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Newsletter February 2011

Dear members of the ECPR’s Standing Group on Public Opinion and Voting Behaviour in a Comparative Perspective,

Please find news from us below:

1. Patrick Fournier’s summer school course on Political Psychology: Citizen Behaviors and Opinions

As we informed you about in the 2010 November newsletter, we have got financial support from
The Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship at the McGill University, Montréal, Quebec, Canada

and the Training Network in Electoral Democracy (ELECDEM).

to arrange a summer school course at the Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies.

Patrick Fournier from the University of Montréal will teach a course on Political Psychology: Citizen Behaviors and Opinions.

We request that you encourage your PhD students to participate on the course. The link with the necessary information about how to apply and about the content of the course can be found here:

The summer school also contains several other courses which might be interesting for your PhD students.

2. Support for workshop applications for the 2012 Joint Session of Workshop in Antwerp

The steering committee has decided to support three workshop proposals for the 2012 Joint Session of Workshop in Antwerp. The support is indicated to ECPR.

The supported proposals with titles, workshop directors and abstracts are outlined below in alphabetical order below according to the first letter in the title of the workshop proposal.

Title: Innovations in the Study of Campaigns and their Effects
Workshop directors:
Thorsten Faas, University of Mannheim
Hajo Boomgaarden, University of Amsterdam

Campaigns and their effects receive increasing attention in research on electoral behaviour. As a consequence of partisan dealignment and increasing mediatisation, campaigns are argued to become increasingly important for dynamics of political attitudes and behaviour at election times. The dynamic nature of campaigns and campaign effects can only be studied relying on innovative and dynamic research designs. This applies both to the measurement of information sources during the campaign and their utilization by voters and to capturing information effects on attitudes and behaviour. Advances in these regards include the integration of media content analyses into election studies, or the application of dynamic survey data collection in rolling-cross sections or multi-panel surveys. Moreover, experimental studies yield information about information processing and effects. Also comparative approaches and the recognition of (the interplay between) micro and macro level factors are on the agenda. This workshop is a platform to present innovative designs in the field of campaign (effects) studies, potentially attracting scholars from the areas of electoral behaviour, political psychology and political communication.

Title: Long-lasting orientations vs. spur-of-the-moment reactions: the role of norms and emotions in political behavior
Workshop directors:
Hanna Wass, University of Helsinki
Delia Dumitrescu, Université de Montréal

Norms have substantial role in political behavior in providing solid and stable groundings for action. The overall sense of duty to vote has one of the most robust influences on citizen's tendency to participate in elections. In addition, voting and other forms of political engagement are often regarded as ideal citizen qualities. At the same time, emotions have a strong impact on political behavior as well. In contrast to the stability of norms, emotional reactions to politics often arise on the spur of the moment. Emotions can have complex effect: while emotional feelings often motivate citizens to become more informed, they can also impede on their willingness to make certain political decisions. Examining interactions of norms and emotions would be most fruitful, as citizens have to simultaneously deal in their political decisions with both endorsement of prevailing norms and emotions. Their decision to act based on the long-lasting norms or more sporadic feelings informs us of the overall importance of both these aspects and their mutual relationship. This workshop proposes to address several questions related to role of norms and emotions in political action. Which norms and which emotions influence political behavior? How do each of them (and jointly) influence political participation and preferences? Which is more important when norms and emotions are in conflict?

Title: Policy Feedback, Political Behaviour, and Democratic Citizenship in European Welfare States

Workshop directors:
Staffan Kumlin, University of Gothenburg, Sweden and Institute for Social Research, Oslo, Norway
Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen, University of Konstanz, Germany and University of Berne, Switzerland

In democracies, citizens’ attitudes and behaviour should influence future public policies. But the reverse may be just as true: attitudes and behaviour are also results of previous policies. This idea of policy feedback can be traced through the history of political science. But it has been slow to reach the mainstream of empirical political behaviour research. In the last decade, however, feedback hypotheses have increasingly been tested in studies on political trust, participation, social policy attitudes, social capital, and civil society participation. Collectively they suggest that political behaviour and democratic citizenship not only function as exogenous democratic input but are (re)shaped by policies. Many studies concern the welfare and social policy domain. In Europe, this is because many countries experience difficulties in delivering on previous commitments to public services and income replacement systems. Similarly, labour market policies and incentive structures are changing. Thus, a broad ambition for the workshop is examining how the restructuring of European welfare states affect political behaviour and democratic citizenship. In doing this, we aim at general scientific progress along several lines. We invite studies conceiving of feedback effects (also) in an interactive and disaggregated manner, with different groups and individuals affected differently by the same policies, and with different individuals being exposed to different parts of the same “welfare regime.” Further, we want to identify generic mechanisms of feedback relevant for a whole range of specific dependent variables. This will have an integrating function and allow a parsimonious understanding of policy feedback. Methodologically, we need studies that take seriously the reciprocal causal relationship between policy and individual behaviour/attitudes.

3. Paper applications to the panels for the Reykjavik General Conference

The deadline for panel proposals for the Reykjavik General Conference was February 1. The panels of the two accepted sections which the steering group supported have got many panel applications.

The sections are:

Sections chairs: Oddbjørn Knutsen and Marina Costa Lobo

Old and New Models in Electoral Research. Comparative Perspectives.


Sections chairs: Oliver Treib, Catherine de Vries and Andreas Wimmel

Mass Politics in the EU: Public Opinion, Elections, and Referendums.

The panel chair(s) can only accept 4 or 5 papers and further 2 tabled papers for each panel. Since there are more applications for many of the panels, the panel chairs have to make many hard choices in this respect. The decision on the final allocation of papers will be made by the ECPR Academic Convenors by 1 April 2011 at the very latest.

4. News submitted by members of the Standing Group

POVB-ECPR News is sent to the members of the ECPR’s Standing Group on Public Opinion and Voting Behaviour in a Comparative Perspective about every second month. Each issue contains a section with news submitted by members of the standing group. If you have a call, initiative or job vacancy that you would like to be included in POVB-ECPR News, you should login to your POVB-ECPR account and submit it as a new forum topic.

Best wishes
Marina and Oddbjørn