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Lecture Series

Social Preferences and Political Behavior


For a long time, empirical research in political science has been dominated by studies on the macro-level. However, all social phenomena result from motivations and actions of individual agents. This calls for theoretical explanations referring to individual behavior and empirical tests on the micro-level. The lecture series highlights the importance of micro-level-based research in political science and features a broad variety of theoretical and empirical approaches.

The lecture series takes place both in the summer term 2016 and in the winter term 2016/17. Upcoming lectures in June examine the influence of poverty on political preferences and vote choices.

Upcoming events

16. Januar 2017, 17:45-19:15

Prof. Sven Steinmo, Ph.D.

(European University Institute)

Willing to Pay? Testing Institutionalist Theories with Experiments

Seminarraum 2 (Institutshörsaal) des Instituts für Politikwissenschaft
 Gebäude 203, Gottfried-Keller-Str. 6, 50931 Köln


Talk by Bernhard Kittel

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Kittel

(Universität Wien)

Empirical Justice Research: Institutions, Attitudes, and Behavior

Seminarraum 2 (Institutshörsaal) des Instituts für Politikwissenschaft

29. November 2016, 17:45-19:15



Justice research has moved from normative political theory to the empirical social sciences. Focusing on distributive justice, the presentation first addresses the comparative evaluation of welfare institutions from the perspective of their capacity to produce 'just' outcomes in a 'just' way. Then comparative survey research on justice perceptions and attitudes in the population is scrutinzed. Finally, experimental work on the manifestation of justice principles as social norms is explored. Taking justice as an example, the presentation will proceed by discussing the relationship between theory and method in macro-comparative research, comparative survey research, and laboratory experimental research. It will reflect on the way in which research questions are raised at different levels of analysis and ask questions about the ways in which specific questions imply particular methodological approaches. While addressing the same topic, studies set at different levels of analysis will observe different facets of the phenomenon.

Talk by Richard Traunmüller

The CCCP lecture series 'Microfoundations of Politics - Social Preferences and Political Behavior' continued on October 25th with a talk by Prof. Dr. Richard Traunmüller (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main). Prof. Traunmüller presented the results of a survey experiment carried out in the UK which investigated the attitudes toward political rights of immigrant populations. His research reveals that citizens’ attitudes towards immigrants are not primarily the results of opinions about the incoming population but rather the reaction towards the policy response formulated by political elites. People with prior anti-immigration views respond to liberal policy responses such as granting fundamental political rights to migrants by increasing their disapproval of immigration in general. The results are of high relevance to current debates about immigration, policy responses and public opinion on the matter.

Talk by Anja Neundorf


The CCCP lecture series „Microfoundations of Politics – Social Preferences and Political Behavior“ started with Anja Neundorf’s (University of Nottingham) talk on the importance of political context for the formation of political preferences. In her presentation, Dr. Neundorf argued that material hardship only activates increased demand for redistribution and social security by the state when the political context is strongly polarized and parties offer policy alternatives that voters can relate to.

Talk by Eva Wegner

On June 21st, Dr. Eva Wegner (GIGA Hamburg) held the second talk in the CCCP lecture series 'Microfoundations of Politics - Social Preferences and Political Behavior', titled „Efficacy, System Justification and the Political Choices of the Poor“. The focus of her talk lay on a fascinating field experiment conducted in South Africa, varying participants' information about income inequality. Together with her colleagues, she finds that demand for redistribution is strongly affected by individuals' perception of how inevitable inequality is. This could explain why demand for redistribution tends to be low in very unequal societies, and how 'self-perpetuing' inequality can occur.