monocultures, black swans & the failure of economics: lessons from the global financial crisis and austerity

  One of the most pressing challenges to the global economy has been the global financial crisis of 2007 – 2009 which morphed into a prolonged recession and sovereign debt crises in many countries. Understanding this crisis, integrating it into academic thinking and acting on this knowledge – especially creating meaningful policy solutions, address the […]

Rural Regeneration by Connecting Bigger Social Solutions

    Complex social issues are often more easily resolved when they are connected up with other societal problems. Habitual approaches to thinking and problem solving, as well as the ways we have divided up our academic disciplines and our governmental departments often prevent problems being approached in this way. Demographic change, urbanization, urban sprawl, […]

The Refugee Crisis Exposes Our ‘Civil Rights’ As Privileges

  by Lily Cichanowicz The current shift in Europe’s demographic composition towards a more diverse populace comprised of non-whites and higher proportions of Arab people has left lasting impacts on the continent’s social and political climates. There is no doubt that the magnitude of these effects can be attributed in equal measure to our society’s […]

British-European regional tourism in the wake of Brexit: What could possibly go wrong?

For most people who have been watching the story of Brexit unfold, it’s been mostly about the political and economic implications. Moreover, the focus is on the impact Brexit will have on the British people. Concentrating on various aspects of tourism in the region, this blog entry will show how Brexit has more far-reaching effects […]

How The EU Referendum Campaign Poisoned The UK’s Political Discourse

The message on my phone said: “I’m so, so sorry”. That’s how I learnt that the UK had voted to leave the European Union. This is something I had feared from the moment the UK general election exit polls correctly predicted last year that the Conservatives would win an overall majority and hold a referendum […]

How NYE Turned German Political Debate Upside Down

At Social Science Works we seek to engage with contemporary political debate and offer solutions to its most pressing problems by applying social scientific thought. In this blog, co-founder Sarah Coughlan and Social Science Works associate Niklas Kossow explore the media fallout from the Cologne attacks. An earlier version of this article appeared in Berlin […]

Some Countries Are More Corrupt Than Others And We Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Say So

At Social Science Works we are interested in giving second opinions on research, to help enable policy makers make informed choices about policy and empower decision makers to make the best possible use of science research. In this blog, Social Science Works associate Niklas Kossow looks at corruption rankings and takes on the idea that, […]

The French “Crisis of Authority” Is A Crisis Of The Authorities

  by Bérengère Gouraud  In France, you lose count of how many times you’ve heard about the “crisis of authority”. It has become a central preoccupation, amongst and spread by, a wide range of influential people. First of all, politicians themselves claim it. To name famous one, the current Prime Minister Manuel Valls explicitly talked […]

The Social Dilemma Of Berlin’s Booming Tourism Industry

By Asaf Leshem As an urban tourism destination, Berlin developed rapidly since German reunification in October 1990. Its unique character, fascinating history, and low prices (compared to other over developed European urban destinations) made it attractive to many people from around the world. In a city suffering from a chronic financial deficit, and years of […]

How To Debate Values In A Diverse Europe

by Hans Blokland We need to talk. We need to talk about fundamental concepts like democracy, ethical and political pluralism, tolerance, equality and freedom, concepts that many consider as constitutive for the European identity. We need to talk with those Europeans that see the values concerned endangered by, often Islamic, refugees and immigrants. These natives […]

Debating Values & Identity With Newcomers & European Natives

By Hans Blokland In 2015, roughly 1,1 million refugees came to Germany. About 428,500 of these people are Syrians. Refugees from Iraq (13%) and Afghanistan (10%) form the second and third largest group. For 2016, the prospects are not much lower. As for numerous other Europeans, many Germans fear the “otherness” of the current refugees. […]

Ted Cruz, Global Warming, & The Need For Data Transparency In Politics

by Namwan Leavell Republican Senator and prospective presidential candidate Ted Cruz doesn’t believe in global warming. “Many of the alarmists on global warming, they’ve got a problem because the science doesn’t back them up,” Cruz said in an interview with Seth Meyers. “In particular, Satellite Data for the past 17 years.” Cruz has even gone […]

What To Do Against Clientelism, Nepotism & Corruption?

“Manus manum lavat” – One hand washes the other. One Facet Of The Vicious Exchange In The EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. Corruption kills. Sometimes it kills human lives, but most of the time it kills trust and hope. One may not find out how many lives vanished due to corruption in the EU’s Eastern neighbourhood, but […]

Do People Know What They Want? Social Scientific Responses

  by Hans Blokland Market and liberal democracy are both based on the assumption that individuals are the best possible referees of their personal interests. This makes sense because nobody knows us as long and as well as we know ourselves. It seems wise too since often in history individuals have been forced by leaders […]

Lessons From Political Science On Participation & Democratization

  By Hans Blokland It is often assumed in social and political science that citizens should participate more in political structures and processes aimed to bring about or to influence public decision making. The current strong interest in our disciplines in topics like citizenship, social capital or public deliberation indicates that we apparently believe that […]

Keeping Social Science Relevant: Society Needs Clear Prose

If somebody were to ask me what I do all day as a student of the social sciences, my answer would be plain: Most of the time, I work hard to decipher incomprehensible writing, and sometimes I produce some myself. After studying the subject for several years, I have now attained the precious ability to […]

For My Next Trick I Shall Eliminate Child Poverty

By Sarah Coughlan The intersection between social science and real life can often seem – even for those on the inside – vague, abstract and frankly unlikely a lot of the time. That is until a government starts to mess around with the way they measure a social phenomenon. That’s the kind of thing that […]

What Do Education Scholars Know?

  Some time ago Martin Spiewak stated in the German quality-weekly Die Zeit that an awful lot of undisputed knowledge existed about the best ways to educate children, but that policy makers hardly ever make use of this knowledge. Therefore, there is a need to erect an institution that would pile up this internationally acknowledged […]

Are There Too Many PhDs?

  By Hans Blokland In all OECD countries, but in particular in Germany, there seems to be an enormous overproduction of PhDs – in case one sees a PhD as the starting point of an academic career or as an important asset on the job market. Between 1998 and 2006 the number of students who […]

Academic Conferences Should Be Outlawed

  It’s conference season! Thousands and thousands of social scientists are flying around to visit conferences. The American Sociological Association gathers with more than 4000 participants in 600 sessions in Chicago. In 2014 the journey went to San Francisco and in 2013 to New York City. About 600 members of The European Political Science Association […]

Economists Looking For God

  By Hans Blokland A science is not called a discipline by coincidence: its students are actively and deliberately disciplined to think and behave in the specific ways that define a discipline. They are trained to observe reality in distinctive ways which, on the one hand, help them to focus, organize and interpret their observations, […]