Newsletter SSW July 2018

Dear followers of Social Science Works!

We have been rather busy, and consequently we did not have much time to inform you about what was going on at SSW. With this newsletter we hope to catch up a bit. We like to inform you about our recent projects, about our fellows and interns, and, related to this, our search for funding for a platform for deliberation. Last but not least, we give some information about the ever growing readership of the posts on our website, on our Facebook-page and on Twitter.

Recent Projects

In 2017-18 we have implemented three projects: Deliberation in Brandenburg, Deliberation against Populism, and a training (Multiplikatorenschulung) for volunteers working in the field of integration. On overview can be found here.

In Deliberation against Populism we organized two deliberative events with German radicalizing citizens that on the internet had shown sympathy for right wing populist standpoints. 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 discourse. We reported on the project in German and English.

For the project Deliberation in Brandenburg we organized 12 rows of workshops, each with six sessions, in which we have discussed with different groups of refugees and locals the ideas, perspectives and values, ​​that are generally seen as constructive for European culture and identity. Also on this project we reported in German and English. In the near future we will post many more articles on our experiences.

As in 2016, in 2017 we organized series of workshops for volunteers and social workers involved in integration work. This time we were active in Brandenburg, Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia. In these workshops, we illustrated the ideas and methods of deliberation and explained how constructive issues such as democracy, freedom, tolerance, identity, gender equality, or (homosexual) sexuality can be deliberatively discussed with citizens from other cultures. More information on these “Multiplikatorenschulungen” can be found here.

In a next newsletter we will inform you on the projects we currently develop and implement.

Social Science Works is Against Democratic Elections (Kidding)

Unfortunately, the implementation of new projects have been hampered a bit by the parliamentary elections in Germany in the Autumn of 2017. As we also know from the literature, half a year before elections, many policy makers usually stop making policies. This because they do not know how the new government will look like and they do not want to rule over their grave. The same inactivity reigns during coalition talks, that this time took much longer than usual in Germany. After the installment of a new government, still the budgets of the departments need to be decided on. In the meantime, civil society organizations are struggling. Only now, more than a year later, provisional decisions are slowly made on project applications and proposals. It is unclear how NGO’s that are not structurally funded, are able to survive elections in a democracy. Private foundations here seem to be indispensable.

New Fellows and Interns

In the last year we could again welcome a large number of new fellows and interns. Currently we have 35 fellows. Recently, among others, Abdulrahman Kadi, Begüm Selici, Daniel Meehan, Darine Atassi, Sylvia Joss and Alper Baysan joined us. Interns were Patrick Sullivan, Alexandra Johansen, Paul Börsting, Florentin Münstermann, Jeanne Lenders and Philipp Bautz. Their work and commitment have importantly contributed to the development of Social Science Works, and we are extremely grateful for that.

We are pleased to receive an ever increasing number of applications from people that are interested in an internship or want to volunteer in our projects. Many of these people are MA- and PhD students in social and political science, philosophy, anthropology, or cultural studies. They come from a wide variety of countries: Germany, Turkey, Denmark, USA, Italy, Russia, Greece, the Netherlands, England, Spain, Poland, Hungary, and Macedonia. The main motivations they mention in their application letters, are threefold:

First of all, they are deeply worried by the widespread discontent about democracies. Like us, they are interested in the development of new ways of meaningful citizen participation and in the advancement of new strategies to strengthen civic and political competences. They share our aims to further integration and civic participation, and to counter populism and radicalization. Especially our ideas and projects regarding deliberation attract them.

Secondly, they feel attracted to the general academic philosophy behind Social Science Works, and so do not only want to contribute to the solving of societal problems via theory-building, put also via practical, usable knowledge. They want to be involved in projects that aim to reduce pressing societal problems and that make use of available interdisciplinary insights from the social and political sciences.

And thirdly, they strongly believe in the European idea and the values that underlie this: democracy, pluralism, freedom, respect, tolerance, human rights, equal rights, cosmopolitanism.

Unfortunately, we cannot welcome all these extremely interesting and highly motivated young scholars at SSW: at the moment we do not have the means and the office space. Giving these scholars a platform, though, would further the development and exchange of our knowledge on civil society, democracy, political competence, and deliberation. Therefore, we are searching for funding for a “European Platform for Deliberation”. Any suggestions? Please, contact us. We want to offer the interns an education in the theories of deliberation and we want to share the experiences and knowledge we have built up with our deliberative projects in Germany. On top of that we want to involve the interns in ongoing projects and develop new projects together with them.

Publishing and outreach: website, Facebook and twitter

Research forms an important part of our activities. We publish about this on our website via quality blogs and articles. Everything that we publish has been peer-reviewed by at least two other scholars. Also many of our fellows have been very supportive here – for which we thank them again.

In total, the website had almost 27.000 visitors in the last 12 months and more than 92.000 visits.  An average visitor looks at about three pages.

Until now, we have published 52 blogs, and about a dozen longer articles and reports. The most popular blog we posted so far has been “The Social dilemma of Berlin’s Booming Tourism Industry” by Asaf Leshem (1467 views). Other popular blogs have been “What to do against clientelism, nepotism & corruption?” by Sergiu Buscaneanu (469 views); “The wave: the rise of European Far-right populism” by Patrick Sullivan (311 views); “Are there too many PhD’s?” by Hans Blokland (255 views); “Keeping social science relevant: society needs clear prose” by Christian Kipp (245 views); “Recruiting men to civil society projects: trials and tribulations from the front line” by Sarah Coughlan (185 views); and  “Deliberation against populism: reconnecting radicalizing citizens in East Germany and elsewhere by Hans Blokland (181 views).

The number of views of a regular blog or article published on our website is about 200. Knowing that the average readership of an article in an academic journal is 2 (two), this is an enormous success. Apparently, we manage to publish articles that are meant to be read, and not just by a small inner circle.

Most of our readers are living in Germany (about 50%). Second is the USA (10%). The United Kingdom (5%), the Netherlands (3%) and France (2%) follow. We are also happy with our readers in, among many other countries, Russia, Japan, Spain, Greece, the Philippines, Italy, Brazil, South Africa, Colombia, South Korea, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Pakistan, Iraq, Argentina, Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia.

Many people get on our website via the Facebook page of SSW.  On Facebook we currently have 856 followers. Posts on Facebook reach on average about 400 people, depending on the number of shares and likes. The number of engagement (all post clicks, comments, likes and shares) differs. A recent post on a new blog of our intern Jeanne Lenders (The crisis of

masculinity), for instance, had an engagement of 97, which is high. A post on our workshop with refugees in the town of Jüterbog had 69 engagements. The intriguing picture that accompanied this post must have contributed to this number.

Most of our fans on Facebook live in Germany (385), the USA (70), UK (69), India (27) and Pakistan (20). But also people in, among others, Belgium (15), France (14), Spain (8), Poland (8), Turkey (8), Nigeria (7), Chili (5), Sierra Leone (3) and Israel (2) like us. 50% of our fans are female, 47% are male. Of the people that gave information on their age (about 50% of our fans), 60% are between 25 and 35 years old. About 12% is older than 45.

On Twitter, last but not least, we currently have 1688 followers. Predominantly, we tweet to bring new articles and projects to the attention of our audience. Our tweets are followed by institutions like Sociological Research Online, Sociology Journal, Policy Studies, European Policy Analysis, Urban Studies Foundation, Polis180, Das Progressive Zentrum, Correctiv, Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, International Social Science Council, London School of Economics, Citizens for Europe, Sage, Palgrave, the Independent Social Research Foundation (ISRF), the Council for European Studies (CES), and The International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA).

So far for now. In case you have any questions or suggestions, do not hesitate to contact us!

Potsdam, July 2, 2018

Hans Blokland