Government and International Relations Colloquium Series

The Department of Government and International Relations Colloquium Series aims to showcase recent research by members of the Department, visiting scholars and international and interstate guests in an informal setting, conducive to lively debate. It is an open event and everyone is welcome to attend. If you would like to be informed of future events then please contact who will add your name to our email list. The Series is coordinated by .

Semester 2, 2012

Thursday 2 August 2012 - 3.30 - 4.30pm
Speaker: Eszter Hargittai (Northwestern University) and Aaron Shaw (University of California, Berkeley)
Topic: The Internet, Young Adults, and Political Engagement around the 2008 US Presidential Elections

Popular narratives have assumed that digital media play a central role mobilizing voters, especially young adults. Based on unique survey data of a diverse group or young adults from Spring, 2009, we consider the relationship between online and offline political engagement around the time of the 2008 presidential elections. Thanks to our rich data set, we are able to consider various types of online and offline activities in the process while taking into consideration more traditional measures. Our findings suggest that online forms of political engagement complement offline engagement and the pathways to young adults' political participation remain relatively stable. We also find an association between Internet skills and social network site usage and greater levels of engagement. These findings imply that although Internet usage alone is unlikely to transform existing patterns in political engagement radically, it may facilitate the creation of new pathways for the reduction of political inequalities.

Eszter Hargittai is Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Faculty Associate of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University where she heads the Web Use Project. She is also Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. She received her PhD in Sociology from Princeton University. Her research focuses on the social and policy implications of digital media with a particular interest in how differences in people's Web-use skills influence what they do online. She is editor of Research Confidential: Solutions to Problems Most Social Scientists Pretend They Never Have (University of Michigan Press 2009). Her work has received awards from several organizations and regularly receives coverage in the popular press.

For more information, see and

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]
Thursday 23 August 2012 - 3.30-4.30pm
Speaker: David T. Smith
United States Studies Centre and Department of Government and International Relations
University of Sydney

Dr David Smith

The recent electoral success of Mitt Romney has convinced many observers that ambivalence about Mormons no longer matters politically in the United States. This paper shows that in fact, attitudes towards Mormons continue to be extremely divisive on two levels: on the one hand, many religious conservatives distrust Mormons and refuse to vote for them out of the traditional concern that they are not Christian as they claim to be; on the other hand, secularists and religious liberals see Mormons as part of the conservative religious coalition along with evangelicals and Catholics, harboring a distinctly repressive social agenda which makes them potentially dangerous as political leaders. Thus Mormon politicians are in an extremely awkward position between these two sides of America’s “culture war,” not fully accepted by either side. Using new survey questions about attitudes towards Mormons, this paper explores the natures of the two anti-Mormonisms and the electoral penalties associated with each. I argue that conservative anti-Mormonism was a more important factor than Tea Party support or small government purity in the Republican Primary, and it could continue to be an important factor in driving down conservative enthusiasm while firing up the Democratic base.

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]
Thursday 13 September 2012 - 3.30 - 4.30pm
Speaker: Sarah Phillips
Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney
Topic: ‘Al-Qa’ida: Manufactured by America’ Stabilisation and Conspircism in Yemen

This talk will examine some of the unintended consequences of framing rapid political change as a security threat. It will argue that by so explicitly tying development assistance to political and security objectives, the US Stabilisation Strategy in Yemen may have set the stage for an increasingly conspiratorial form of politics – the implications of which extend well beyond Yemen’s borders.

The problem of al-Qa’ida in Yemen is deeply political and is much more complex than the ‘jihadis versus the state’ model that the Stabilisation Strategy implicitly rests upon. In Yemen, ‘al-Qa’ida’ is not only a network of ruthless militants but it is also an accusation that can be levelled – with varying degrees of credibility – against some members of the regime for having historical (some argue ongoing) connections with some of its members. In this sense, al-Qa’ida is more than just a terrorist organisation; it is so often evoked as a domestic political pejorative that it has become enmeshed in mythologies about how national power functions. This talk will suggest that by failing to adequately account for these perceptions, US policy risks entrenching a level of anti-Western sentiment in Yemen that may prove difficult to unmake.

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]
Thursday 4 October 2012 - 3.30 - 4.30pm
Speaker: Carol Johnson
Discipline of Politics, University of Adelaide
Topic: Social Democracy in Uncertain Times: Governing the Politics and Economics of Emotion

This paper argues that economic governance involves not just governing the domestic economy and, increasingly, the impact of international markets on it, but also governing the political economy of affect. Indeed, contemporary Western governments face particular challenges as they negotiate turmoil in global markets, the rise of Asia and the relative decline of the West, with implications for feelings of security, uncertainty and fear of the “Other”. This paper draws on examples from a range of countries, including Britain and the US, although with particular emphasis on Australia. Australian social democratic governments, like their international counterparts, have not just been concerned with governing the economy and society. They have also been concerned with governing the politics and political economy of emotion, particularly in regard to feelings of economic and social security and the politics of fear. Nonetheless, Australian social democracy’s embrace of aspects of neo-liberalism has had unintended implications for their ability to construct an alternative emotional regime to that of their opponents. The implications for comparative studies of social democracy, and for the increasing literature on the economics and politics of emotion are also identified.

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]
Thursday 25 October 2012 - 3.30 - 4.30pm
Speaker: Darren Halpin
Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University
Herschel F. Thomas
Department of Political Science, University of Texas at Austin
Topic: Mobilisation Dynamics and the Fluidity of Organised Interest Populations: Evidence from Scottish Public Policy

The political science literature has spent considerable time quantifying the size of organized interest populations. A central, and repeated, finding has been the ‘explosion’ of organizations engaged in public policy over time. The apparent year on year growth in group populations raises several questions about the dynamics underpinning growth. Growth fits with the group theory emphasis on formation issues: size reflects underlying (and increasingly complex) interest structures. But, on the other hand, most scholars accept that populations are very fluid and that growth must be somehow limited. For instance, at face value, growth does seem to offend the logic of population ecology arguments that emphasize competition for viability among groups. This article tests these different arguments utilising population data covering organised interest participation in Scottish public policy. We use a data set that documents mobilization by more than 18,000 discrete actors on more than 1600 issues over a twenty-five year period (1982-2007). The longitudinal data provides a chance to test the various explanations of the processes that drive the undoubted fluidity of organised interest populations. Among other things, we note a distinction between a constantly engaged core of policy professionals and a very ephemeral set of policy amateurs. Lessons are drawn with respect to the comparative literature on organised interest populations.

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]
Thursday 8 November 2012 - 4 - 5pm
Speaker: Ben O’Loughlin
Royal Holloway, University of London
Topic: ‘Influencing Foreigners is Difficult’: Strategic Narratives, Media Ecologies and The People

Strategic narratives are a means for states to create shared meanings about the past, present and future of international relations. They are conceived by policymakers as tools to influence overseas publics, in a new great game in which ‘the people’ are reified as the site of power and hope and whose energies must be harnessed. “If only the people would buy in to our narrative” – not 1960s Madison Avenue, but 2010s Capitol Hill. Our state departments are playing a twin-track strategy. They must exploit the media ecologies of the day, distributing their narrative within national and transnational public spheres. But they must also compete to shape the infrastructure of these ecologies itself, since that infrastructure privileges certain voices and certain ways of communicating over others. The United States pursues an agenda of ‘Internet freedom’ that deploys both tracks: a narrative in media ecologies about freedom, and an effort to shape media ecologies so more voices can support the freedom narrative. Other countries are engaged in the same game. The UK government even fears it is losing “the battle of the narratives”. This presentation will look at some of the difficulties that are emerging. These include policymakers’ conceptions of ‘the people’, their conceptions of ‘influence’, and their inability to control media ecologies which are being transformed more by commerce and technology than by geopolitical sensitivities.

Ben O’Loughlin is Professor of International Relations and Co-Director of the New Political Communication Unit at Royal Holloway, University of London. @ben_oloughlin

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]

Semester 1, 2012

Click here to download the Colloquium Series (pdf).

**Special Seminar**
Wednesday 7 March 2012 - 4 - 6pm
Speaker: Professor Sergei Ryazantsev
Russian Academy of Sciences

Joint Seminar hosted by the Department of Government and International Relations, the Department of Sociology and Social Policy and the Centre for Multicultural and Migration Research


Contemporary Russian Migration: Trends, Challenges & Policy Options

Prof Sergei RyanzantsevRussia is actively involved in the process of international migration as an intermediary between the North and the South. It attracts migrants from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and Asia, and is now one of the leading immigrant-receiving countries. Many immigrants consider Russian territory as a ‘transit point’ in their further migration to Western Europe. Emigration from Russia has also been considerable: since 1989, more than 1.2 million people have left Russia for permanent residence abroad. The major destination countries are Germany, Israel and the USA. Russia has also become a major exporter of labour to foreign labour markets, with 45-60,000 contract workers leaving annually. Current estimates are that 25-30 million persons of Russian background live outside Russia. This means that the Russian-speaking diaspora is second in size only to the Chinese.

On balance the country is faced overall with population decline, a decrease in the working-aged population, and an aging population. In this situation, Russian immigration policy is directed not at restricting entry, but at attracting the required categories of immigrants. Although the formal policy position is that immigrants are necessary, at the level of practice one sees the directly opposite concern with restricting immigration, involving a struggle against illegal migration and generally limiting the migrant inflow.

This presentation will argue that Russian migration policy requires change in the following directions: providing for entry of foreign-based Russians, attracting skilled, educated migrants, inviting the necessary number of guest workers to meet the needs of the labour market, and stimulating migratory mobility among the Russian population.

Click here to download the flyer

Venue: RC Mills building Room 148, A26 [map]
Thursday 8 March 2012 - 3.30-4.30pm
Speaker: Professor Diana Coole
Birkbeck College, University of London
Visiting Fellow, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney

Is there a population problem and if there is, can we talk about it?

Prof Diana Coole

In my talk I’ll outline my Leverhulme project: ‘Too Many Bodies? The Politics and Ethics of the World Population Question’. I’ll also explain the kind of questions I’ll be addressing in Australia. The more formal part of my talk will be based on a paper that examines why, since the mid-1970s, recommending population stabilization or reduction has been effectively precluded whereas during the preceding decade, population had been part of a radical limits-to-growth agenda. In the paper I identify five discourses of disavowal or dismissal: population-shaming, population-scepticism, population-declinism, population-decomposing and population-fatalism.

Professor Coole’s presentation will be followed by an Insights 2012 Inaugural Lecture by Professor David Schlosberg (Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney) entitled ‘Politics in a Climate-Challenged Society’

Download Prof. Coole's paper (pdf)

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]
Thursday 15 March 2012 - 3.30-4.30pm
Speaker: Dr Emanuele Ottolenghi
Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Joint Seminar hosted by the Department of Government and International Relations and the Centre for International Security Studies.


Is Iran a rational actor?

Dr Emanuele Ottolenghi

Is Iran a rational actor? Ten years of negotiations and sanctions were guided in the West by this assumption. Similarly, in the debate over Iran's intentions if it gets a nuclear weapon, the possibility that Iran will behave rationally and will be deterred is often evoked to suggest that a policy of containment is possible. In his presentation, Dr Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, will address these two facets of this important policy debate and challenge the commonly held understanding of Iran's rationality and the kind of policy consequences it entails.

Venue: Darlington Centre Meeting Room 7, H02 [map]

Note:There is limited seating capacity in Darlington Centre Meeting Room 7. Seating will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Thursday 22 March 2012 - 3:30-4:30

Speaker: Dr Carsten Jensen
Aarhus University

Government responses to fiscal austerity: The effect of institutional fragmentation and partisanship

Dr Carsten JensenHow does the institutional context affect government responses to fiscal austerity? Despite the ‘institutional turn’ in political science, we still possess an incomplete understanding of the relationship between a core aspect of the institutional setting of countries – namely institutional fragmentation – and the policy consequences of fiscal pressure. The article advances research on this question by integrating theories on the blame avoidance effect of institutional fragmentation with theories on the effect of party constituencies on social policies. The result is a set of novel hypotheses about the conditional effects of institutional fragmentation that are tested empirically on quantitative time series data on unemployment protection from 17 advanced democracies. The analyses show that institutional fragmentation is an important determinant of government responses to fiscal austerity, but the effect depends on the partisan composition of the government.

Download Dr Jensen's paper (pdf).

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]

Thursday 26 April 2012 - 3.30-4.30pm
Speaker: Professor Jacqui True
Monash University
Topic: The United Nations and Violence Against Women

Dr Jacqui TrueViolence against women is a major problem in all countries, affecting women in every socio-economic group and at every life stage. Nowhere in the world do women share equal social and economic rights with men or the same access as men to productive resources. From a political economy perspective, sexual violence in recent armed conflicts is an integral part of this pattern of pervasive violence. Yet the United Nations Security Council frames wartime sexual violence as “exceptional”. UN security interventions to protect against mass sexual violence in armed conflict, fail to conceptualize sexual violence during war as part of the continuum of gender-based violence that transgresses familiar soldier-civilian, male-female, state-non-state perpetrator, war-peace boundaries that thrives under conditions of globalized conflict significantly hampering any violence protection efforts. Using the example of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the paper shows how economic and political mechanisms linked to global processes including the UN’s own presence, competition over resources, struggle for economic and political power, and the reproduction of militarised masculinities through war and profit, contribute to sexual violence against women in this conflict-affected society. The paper draws implications from political economy analysis for international peace operations that seek not only to protect against and prosecute perpetrators of this violence but to prevent it in the long run.

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]

Thursday 3 May 2012 - 3.30 - 4.30pm

Speaker: Professor Ian Clark
Aberystwyth University
Topic: The Vulnerable in International Society

Prof Ian ClarkIt might be thought that, like the poor, the vulnerable are always with us. However, this misses a crucial point: vulnerability is not just some objective condition, but is in addition a function of the power exercised by those with a capacity to act and make decisions. People are vulnerable not just to ‘nature’, but additionally to the decisions of the powerful.

The brief of this paper is not the vulnerable and international society, taken as two discrete subjects, but rather the vulnerable in international society, stipulating a constant empirical and moral conjunction between the two. Its argument, in short, is that international society creates and allocates particular distributions of vulnerability. This will be demonstrated with reference to cases such as political violence, climate change, and human movement.

Download Prof. Clark's Paper (pdf).

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]
Thursday 10 May 2012 - 3.30-4.30pm
Speaker: Dr Andy Scerri
RMIT University
Topic: Citizenship as a frame for justice in the context of unsustainable development

Dr Andy ScerriGreen citizenship is often discussed as a normative tool to promote justice in the context of unsustainable development. By contrast, I view it as a partially successful consequence of postindustrial ecomodernization. With four of its five central claims — dissolving nature/culture dualism, breaking down the private and public sphere division, fostering social non-contractualism and non-territorialism — achieved, the greening of citizenship may obstruct or foster opportunities for the fifth: grounding justice in fair use of Ecological Space. It creates a need to address injustice as a diffuse whole-of-society problem that lacks an identifiable class of perpetrators. I examine how some social movements can be said to challenge injustice in such terms.

Download Dr Scerri's paper.

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]
Thursday 24 May 2012 - 3.30-4.30pm

Emeritus Professor Hans-Dieter Klingemann
Social Science Research Centre Berlin (WZB)
Freie Universitaet Berlin
Joint Seminar hosted by the Department of Government and International Relations and the Sydney Democracy Initiative

Topic: Dissatisfied Democrats?

Prof Hans Dieter-KlingemannDo Europeans support democracy as a form of government? And, if they do: Are they satisfied with the way democracy is developing in their own countries? What distinguishes satisfied democrats from dissatisfied ones and is support for democracy on the decline at the same time as the number of ‘dissatisfied democrats’ is on the rise? This paper, inspired by the world-wide evidence presented by Pippa Norris in Critical Citizens (1999) and Democratic Deficit (2010), uses results generated by two cross-section surveys conducted in 43 European countries to answer these questions, comparing countries individually, across the post-communist “East-West” divide, and for two periods of time that stretch, on average, over roughly nine years from 1999 to 2008. Empirical results do not lend themselves to easy generalizations but our results suggest that at least two explanations help to account for the differences that exist in our data. The first explanation stresses economic development, a variable that has been linked with support for democracy many times before, but the second explanation is a new finding. This suggests that differences in the way in which (collective) actors evaluate the performance of democracy as a form of government marks the difference between satisfied democrats on the one hand and dissatisfied democrats on the other.

Download Emeritus Professor Klingemann's paper

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]
Thursday 31 May 2012 - 3.30-4.30pm
Speaker: Dr Ryan Walter
Australian National University
Topic: The National Economic Interest: Sketch for an Intellectual History

Dr Ryan WalterThis paper indicates how a history of the national economic interest might be written and then takes some provisional steps in this direction. The central premise is that it is necessary to suspend the contemporary assumption that national wealth and national power are separate phenomena, for this step enables this presumption to be treated as the product of an intellectual process that can be investigated historically. With this point in mind, attention turns to consider the forms of state counsel in which the strength-wealth nexus was elaborated in early modern Britain, and how this nexus and the counsels it supported came to be contested by Adam Smith and David Ricardo.

Dr Walter's presentation will be followed by an Insights 2012 Inaugural Lecture by Professor John Keane (Sydney Democracy Initiative and Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney) entitled ‘Silence, Power, Catastrophe: New Reasons Why Media and Democracy Matter in the Early Years of the Twenty-First Century’.

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]
Thursday 7 June 2012 - 3.30-4.30pm
Speaker: Dr Jennifer Lees-Marshment
The University of Auckland
Topic: Political marketing and political leadership: leading through partnership

Dr Jennifer Lees-Marshment This presentation will report the results from comparative study including 100 in depth interviews with political elites about political marketing and discuss the implications of political marketing for leadership. Politicians often become out of touch and marooned on Planet Politics and lose popularity, so need to follow the market to some extent, but using marketing need not prevent leadership. Not only is just following the latest poll or focus groups sometimes seen as anti-democratic, it does not always win. Leaders can use marketing to achieve change and progress, stay in touch without just following public opinion and respond in a range of ways to market demand. Furthermore, there is a sense of a changing relationship with the public where politicians work more in partnership with citizens; not ignoring or lamely following their demands, but combining public input and leadership expertise to create workable solutions.

Venue: Darlington Centre Boardroom, H02 [map]