WZB - Berlin Social Science Center

New research

Populism is booming, left, right, and at the center of national parliaments, in coalitions with mainstream parties or as wildly successful challenges to the political status quo. Populist parties’ success stems in part from their anti-elitist rhetoric. But what happens when populists are elected into the establishment they claim to oppose? New research by Werner Krause and Aiko Wagner reveals how the reasons voters elect populists shift depending on how established the populist parties are.

A small wooden figure stands on a platform in front of a crowd of similiar puppets, apparently making a speech to them.
RapidEye / iStock / Getty Images Plus

New research by Alexandros Tokhi investigates the role of power dynamics in authoritarian regimes and how these affect the likelihood of non-proliferation treaty violation.

On April 9, 2019, the Berlin Landgericht  dismissed a claim filed by the AfD fraction in the Thuringian state parliament against the WZB. The AfD fraction had attempted to force the WZB to abstain from making statements that the party viewed as contravening personality rights. The court reasoned that the study in question was a piece of academic research and thus could not infringe upon the fraction’s personality rights in any way.

Hungersnot in Äthiopien, Dürre, Klimawandel
picture alliance / Ricardo Herrgott

A new study by Marc Helbling and Daniel Meierrieks shows that climate change refugees are accepted by the public in Germany at a far higher rate than economic refugees. 

New publication

Where do we not observe transformations? Political, social, and economic change is a complex and omnipresent phenomenon. By bringing together contributions from a wide range of researchers, the newly published Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation, co-edited by WZB director Wolfgang Merkel, sheds a fresh, multidisciplinary light on transformation research.

New study

The outbreak of the highly contagious SARS virus in 2003 gave rise to a norm conflict between China and the WHO. With both parties fearing a backlash, the conflict was never openly acknowledged but exposed in their behavior. In his new study, Christian Kreuder-Sonnen uses this case to exemplify the importance of studying norm contestation that is visible in actions, not words. This more hidden form of “behavioral contestation” had decisive implications for later debates about norms in global health.

Forthcoming study

Sidestepping charity fundraisers in the street, pretending not to be home when they come calling, ignoring online pleas for donations…people like to think of themselves in generous terms, but in reality, we often go out of our way to avoid being asked for money. A study by WZB researchers Maja Adena and Steffen Huck gets to the bottom of how preserving our self-image influences our charitable giving, and what strategies charities can use to maximize their chances of gaining donations.

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The WZB Berlin Social Science Center investigates fundamental societal issues. Our focus is on education and work, markets and choice, migration, democracy and autocracy, international politics and law. At the WZB researchers from various disciplines work together – mainly from sociology, political science, economics, law and psychology.


WZB in the media

Deutschlandfunk, 27 May
Süddeutsche Zeitung, 27 May

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