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Abstracts for Multidisciplinary Research Workshops 2013-2014

Methodologies of Norms, Norms of Methodologies

Organizers: Gregorio Bettiza (SPS), Thomas Beukers (LAW), and Jesper Rüdiger (ECO)

16 October 2013 
MWP Common Room, Badia Fiesolana


The Max Weber Programme brings together scholars from various disciplines. This implies that we work with a wide range of different methodological approaches and face different challenges. However, we are not always explicit about the methodologies we use, or about what their advantages and shortcomings are, nor of how our methodologies differ from those used by other disciplines. To reflect upon some of the methodological opportunities and challenges we all face across and within disciplines, the multidisciplinary workshop will bring together a panel of MWFs interested in the study of norms (broadly understood also as rules, ideas, beliefs or values). The workshop tackles two interrelated questions: 

o What methodology/s do we use to study norms, rules, beliefs and ideas in our different disciplines and what methodological challenges are we confronted with? 
o How do the prevailing methodological standards and norms in our discipline influence the way we go about our research? 

These questions are of course not only important in the study of norms, but in any academic study. Therefore we want to use them as a springboard to generate a wider discussion about the methodologies we use in our daily work, and why we use them.

Income Tax: a Multidisciplinary Perspective on the Politics of Representation.

Organizers: Charles Brendon (MWF), Michael Donnelly (MWF), Simon Jackson (JMF)

13 November 2013  
MWP Common Room, Badia Fiesolana


This multi-disciplinary workshop asks how representations and analysis of income taxation are generated, disseminated and entrenched politically, eventually becoming ‘common sense’ or contested heresy. 

The appropriate degree of income taxation has been the focus of growing political and academic debate over the last five years. In the wake of the crash of 2008, public awareness of growing income inequality has intensified pressure for higher tax rates, particularly on top earners. In contrast, discussions of economic recovery have often focused on the role lower rates may have in addressing slow economic growth. Consequences for policy have been correspondingly varied. In the UK the top income tax rate was increased significantly in the aftermath of the banking crisis, but was subsequently cut again in 2012; in France the incoming Hollande administration tried to impose a 75% top rate, but encountered strong legal and political obstacles to doing so. 

This growing public debate has coincided with a notable turn towards more practical policy questions among academic economists researching taxation. Work by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty in particular has emphasized simple links between optimal tax rates and observable economic variables, such as the elasticity of labour supply. Their interventions have had a significant impact on the public debate, and helped to shape the platforms of major political parties through the media. Meanwhile historians such as Yanni Kotsonis, Sven Beckert and Nicolas Delalande have increasingly turned to the ways in which taxation connects the state and the citizen, how it impacts on the politics of capital accumulation by dominant classes, or the ways in which popular consent or opposition to taxation of income has been linked to questions of patriotism. In the domain of political science, the active role of the political system as a causal factor in accounting for increased US income inequality has been the focus of influential recent work by Larry Bartels, which highlighted in particular the greater responsiveness of elected representatives to the views of their more affluent constituents on economic questions.

Methods in Social Sciences

Organizers: ECO Academic Practice Group

29 January 2014 
MWP Common Room, Badia Fiesolana


The Max Weber Programme brings together scholars who reason about various social phenomena using various methods in their reasoning. While specialization sharpens the research questions and the methods used to addressed them, it may also narrow avenues for interdisciplinary conversation among specialists. To facilitate our scholarly interaction, this multidisciplinary workshop aims at systematically exposing methods used in different disciplines while broadly focusing on the interaction of inductive and deductive reasoning. The panel of MWFs will present: the nature of questions they address; the methodological choices regarding qualitative and/or quantitative approaches and how they analyze them.

Wars, War Crimes and Their Consequences

Organizers: HEC Academic Practice Group

5 March 2014
MWP Common Room, Badia Fiesolana


Whether hot or cold, wars and their crimes have left deep fractures in the legal, economic and social fabric of European society. It is therefore not so surprising that many Max Weber Fellows are interested in wars, war crimes and their consequences in the modern world. This workshop hopes to reflect the importance not only of this topic itself, but also of adopting an interdisciplinary approach in order to fully understand the depth and breadth of the effects of wars and war crimes. 
- What are our different methodological approaches to understanding wars, war crimes and their consequences? 
- Do these consequences change in time and space, or can we discern patterns? 
- Whilst many of us are aware of the visible and immediate consequences of wars and war crimes, what about the slower shifts we can discern? 
- What of the total absence of consequence in view of wars and war crimes? 
- How politicised do these consequences become? 
- Are they imposed from the highest ranks in society, or are they brought about by more grass-roots phenomena?

"Lost in a Sea of White Male Faces": A Round Table on the Glass Ceiling in Academia

Joint event organized by MWP, HEC, GRaSe Working Group, LAW, RSCAS
on occasion of International Women's Day
12 March 2014
MWP Common Room, Badia Fiesolana


The concept of the glass ceiling in academia is not a new one; the experience of such ceilings even less so. Evidence for the persistence of such ceilings abounds, and makes for depressing reading, particularly in light of concerted efforts on the part of determined individuals, second-wave feminist movements and (eventually) of the institutions themselves. It would seem that years of activism on this front have served merely to displace the frontiers rather than abolish them altogether. Our round table on March 12th will honour International Women’s Day by bringing together scholars and activists from across the disciplines in an effort to better understand the deep structures upholding such ceilings. From there we can begin to reflect on ways in which those structures might be changed in order for the academy to open out its embrace beyond the white males who continue to dominate its upper echelons. In so doing, we hope not only to raise awareness of the resistance of glass ceilings in academia; we seek also to provide a forum where younger scholars can discuss some of the challenges awaiting them as they progress in their academic careers.

Financial Stability in Europe

Organizers LAW Academic Practice Group 
30 April 2014
MWP Common Room,Badia Fiesolana


In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS) was implemented as the institutional framework of European financial supervision trying to regain and ensure financial stability in achieving the common internal market. 
The European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs), constituting the European Banking Authority (EBA), the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and a European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) were given the authority to converge the different supervisory and regulatory approaches to financial institutions of the EU member states. The European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) under the responsibility of the European Central Bank (ECB) complements the framework. 
The framework was further developed with the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) whereas the ECB assumes responsibility for specific supervisory and regulatory tasks for SIFIs in the EU to establish an integrated banking union with a "single rulebook in the form of capital requirements,...harmonised deposit protection schemes...and a single European recovery and resolution framework." 
The transfer of member states' competence and discretion in supervising and regulating financial institutions to a European Authority could be problematic, not only in legal terms but also politically. The supervisory and regulatory activity of the EU in harmonising national laws and limiting fragmentation of financial markets could expose a further risk, deepening the Eurozone crisis even more in the case the new regulatory structure is not flexible enough to adapt and implement economic policy measures to the constantly changing environment. 
The aim of this workshop would be to shed greater light on the likely consequences and possible disputes between member states that the new European regulatory and supervisory authorities could bring.


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