PROSEPS WG1 meeting. Unitelma La Sapienza, Rome (Italy), 25 October 2017
Chair and vice-chair: Gabriella Ilonszki (Corvinus University) and Christophe Roux (University of Montpellier)
Local host: Nicolò Conti (Unitelma La Sapienza)
Participants: WG1 members Petr Vymětal (Czech Republic), Marcelo Camerlo(Portugal), Marcello Carammia(Malta), Gabriella Ilonzski (Hungary), Christophe Roux (France), Davor Boban(Croatia), DungisGudelis (Lithuania), Eva Marín Hlynsdóttir(Iceland), Ivan Stanojevic(Serbia), Simona Kukovic (Slovenia), Miguel Jerez Mir (Spain), Erkki Berndston (Finland), Vincezo Memoli (Italy). Others: ThibaudBoncourt (France), Giliberto Capano (SNS, ProSEPS chair, Italy), Isabelle Engeli (WG2 leader), Luca Verzichelli (WG3 leader), Irimina Matonyte (Lithuania). Marleens Brans (WG4 leader), not in capacity to attend, is connected through a Skype connection. Nicolo’ Conti, local host, attends too.
Not present: Darina Malova(Slovakia), excused.
After a word of welcome and a round of presentation, the aims of the meeting are reminded.
While the directory of European political scientists is being prepared, other working groups have worked on the questionnaire to be sent to European political scientists.
WG leaders propose to include a limited number of questions to be added in the current version of the questionnaire. The discussion of the proposed questions have concluded in the following results:
A general agreement evolved that the questionnaire include a question about the academic “self identification” of the respondent which can be best formed by proposing a list of disciplines from which scholars in the final section of the questionnaire can choose from (like political scientist, public policy analyist, philosopher, management studies person, economist, etc.). The discussion tackled some aspects of that final section, presented in a work-in-progress version, including the gender identification section.
A general agreement evolved that one or two questions should cover on the respondent’s dominant feature of his/her academic work in terms of ontology/epistemology (positivist, variable-oriented vs. interpretivism, case-oriented research)/methodology (quantitative/qualitative) /territorial coverage (national/international-comparative).
At the same it has been raised that these questions should be carefully formulated as some of the categories are not as clear-cut as they may seem (e.g. comparative vs. national, as national cases are frequently integrated into a broader framework). It has also been raised that these above questions might serve the general evaluation of the state of the discipline in the countries – and these can be done with the help of expert interviews. Expert surveys (just a few per country) might also provide opportunities for comparison: how experts perceive their countries’ performance in these regards and how does this relate to the respondents’ “self-perception”. Who could be the ideal “experts” to be interviewed remains inconclusive and decisions should be made on this aspect at the next core group meeting.
Career patterns and institutionalization
Studying career patterns seem to exceed the scope of WG1. Institutionalization is much more at stake.
After reminding elements of discussion that started in WG1’s Malta meeting in January 2017 and with no privileged definition at hand, an inductive approach to the institutionalization process led WG1 members to shed light on a two-fold dynamics. On the one hand, an identity component seems to be important. This would involve aspects that show how political science has acquired its identity as an independent discipline. It seems clear for comparability a careful selection of indicators has to be pursued. On the other hand, a resource component is present as the institutionalisation of the discipline depends on the resources while at the same time it creates resources to stabilise and develop its own existence. Some examples have been mentioned like the presence of national journals, including a flagship journal linked to the national political science association (different aspects per journal: number of issues, circulation, changes in the past two decades, number of authors with the distribution of frequency (this can be connected to the performance of national academic communities); the power and resources of national associations; the resources coming from national foundations (research resources as compared to the entire national research budge, or number of research applications to the national science foundations as compared to other disciplines); budget and mobility and publication resources (translation cost, particular supports); libraries, public foundation supports and teaching structures.
As a third aspect it has been emphasized that while the institutionalization process has been tackled at least partly in previous scholarship in national or comparative studies run at the European level, a potentially innovative contribution could be given with a focus on the des-institutionalization process under the pressure of a) legal reforms, b) financial cuts and c) political pressure, the latter being seemingly a feature more characteristic of contemporary Central and Eastern Europe.
This raises a lot of discussion. While in line with the previous collective contribution in Malta, there is no clear conceptual development on the notion of institutionalization (nor des-institutionalization) based on previous scholarship. The dimension of identity and resource in institutionalization might be ill-conceived when related to the dynamics of a discipline. The time frame taken in consideration is not clearly identified.
As for the next step to develop a theory driven and comparatively relevant institutionalisation framework former scholarship has tobe more systematically included. In addition to the “classic’ political science country based comparative books (discussed in Malta) the INTERCO-SHS projectdeserves attention as they have put forward a handbook of indicators for the institutionalization of social science disciplines. Nevertheless as that project had a different scope: was more all-encompassing in terms of discipline, which implies that its categories may not equally well-suited for the study of political science, and much more restrictive in terms of territorial coverage, all this leaves us a lot of space to offer new stocks of knowledge thanks to the expertise of WG1.
Possibly the institutionalisation framework can contain a set of 3 categories: organization (dealing with particular institutions such as universities, faculties, departments, research centres and so on), teaching (e.g. BA, MA, PhD programs) and research outputs (journals, publishing houses and so on).
To conclude some organisational matters were discussed:
PROSEPS WG3 and WG4 meeting. Ku Leuven, Faculty Of Social Sciences, Leuven (Belgium), 22 September 2017
Chair and vice-chair WG3-WG4: Luca Verzichelli (University of Siena) and José Real-Dato (University of Almeria) – Marleen Brans (KU Leuven) and Arco Timmermans (University of Almeria)
Local host: Marleen Brans (KU Leuven)
Participants: Ioannis Andreadis (Greece), Olafur Hardarson (Iceland), Brid Quinn (Ireland), Luca Verzichelli – Giliberto Capano (SNS, ProSEPS chair) – Giulia Vicentini – Andrea Pritoni (Italy), Janis Ikstens (Latvia), Slaven Zivcovic (Montenegro), Raphael Kies (Luxembourg), Anna Sroka – Agnieszka Turska-Kawa (Poland), Toma Burean (Romania), Olga Malinova (Russia), Nemanja Dzuverovic (Serbia), José Real-Dato (Spain), Matthew Flinders (United Kingdom)
Plenary – Introduction
The leaders of WG3 and WG4 presented the results of the previous meeting in Malta (January 2017). After this, there was a general discussion about the main topics WG3 and WG4 should deal with, particularly the issue of translation (i.e. there were some interventions on this issue by Brid Quinn, Olga Malinova and Ioannis Andreadis).
WG 3 meeting (questionnaire)
The group mostly discussed the questions included in the section of the questionnaire devoted to the public relevance of political science. Along with the examination of these questions, there was some discussion about the general design of the questionnaire.There was a general agreement on skipping open questions. Concerning the translation issue, the WG agreed that national experts would decide whether the questionnaire should be translated into the national language or be directly implemented in English.
The list below includes which countries opted for which alternative.
In any case, translations of the questionnaire into national languages should be ready by the end of 2017.
There was also discussion about the implementation of the survey. It was decided to adopt an ‘asymmetric decentralization’ perspective. The survey will be coordinated from Siena, where the English questionnaire will be implemented. For those countries where the questionnaire needs translation, national teams will be in charge of the implementation if they are capable of doing so. In case national teams cannot take care, Siena will. For the moment, Greece and Spain will take care of their own surveys.
Concerning the possibility of running a pilot survey to test the questionnaire, it was agreed that this should be the case.
Also, with respect to the final structure of the questionnaire, this should still be decided when the different sections will be finally assembled.
Finally, WG3 discussed a possible implementation schedule. In principle, these are the relevant milestones:
Joint meeting WG3 and WG4
This session was devoted mainly to discuss WG4 modifications in their part of the questionnaire. There was some concern about the number of questions, and about the high proportion of multiresponse questions included by WG4 in their part of the questionnaire. The discussion followed up online between the leaders of WG3 and WG4 during the next week, but the final version of the WG4 questionnaire still has to be decided.