Wednesday, November 9, 2016

On Trump, the Populist Wave, and the Forgotten Virtues of Qualitative Approaches

What really bothers me about Trump’s win is not just the clear disconnect it has revealed between the political and economic elites and the ‘man on the street’; it is also the way it has revealed a dangerous blind spot in the social sciences, which have, in general, either moved towards greater quantification (and therefore an increased distance between themselves and their subject-matter), or have systematically prioritised societal discourses and practices as top-down, unidirectional, elite-led phenomena.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The War on Experts: Why it Matters

Politicians like power, and they do so for a variety of reasons.  Most believe their ideas deserve to be realised for the sake of the public good, or at the very least rationalise their ambition in terms of this adherence to a higher ideal; very few would unashamedly admit to vying for power for its own sake.  In democratic states, the distinction is, in any case, hard to make: no politician was ever elected on a platform of unadulterated, unjustified ambition.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How War in Nagorno-Karabakh Could Spread – and Become a Major Problem for Europe

Every now and then, the West is reminded of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom it knows nothing (as Neville Chamberlain once said). Nagorno-Karabakh is such a place, a tiny enclave that has caused strife between neighbouring Azerbaijan and Armenia even before they gained independence from the Soviet Union.

While recognised as part of Azerbaijan by the international community, the ethnic Armenians living in the Nagorno-Karabakh region fought an independence war to a standstill in 1994. It is now essentially an independent republic supported by Armenia, and while the fragile truce that has held from 1994 on has been regularly breached, the latest bout of fighting is the most serious escalation of violence to date.