News from Project A01

Michael Lischka
Michael Lischka
Michael Lischka talks about geography glasses and his role in project A01.

What would you have become if you hadn't become a scientist/geographer?

Originally was studying social work. But my studies had a strong focus on Germany, whic did not fit well with my curiosity and love for travelling. A friend of mine said to me: "I'm studying geography, it should suit you, too." As a result, I started to study geography in parallel to social work to see if I like it. Long story short: If I hadn't turned to science, I would be a social worker today. But geography just grabbed me, I couldn't get out. If you want to understand the world and like a change of perspective, there is nothing better than geography.

What is it about geography that appeals to you so much?

Geography opens up many perspectives on different levels of scale and on different complex topics. The range of geography is huge: cultural geography, economic geography, social geography, physical geography and so on. It's all connected. As a geographer, I can put on different glasses, depending on the topic and scale level I want to think on. Of course, the choice of frame and lens is not random, but well considered. Economic geography suits me and ma eyesight best , I would say. During my Masters I studied rural areas in the context of globalisation: These included, for example, smallholder structures in developing countries and how they are influenced by the global market and vice versa, what risks and opportunities arise as a result, including the driving forces of globalisation, the distribution of power in economic interdependence patterns and much more. Generally speaking: To generate knowledge on many levels, which also points out consequences and effects - for me this is the epitome of geography.

And what is your role within the CRC?

I work very closely with Ivo Mossig on project A01. We investigate intergovernmental interdependence at various levels. We are focused initially on economic interdependence: Who is connected with one another in which supranational organisation? What free trade agreements do exist? We want to measure and present these macroeconomic structures and some other economic parameters in the best possible way. At the same time, together with computer scientists we develop analysis methods to be able to gain insights from it. Current economic geographic globalisation research is very much focused on processes rather than outcomes.

What exactly do you do at the moment?

I am currently doing a network analysis with all the countries of the world and analyse how they are connected to each other through trade. The first result is a great network: some states are in the centre, others in the periphery. But what does it mean that China, the US and Germany are close to the centre, and that Russia has left the centre a few years ago? Or that the BRIC(S) states are pushing closer to the core, whereas established states are changing their position? Our core task is to understand the dynamics of these and other economic interdependencies and to work out their significance in different contexts. In this way, we provide input for the other projects that investigate the dynamics of social policy. For many other projects, economic interdependence is the variable X - and we in project A01 are investigating variable X of this variable X.


Michael Lischka at a glance:
Michael Lischka is a research fellow in project A01 and is working on his PhD within the research group Economic and Social Geography at the Institute of Geography at the University of Bremen. Lischka is involved in the development of the Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS) in project A01, which is led by Andreas Breiter, Ivo Mossig and Carina Schmitt.
Lischka studied geography at the University of Vechta and graduated with a master's degree in "Geographies of Rural Areas - Change through Globalisation". He is working on his PhD thesis within the CRC.

 


Contact:
Michael Lischka
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
E-Mail: lischka@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Nils Düpont
Dr. Nils Düpont
Nils Düpont talks about his fascination with political science, preferences of autocrats and his role in project A01.


What would you have become if you hadn't become a political scientist?

I don't know if I wanted to be anything else. I developed an interest in politics at high school - inspired by two good teachers - and as a consequence I studied political science. It soon became clear that it wanted to continue following this path after the Master's degree. When I look back from today's perspective, I sometimes think: Maybe I could have done something completely different; something manual, perhaps becoming an instrument maker. It's nice that my job is intellectually challenging. But every now and then, all my day's work consists of programming five lines. This was a huge step forward in my work, but if I told that other people ... In this sense, a craft in which you produce something tangible would have been something for me. But the question never occurred.

Studying political science after school is one thing; but what made this subject so fascinating to you that you made it your profession?

Political science requires a very special way of thinking, which suits me well. In addition, the environment at university was very favourable. After I wrote a seminar paper I was asked if I wanted to start working for the professor. This fueled my interest in data and empirical-analytical political science. I started redading a lot about this field, and in the course of time your way of thinking gets shaped by what you read. All these aspects fed my career aspirations. Today I would say: I am interested in politics, but my way of thinking is that of a political science.

What strikes me about political and social sciences in general: Despite the immense differences between people, there are similarities and behavioural patterns. This makes people much more similar than they want to believe. Discovering these patterns always fascinated me: explaining human behaviour through via a handful of instructions or variables. Obviously human behaviour is not determined by this, but nevertheless it is shaped to some extent. You can explain a lot.

What are your responsibilities within the CRC?

I am currently in the process of defining my exact role myself to some extent. However, my work addresses the complex issues of national actors in social policy. Social policy obviously is embedded in international interdependencies, but in the end it is still national actors who make decisions. In parliamentary systems these actors are governments formed by parties, in autocracies or dictatorships it is simply autocrats or dictators. The question is: How strongly are the actions of these actors influenced by global contexts? I see my role in the CRC in measuring the world' s ideologies. Up to now, the ususal research focus has been on highly developed industrialised countries. Determining the political preferences of governments via political parties is relatively straightforward. I would like to develop procedures to determine the political preferences of actors in other political regimes, such as autocracies and dictatorships. I hope to get input from the computer scientists in the project: so that I can evaluate texts via machine learning according to certain categories that we already know from the industrialised countries. I would then like to check whether we can transfer the categories to autocracies and dictatorships, or whether we have to think in completely new categories.

Could you give an example?

The political actors of the western world can be located on a large left-right axis - ignoring the debate about how substantial this axis still is. But does this also work for other regions of the world? Perhaps this works to some extent for South America, but in Asia the question is whether we have to completely rethink ideological conflict issues. My role will be to work this out and in turn to provide input to the other projects within the A Department. Our colleagues are seeking to explain social policy decisions, and national actors play a decisive role in this.

 

Dr. Nils Düpont at a glance:
Dr. Nils Düpont is a research fellow at the CRC 1342 "Global Dynamics of Social Policy". In project A01, coordinated by Andreas Breiter, Ivo Mossig and Carina Schmitt, Nils Düpont is involved in the development of the Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS).

Nils Düpont studied political science, media studies and Scandinavian studies at the University of Greifswald, graduating with a Master of Arts degree. He then received his doctorate in political science for his thesis on "(Ir)Rational Choices? The Impact of Learning on Party Policy Moves".

Before joining the CRC 1342, Nils Düpont worked at the Institute of Political Science at the University of Bremen to establish a Master's Centre.


Contact:
Dr. Nils Düpont
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57060
E-Mail: duepont@uni-bremen.de