Projects

Projects in Progress

 

Completed Projects

 
 

Projects in Progress

Evaluating the Citizen Participation Process in the 2050 Climate Protection Plan

Director Prof. Dr. Thorsten Faas (de)
Researcher Julia Range, M.A. (de)
Financing Bertelsmann Stiftung
Term 2015-2016
Description
The government aims for a process of dialogue and participation in drawing up the 2050 Climate Protection Plan. In order to achieve this aim, citizen participation processes are needed. On behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation, our team “Empirical Political Research” scientifically accompanies the process of citizen participation as well as the subsequent process of passing the 2050 Climate Protection Plan. The following questions are central to our evaluation: To which extent do the initiators succeed in acquiring a representative selection of citizens? How do citizens evaluate this recruitment? What do citizens expect from the participation process and does it meet these expectations? How does the participation process affect participants’ environmental awareness and their willingness to contribute to climate protection themselves? Does it affect participants’ satisfaction with democracy and their attitude towards direct democracy and citizen participation, and if so, are there any differences between supporters and opponents of climate protection in terms of satisfaction with the participation process? And to which extent will the 2050 Climate Protection Plan include proposals made during the citizen participation process?
In order to gain a comprehensive picture, this evaluation study uses a set of instruments from individual to larger population surveys.

 

Evaluating the “Participatory Legislative Process” of the Planned Transparency Law in Rhineland-Palatinate

Director Prof. Dr. Thorsten Faas (de)
Researcher Julia Range, M.A. (de)
Financing Bertelsmann Stiftung
Term 2015-2016
Description
Rhineland-Palatinate could be the first German Land introducing a transparency law. The legislative process will be extended by an advisory, deliberative process of citizen participation: On an online discussion forum as well as in several workshops, citizens, affected groups (administration, municipalities) and interest groups are given the opportunity to make suggestions on how the law should look like.
In cooperation with the Bertelsmann foundation, our team of empirical political researchers accompanies the participatory process from a scientific perspective: Which expectations do the citizens have? Does the opportunity of participation live up to the citizens’ expectations? To which extent does the participatory process have an impact on the citizens’ attitudes towards the planned transparency law, democracy in Rhineland-Palatinate in general, and the participatory process itself? Will the decision-makers take the citizens’ suggestions into consideration? If not, will they give comprehensible explanations for their decision? In order to answer these questions and to provide a comprehensive picture, this evaluation study will consist of surveys focusing only on the participants as well as of population surveys.

 

Political Communication in Times of New Information and Communication Technology

Director Prof. Dr. Thorsten Faas (de)
Researcher Benjamin C. Sack, M.A. (de)
Financing Bonner Akademie für Forschung und Lehre praktischer Politik (BAPP)
Term 2015
Links Project website at the BAPP
Description
Due to changes in electoral behavior towards a less stable but rather short-term decision making, situationally-shaped political information become more important. At the same time, information reception has changed correspondingly to technological developments such as social media. The project, therefore, investigates the influence of social media usage on the attitude and behavior of voters and the corresponding consequences for political communication in Germany. The empirical data will be taken from the Bundestag election 2013, the European election 2014, and continuing surveys from 2015.

 

Referendum „Stuttgart 21“/ Civic Participation and Direct Democracy in Baden-Württemberg

Director Prof. Dr. Thorsten Faas (de), Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck
Researcher Johannes N. Blumenberg, M.A. (de), Julia Range, M.A. (de)
Financing State Ministry Baden-Wuerttemberg
Term 2011-2013
Links Project website at the MZES
Description
During the previous months, the public conflict about the infrastructure project "Stuttgart 21" has raised fundamental questions concerning the modalities of political participation and the legitimacy of political decisions. It became clear that the participation processes that were part of the planning and approval stage were not enough to ensure the project’s acceptance. Even the ad hoc mediation lead by Heiner Geißler did not result in wide-spread acceptance: The public protest went on hardly changed. After the state election in March 2011, the coalition partners agreed on holding a referendum to solve the issue. The referendum was accompanied by scientific basic research at the University of Mannheim. In continuation of the project "Election Study Baden-Württemberg 2011", the respondents of the previous study were surveyed again before and after the referendum. For the first time regarding referenda, an online rolling panel design was used in Germany, which allows a very detailed recording of opinion formation in the run-up to the referendum. Special attention was given to questions of democratic legitimacy. The online survey was accompanied by two telephone surveys. The surveyed data is currently being prepared for further analyses.

 

The Dynamics of Voting: A Long-term Study of Change and Stability in the German Electoral Process, Teilmodul Televised Debates

Directors Module: Prof. Dr. Thorsten Faas (de), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Maier (de), Prof. Dr. Michaela Maier (de)
GLES: Prof. Dr. Hans Rattinger (de), Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, Prof. Dr. Sigrid Roßteutscher (de), Prof. Dr. Bernhard Weßels, Prof. Dr. Christof Wolf (de)
Financing DFG long-term funding as part of the project "The Dynamics of Voting: A Long-term Study of Change and Stability in the German Electoral Process”
Term 2013-2016
Description
Our overall goal is to describe and explain changes concerning electoral decisions made by German voters (including the context in which electoral decisions are made). This is to be done from a longitudinal perspective including the national elections of 2009, 2013, and 2017. The module about the top candidates’ television debates adds a micro-foundation of these processes, since it especially focuses on the processes of information perception/processing and uses real-time reactions from test persons documented during the debate’s reception. In addition to theses real-time data, a four-wave panel design is created around the debate. The collection of the real-time data and survey data offers a precise insight into processes of the perception of political objects and citizens’ opinion formation (also with regard to dynamics).

 

Completed Projects

Election Study Baden-Württemberg 2011

Director Prof. Dr. Thorsten Faas (de)
Researcher Johannes N. Blumenberg, M.A. (de)
Financing Juniorprofessorenprogramm des Landes Baden-Württemberg
Term 2010-2012
Links Project website at the MZES
Description
Empirical electoral sociology is a nationally as well internationally established sub-discipline of political science, which fulfils theoretical, analytical, and empirical professional standards. The focus in German research was mainly put on the analysis of national elections while the analysis of federal elections remained to be of peripheral interest. This focus, however, appears to be insufficient, considering the changes in the electoral process (e.g. the decrease in turnout, increase of swing voters), the characteristics of Germany’s federal system, and the increasing importance of federal political decisions.
Against this background, we carried out the “Election Study Baden-Württemberg 2011”, investigating in detail processes of public opinion formation and decision making within the German multi-level system. Such processes were then analyzed considering relevant theories and models. To do so, an innovative design was used for the first time ever in Germany: a rolling panel design. Within the frame of an online survey, it combines the advantages of rolling cross-section designs with those of classic panel designs. We were thus able to scrutinize changes occurring during the run-up to the Baden-Württemberg state election.

 

Immigration and Voting Behavior

Director Prof. Dr. Thorsten Faas (de)
Researcher Sebastian Fietkau, M.Sc./M.A. (de)
Financing Juniorprofessorenprogramm des Landes Baden-Württemberg
Term 2011-2014
Links Project website at the MZES
Description
Against the background of the constant discussion on the need for (qualified) foreign labor, migration gained more and more political relevance over the last few years in Germany. Considering the tension between economic needs and democratic legitimacy as well as the citizens’ increasingly volatile electoral behavior, the project’s intention is to make an innovative and substantial contribution to research concerning the attitudes of natives and immigrants, including background information and possible consequences. In Europe research and respective surveys on this topic were progressively established in the last few years. Respondents were asked about their perceptions and attitudes in a usually direct and straight up way. Recent studies from the US use additional innovative measures in order to take still relevant aspects into account, e.g. skin colour, religion, and migration. With the help of visual techniques (morphing), list experiments, and implicit attitude tests (IAT), the different aspects of the complex issue can be considered with regard to the tension between stereotypes, prejudices, and political correctness. This means that, in contrast to prevailing German research, the project goes beyond the classic survey instruments and takes up the current international state of the art. At the same time, the study’s design allows the direct comparison of strengths and weaknesses of the different innovative techniques. However, this methodologically accentuated contribution is not limited to migration but can be applied to all sorts of socially sensitive topics.

 

Local elections in Mainz: A Project on voter mobilization

Directors Prof. Dr. Thorsten Faas (de)
Researcher Daniela Hohmann, M.A. (de)
Financing Entwicklungsagentur Rheinland-Pfalz e.V.
Term April to September 2014
Description
Political participation is democracy‘s elixir of life. Nevertheless, past elections, especially by-elections, have shown that fewer and fewer people participate in elections. Even though electoral research gives some clues for the explanation of this phenomenon, research on non-voting is still in its infancy. Taking a look at US-research, however, there are some innovative procedures of how to examine by-election turnouts and achieve substantial results for theory and praxis. Our study fits in the international state of the art and aims to contribute to the developing of German political science in the field of mobilization potential. The first results will soon be published on this website.

 

The Dynamics of Voting: A Long-term Study of Change and Stability in the German Electoral Process, Teilmodul Televised Debates

Directors Module: Prof. Dr. Thorsten Faas (de), Prof. Dr. Jürgen Maier (de), Prof. Dr. Michaela Maier (de)
GLES: Prof. Dr. Hans Rattinger (de), Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Schmitt-Beck, Prof. Dr. Sigrid Roßteutscher (de), Prof. Dr. Bernhard Weßels
Financing DFG long-term funding as part of the project "The Dynamics of Voting: A Long-term Study of Change and Stability in the German Electoral Process”
Term 2009-2010
Description
Our overall goal is to describe and explain changes concerning electoral decisions made by German voters (including the context in which electoral decisions are made). This is to be done from a longitudinal perspective including the national elections of 2009, 2013, and 2017. The module about the top candidates’ television debates adds a micro-foundation of these processes, since it especially focuses on the processes of information perception/processing and uses real-time reactions from test persons documented during the debate’s reception. In addition to theses real-time data, a four-wave panel design is created around the debate. The collection of the real-time data and survey data offers a precise insight into processes of the perception of political objects and citizens’ opinion formation (also with regard to dynamics).

 

PVS Special Issue 2015: Political Psychology – An Interdisciplinary Research Paradigm Explaining Political Phenomena

Directors Prof. Dr. Thorsten Faas (de), Dr. Cornelia Frank (de), Prof. Dr. Harald Schoen (de)
Financing Fritz Thyssen Foundation, German Political Science Association (DVPW)
Term 2013-2015
Description
Political Psychology examines the role of psychological factors and processes in politics. It analyzes which impact these factors have on the political behavior of citizens as well as of elites in national, international, and transnational contexts. A cross-cutting issue, political psychology gains national and international importance for all disciplines of political science while not depending on special theoretical or empirical focuses. Political psychology was thus chosen by the managing board of the German Political Science Association (DVPW) and its advisors to become the topic of the 2015 Special Issue. The issue is supposed to give an overview of the field of political psychology research and to become a work of reference for interested political scientists who are not necessarily specialized in this field. Moreover, the special issue covers the research field in its width and potential and connects different fields of political science as well as different disciplines.