Phase 1: A Systematic Long-term Analysis of Political Structuration
1. Election Campaign Study
In this first phase of the project, we start with an extension of the scope in time and space of the research on the transformation of the political space in Western European in the age of globalization. We analyze the latest electoral campaigns in Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Switzerland through a core sentence analysis of the newspaper reports on the electoral campaigns that have taken place from 2008 until 2015. Furthermore, we extend the study of the political space to Southern and Eastern European countries. This extension allows us to cover the variety of countries and political systems that we are interested in studying in the broader project. This allows us to test the effects of the crisis on the transformation of the political space on a greater variety of socio-political contexts. Thus, we ask whether and how the Great Recession altered the identified trends in the transformation of the economic and the cultural dimensions of the political space.
2. Protest Event Analysis
In the Protest Event Analysis, the project offers an innovative process of data collection based on semi-automated coding of new wires. We collaborate with computational linguists to build a process of semi-automated coding of news wires from 30 European countries to construct a dataset covering protest events in the 27 EU member state and in three additional non-EU member states – Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland – over a period of 16 years, from 2000 to 2015. The semi-automated coding procedure allows us to code relevant variables such as location, number of participants, protest forms, actors involved, trigger of the events, and issues addressed. Thus, we can address questions related to the extent of political protest in reaction to the crisis in multiple countries and political systems in Europe. In particular, we can ask who are the actors involved, what forms does the protest take, who the protesters target, what are their claims, as well as the extent and the breadth of protest in Europe in the shadow of the Great Recession.
3. The Interaction of Elections and Protest: A Large-N Study of 30 European countries
Importantly, our project aims at understanding the interaction dynamics between elections and protest. Thus, we contribute to the dialogue between researchers working on party politics and researchers working on contentious politics that seldom speak to each other. In particular, we combine the literature on strategic party competition and that on dynamics of contention from the social movement literature and we focus on the mechanisms that connect conventional and contentious politics. The mechanisms are designed to specify the links between the actors involved in these interaction dynamics, but also to clarify whether and how the mobilization of challengers in the protest arena shape public opinion, have an impact on the political agenda, and ultimately on the policy outcomes.
Phase 2: Longitudinal Regional Case Studies
In this second phase of the study, we analyze the interactions between governments and their challengers in a selected set of twelve countries over time – before and after the crisis, thus, we take the same time span as for the first phase (2000-2015). We are interested in the comparison within and across three regions – Western, Southern, and Eastern Europe. In each region we select countries depending on the intensity of the economic crisis. Thus, for each region we select two countries moderately hit by the crisis and two countries strongly hit by the crisis. In these case studies, we relate the political responses to the crisis in the electoral and the protest arena. We propose to focus on chains of events to untangle how established political actors and challengers interact with each other in the way they frame the crisis and make claims related to it.
In the longitudinal regional case studies, we resort again to newspaper core sentence analysis, but with a different focus. Here, we analyze the conventional politics throughout the year – not only electoral campaigns – and all events related to contentious politics in order to grasp the interaction dynamics overtime. More specifically, we propose to work on the iterative identification of key events to trace chains of events before and after the crisis to understand how political parties and protesters reacted to the crisis and how their interactions shaped the political outcomes of the economic crisis. Regarding the political actors, we are interested at actors set at the different levels: supranational, national, and subnational.
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