The association between attitudes and political representation under different electoral systems

It’s been a while since Maria Sobolewska suggested to me, that perhaps the association between public attitudes and political representation may be different under different electoral systems (PR versus majoritarian). The intuition here is that institutions always work in a particular context. To some extent, my work acknowledged this by leaving out unfree countries because the expected dynamics are different — but there indeed is more to it.

I have shown that there is a strong association between positive attitudes to minorities and the inclusion of minorities in political offices.

If we look at the interaction between attitudes and electoral system, we find that this association is much stronger under majoritarian/MMM systems. Although I’m not sure that we should read much into the blue line here (PR/MMP systems) because the ethnic representation score does not vary that much.

At the same time, looking at gender representation, we find a strong association between attitudes in the population and gender representation scores.

Maybe someone wants to dig deeper here? Possibly a consideration of why PR systems may be good for minorities could complement this.

Ruedin, Didier. 2009. “Ethnic Group Representation in a Cross-National Comparison.” The Journal of Legislative Studies 15(4):335–54. doi: 10.1080/13572330903302448.

Ruedin, Didier. 2012. “The Representation of Women in National Parliaments: A Cross-National Comparison.” European Sociological Review 28(1):96–109. doi: 10.1093/esr/jcq050.

Ruedin, Didier. 2013. Why Aren’t They There? The Political Representation of Women, Ethnic Groups and Issue Positions in Legislatures. Colchester: ECPR Press.

Ruedin, Didier. 2020. “Ethnic and Regional Minorities.” Pp. 211–28 in Handbook of Political Representation in Liberal Democracies, edited by R. Rohrschneider and J. J. Thomassen. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Academic age

In principle, academic age is simple: the number of years since you completed the PhD. The idea is that your physical age is irrelevant when we evaluate your track records (publications, citations). Instead, we consider how much time you had to build that track.

So far, I guess we’re all on board. However, just looking at the time since your PhD (is that the viva or the graduation ceremony, by the way?) is inadequate if you could not actually do research, like if you were working in industry or engaged in clinical activities (i.e. non-academic employment) or were on parental leave. We can account for this, like the new SNSF CV do, in the spirit of the DORA declaration:

The net academic age is the amount of time you have actually been able to dedicate to research, after deducting interruptions and non-scientific work.

The SNSF template offers: maternity; paternity, adoption, parental leave [as a separate category]; illness or accident; care duties; public service; continuing education; non-academic employment or clinical activities; part-time work; unemployment; other.

However, the more I think about it, the more complicated it gets. For instance, it is increasingly common for PhD students to do paper dissertations, that is, they write a series of academic journal articles rather than a monograph. In terms of research undertaken, this is equivalent, but in terms of publications and citations, a paper dissertation gives you a head start over a classic monograph that may be published a year or so after graduation.

Parental leave and reduced percentages for care reasons seem pretty straight-forward. But what about those who keep working on their research projects during parental leave, do they get a deduction because technically they were on leave, or not because effectively they worked?

Where does academic employment end (or is scientific work the relevant concept? — the guidelines are vague)? In my case, I do a substantial part of my work consulting on commissioned work for government offices etc. Is this academic employment because it entails research and (basic) scientific methods, is this academic employment because the job is at a university (but what if I did the same work in industry, like many of our competitors?), or is this non-academic employment because we produce grey literature (reports that may or may not be published, no peer-review), or because we do not choose our own research question, or because these publications do not count (or even count negatively!) when it comes to tenure prospects?

How do we account for stability? A string of short-term jobs where you spend much of your time applying for the next opportunity are a different beast than tenure-track or tenured positions! And indeed, even two seemingly stable, tenured jobs can be quite different in terms of teaching load. If your net academic age does not consider the fact that some academics can focus all their energy on research, while others are teaching staff doing as much research on the sides as they can, the aim of “allowing us to make a fair comparison with other applicants” is a hollow promise.

I don’t know, we can also add administration and management duties, a boss who gives you the freedom to undertake whatever research you want (or no boss at all) versus a boss who tells you exactly what to work on (e.g. in a project), the resources you have available like research assistants or money to field work or experiments, if authorship practices in your team differ from common practice in your discipline…

And then we get evaluated by criteria like “excellence” (for grants) or “fit” (for jobs) that are as vague as they are explicit (as DORA requires) — does it really make things better if we adjust for net academic age?

Intro to sociology as cartoon

Daniel Burnier and colleagues have just published a cartoon to introduce sociology as a discipline using a cartoon. The cartoon is available in French.

The cartoon is both a personal account of the main author, and a general introduction to the discipline. Contrary to PhD Comics, this book isn’t about academia, but much more a reflection about what sociology can contribute to the world — the usefulness of the discipline. This introspective focus on what the discipline can do for society more broadly may be something sociologists like doing, but the book doesn’t stop there.

We get an introduction to several (male) key thinkers and many sociological topics like gender roles, social movements, or poverty. I was happy to see the key thinkers banished to the appendix because I’m still struggling with any presentation of a discipline by individuals rather than their thoughts.

Given that the story is told by a male protagonist, I was glad to see an explicit section on female sociologists — but honestly it felt a bit like an afterthought. Perhaps the (personal) storyline made it difficult to do otherwise?

The kind of sociology presented is sociological theory and qualitative research. While this is certainly part of sociology, many of us use experimental and quantitative approaches — and do not struggle that much to see usefulness in what we do (perhaps the occasional reflexivity would do no harm in those quarters…).

Despite these comments, I did enjoy this cartoon and honestly, there’s potential for an English version…

PhD opportunity in gender and migration

Dr Sirijit Sunanta is looking for a  motivated and talented prospective student to be funded a full scholarship to study in the PhD Program in Multicultural Studies at RILCA, Mahidol University, in the areas of gender studies, migration, mobilities and cultural diversity, ethnicity and multiculturalism. The scholarship, based at Mahidol University, covers tuition and educational fee, monthly allowance (15K THB), research fees, and international research/exchange visit at an overseas institution.

Deadline for applications, October 15th, 2022.