Project

POLITSOLID - The Ties that Bind: Experimental Analyses of Political Solidarities in Modern European Democracies

Goal: This ERC Consolidator Grant project POLITSOLID investigates the micro-foundations of political solidarities in fast-changing European polities. It analyses why some ordinary citizens show a high overall willingness to shoulder costs of public redistribution to other people in a polity, while others do not; and why ordinary citizens have multiple levels of willingness to shoulder costs depending on who receives the benefit.
Relevance: Having high levels of political solidarities is important for modern democracies to deal with exogenous shocks and long-term structural changes in their societies, which create pressures on the political system. Recent exogenous shocks in Europe that brought the necessity of political solidarities to light were the financial crisis (2007/8) with its extensive transnational bail-out policies across the European Union and the large refugee intake (2015/16). Relevant long-term structural changes are population ageing, rising income inequality and mass immigration.

POLITSOLID answers the overarching research question: What drives political solidarities in modern European democracies?
Objectives
• To create a novel theoretical and empirical framework that allows simultaneous modelling of multiple political solidarities and that includes the individual as well as the macro levels to enable better predictions about how people behave.
• To test causal mechanisms with a range of mostly experimental methods to get a better understanding of causality where observational studies have so far dominated.
• To isolate effective levers that political actors can pull to create political solidarities.
Data: POLITSOLID collects and analyses new data from (1) lab experiments & online surveys, (2) a simulated artificial state ‘Novaland’ in which volunteers from Austria, Germany & Switzerland act as citizens in an online environment, with experimental treatments applied, (3) an international panel survey in six countries and (4) field experiments in collaboration with real political actors.

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Project log

Jakob Jonathan Kemper
added an update
On friday, I presented two papers at the EPSA Annual Conference in Prague. We are very grateful for the comments and questions from the discussants and the audience.
In the paper "Piloting Experimental Tests of Macro-Micro-Level Effects in an Artificial Online State: How Income Inequalities Affect Political Solidarities" I presented first results from the experiments in our artificial state Novaland.
In the paper "The behavioural consequences of political solidarities: Validating the solidarity game on a representative online sample with real-time interaction in oTree" I presented our online implementation of the solidarity game by Selten and Ockenfels (1998) and the plans we have to use this measurement instrument.
 
Jakob Jonathan Kemper
added an update
I presented first results from a pilot study we conducted together with Markus Tepe at the Annual Conference of the Section Methods of Political Science (DVPW), 10 June 2022.
Economic games in political science: Testing the Usability of Solidarity Game Experiments using the open-source platform oTree
Authors: Jakob Kemper, Achim Goerres, Jan Höhne, Markus Tepe
Political psychology and sociology frequently aim to measure the multi-dimensional concept of political solidarity using survey measures. This is done in major surveys, such as the World Values Surveys (WVS). However, political scientists point to methodological shortcomings of survey measures and argue for the use of (experimental) behavioural measures that are collected via behavioural games, such as the solidarity game. The main reason is that political scientists are usually not primarily interested in the attitudes per se, but in the behaviour these elicit. Most frequently, games are conducted in lab rather than in field settings reducing external validity. Solidarity-based behaviour is difficult to measure in the field, but measuring it could help to better understand contributions to a political community. The open-source platform oTree allows researchers to conduct browser-based, interactive experiments and surveys. The programming of the experiment can be done visually via a user-friendly interface in oTree studio or in the programming language Python. In this talk, I present a solidarity game programmed in oTree, and the results from pilot tests with participants from a convenience sample. The game will enable political scientists to measure political solidarity behaviour in a simple way. In addition, I present my research agenda regarding the use of behavioural measures in the study of political solidarities. Measuring human behaviour in an experimental setting allows political scientists to better understand and predict human behaviour in the real world. The transfer of methods from behavioural economics to political science will open new avenues for research.
 
Achim Goerres
added an update
Living in Novaland: Can we Simulate the Experience of States and Public
Policies in an Artificial Online State?
Jan Karem Höhne Jakob Jonathan Kemper and programmer Raphael Hürler
invited by Christoph Knill, LM University of Munich, 31 May 2022
What if we could experimentally manipulate all characteristics of states and
public policies and estimate their effects on citizens? This presentation
puts forward the first evidence from a pilot of Novaland. Novaland is an
artificial liberal democracy that only exists online and that has
characteristics realistically drawn from German, Romanian and US contexts.
The pilot consists of an experimental online platform based on text, images
and audio in which volunteers (a) are surveyed before they go into the
experience, (b) are randomly assigned to different experiences, such as
defined by income, quality of government or state corruption, (c) interact
with each other simultaneously and (d) thereby co-create collective
decisions, such as elections or donation pools, that then determine the
course of Novaland and thereby the subsequent experiences of the
participants.
The pilot gives us many insights into the usefulness of such full
experiential simulations in the social sciences. Can this technically and
organizationally be done? Do participants behave in an externally valid
manner? Do they behave sincerely? What is the potential of such an approach
for finding causal effects?
 
Achim Goerres
added an update
Jan Karem Höhne Jakob Jonathan Kemper and I are origanising the first workshop in Duisburg 28-30 April. We have guests from Norway, the UK, Austria and Germany who are coming to Germany.
a whole workshop on the politics of solidarities
 
Achim Goerres
added an update
We have started working with Markus S. Tepe to develop new measures of solidarities for the online framework Otree.
Jakob Jonathan Kemper is taking the technical lead on Otree and will present first results on 10-11 March at the 24h Political Psychology Network meeting in Chemnitz.
 
Achim Goerres
added an update
Jakob Jonathan Kemper joined the POLITSOLID project in November 2021 or 3 years as project officer and PhD student.
Jan Karem Höhne and I have a new paper under review about how to optimally measure political solidarities in survey
Mark Vail and I have a new paper under review about public responses towards the Covid crisis in the US and DE, using the concept of national models of solidarity.
I gave a presentation at the Research Institute for Social Cohesion Germany. Materials can be found here www.achimgoerres.de/politsolid
Jan, Jakob and I submitted the first-year deliverables to the ERC as to data protection, data management and ethics management.
Prof Peter John of King's College London is our ethics advisor for the rest of the project.
Objectives for 2022
1. get rich and famous
while we are wating for that
2. Jakob Jonathan Kemper will define his PhD thesis and craft his first paper
3. we are working with Markus S. Tepe to create behavioural instruments to measure solidarity in online and offline surveys
4. we are developing a pilot of an online platform to create an artifical world where volunteers can interact
5. we are organising a workshop on solidarity with colleagues from economics, sociology and political science
 
Achim Goerres
added an update
We are recruiting a predoc for three years for th ERC-project POLITSOLID.
1700 € net salary after taxes and health insurance in Duisburg
The ideal candidate should care about why individuals behave politically as they do and in cutting-edge experimental and survey methods.
Deadline is 14 July 2021
Start
 
Achim Goerres
added an update
As part of the theory development, I have co-authored a paper with Mark Vail from Wake Forest @MarkVail about the ways in which the United States and Germany reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic and what we can learn from that about political solidarities.
Solidarities, Fairness, and Economic Governance in Advanced Capitalism:
The Cases of COVID-19 Responses in Germany and the United States
This paper addresses the theoretical question of how competing models of social and economic solidarity shape patterns of economic governance in periods of economic crisis. Using the COVID-19 pandemic as a signal case, we seek to understand how changes in public opinion in response to similar social and economic shocks are informed by deeper ideational structures among citizens relating to their capacity for empathy, mutual support, and willingness to support and trust public policy interventions. Drawing on scholarly literatures related to moral economies and the social embeddedness of economic relationships, we undertake an empirical study of how the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped patterns of support for social and economic policies. We focus on Germany and the United States, countries with widely divergent modes of integration of capitalist markets and, therefore, potentially different levels of support for particular kinds of policy responses. We trace American and German policy responses since March 2020 across a number of domains, complemented by a systematic analysis of public opinion in the two countries, drawing from fifteen different sources of public-opinion data, in order to assess the pandemic’s effects on public support for individualized and collectively-oriented policy responses.
The paper is available here
https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/x37qr (the second still needs pre-approval).
the paper will be presented next week at the virtual Annual Conference of the Council for European Studies
 
Achim Goerres
added an update
Jan Karem Höhne and I started working on POLITSOLID.
Find the Research Agenda for five years here as an online paper
 
Achim Goerres
added an update
On 27 November 2020, I am giving a presentation in German More with one another and more against one another? Political Solidarities during the Corona Pandemic.
find a pre-recorded presentation here
and the slides below
 
Achim Goerres
added an update
I am happy to report that I could recruit Dr Jan Höhne as the leading postdoc for POLITSOLID. Jan Karem Höhne is currently working in the research cluster The Political Economy of Reform at the University of Mannheim. He will start in Duisburg in January 2021.
 
Achim Goerres
added an update
I am recruiting a postdoc to start 01 January 2021
please apply by 14 September
Please share widely.
 
Achim Goerres
added a project goal
This ERC Consolidator Grant project POLITSOLID investigates the micro-foundations of political solidarities in fast-changing European polities. It analyses why some ordinary citizens show a high overall willingness to shoulder costs of public redistribution to other people in a polity, while others do not; and why ordinary citizens have multiple levels of willingness to shoulder costs depending on who receives the benefit.
Relevance: Having high levels of political solidarities is important for modern democracies to deal with exogenous shocks and long-term structural changes in their societies, which create pressures on the political system. Recent exogenous shocks in Europe that brought the necessity of political solidarities to light were the financial crisis (2007/8) with its extensive transnational bail-out policies across the European Union and the large refugee intake (2015/16). Relevant long-term structural changes are population ageing, rising income inequality and mass immigration.
POLITSOLID answers the overarching research question: What drives political solidarities in modern European democracies?
Objectives
• To create a novel theoretical and empirical framework that allows simultaneous modelling of multiple political solidarities and that includes the individual as well as the macro levels to enable better predictions about how people behave.
• To test causal mechanisms with a range of mostly experimental methods to get a better understanding of causality where observational studies have so far dominated.
• To isolate effective levers that political actors can pull to create political solidarities.
Data: POLITSOLID collects and analyses new data from (1) lab experiments & online surveys, (2) a simulated artificial state ‘Novaland’ in which volunteers from Austria, Germany & Switzerland act as citizens in an online environment, with experimental treatments applied, (3) an international panel survey in six countries and (4) field experiments in collaboration with real political actors.