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Juniorprofessur Politikwissenschaftliche Forschungsmethoden


Research methods are the tools of political science for answering empirical questions in all subfields of the discipline. In teaching, the assistant professorship introduces students to quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. In research, the focus is on comparative research on political attitudes and behavior. Current research topics include political participation, youth and politics, direct democracy, and election forecasting. Methodologically, the application of experimental and quasi-experimental approaches in individual and aggregate data analysis plays a prominent role. Furthermore, a further methodological focus lies on primary data collection through population surveys.


Ongoing projects

Legacies of democratic transition. Explaining the success of the populist radical right in eastern Germany

For many years and unlike in other established democracies, there was no viable radical right party in the Federal Republic of Germany. This changed with the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), which became the first populist radical right party to gain relevance at the national level. The project is based on the premise that the rise of the AfD in Germany represents a divide between the country's east and west that also takes its root in how the country's former territorial division was ended. The AfD has regularly obtained its strongest results in eastern Germany, i.e., what was the former communist-authoritarian German Democratic Republic. The project seeks to answer the following research question: What role do experiences of political and economic transition in the 1990s play in electoral behavior in eastern Germany today? To provide answers to this question, the project is devoted to developing new theoretical perspectives on how experiences of democratic transition shape citizens' voting behavior today and testing these empirically on both aggregate and individual-level data. The project is funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation.

Polarization through and in referendums: mapping polarization within and beyond the party system

The project examines how polarization develops through and in referendums. Direct democracy is praised for allowing citizens to put new issues on the agenda, but referendums are also criticized for reducing complex issues to a binary decision-making situation. Direct democracy can deepen existing political divisions by forcing a vote on a controversial issue. Moreover, referendums may even create new divisions by forming opposing camps on the basis of issues about which citizens have previously given little thought. The project thus introduces a new, potentially important but previously overlooked determinant of polarization into the debate, contributing to the literatures on polarization and direct democracy. The project explores this set of issues at two levels of analysis - systemic and individual - using secondary aggregate and individual data as well as collecting its own data. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation under the Emmy Noether Program.


Completed projects

Youth Election Study 2021

The project follows up on the Youth Election Study 2019 by surveying participants in Brandenburg and Saxony again in the aftermath of the 2021 federal election. For this purpose, we have over 5000 e-mail addresses provided by the respondents at our disposal. In addition, we will conduct another register-based survey in Berlin at the same time. In the federal state of Berlin, state and local elections are expected to be held simultaneously with the federal elections. For the latter, a reduced voting age of 16 years applies. Thus, some young people will also experience disenfranchisement (in the national and state elections) at the same time as they participate in their first-ever election (in the municipal election). Among other things, the project examines the consequences of this particular constellation, which is not entirely unusual in the context of heterogeneous voting age regulations nationwide.

Workshop: "Actors without arena? Bringing the political behaviour of youths and immigrants into the mainstream“

Fridays for Future, Erdogan supporters on the streets, or junior elections for children and youths - these are just a few examples of how people get involved in the political system even though they do not (yet) have full voting rights due to their age, citizenship or both. However, due to their relatively small group size and relative lack of voice, they have been mostly overlooked by policymakers as well as researchers until now. However, young people and migrants' political participation will continue to gain importance due to the increase in transnational migration movements and demographic change. The conference targets political scientists and sociologists, and researchers from other disciplines. It aims to connect them across disciplinary boundaries, as research on the political participation of young people and people with a migration background is still located at the margins of different disciplines.


About 6.3 million eligible German voters in the 2017 federal election had a migration background - that is, they or at least one parent was born abroad. Their overall share, currently about 10 percent of the eligible voting population, will continue to increase in the following years. Nevertheless, little is known about the distribution and thus the importance of eligible voters with a migration background. In the structural data published by the Federal Election Commissioner for each federal election, only the proportion of foreigners at the constituency level is available. However, data on the distribution of citizens with direct or indirect experience of migration are indispensable for recording citizens' representation and potential influence. Therefore, we want to determine the number of eligible voters with a migration background and their share in the voting population approximately at the constituency level, for the first time, with the help of the micro census surveys 2018 and 2017 as well as the census 2011. Together with Citizens For Europe, we plan to publish a report for the 2021 federal election.

Workshop: "Under pressure: Electoral and non-electoral participation in polarizing times“

Increasing polarization combined with the rise of new lines of conflict and the strengthening of radical, often populist parties currently characterize a fundamental restructuring of politics in Europe. These political conflicts are reflected in changes in the party system and electoral behavior and have an impact on and are driven by mobilization and participation in non-electoral arenas: in protests (online and offline) or participation in referendums. The workshop brought together young and established researchers from different sub-disciplines of political sociology who deal with polarization in electoral and non-electoral political arenas in a variety of ways.

Youth Election Study 2019

The project evaluated the consequences of lowering the voting age by surveying the political attitudes and behaviors of eligible 16- and 17-year-olds (in Brandenburg) in two immediately neighboring states and comparing them with those of non-eligible youth of the same age (in Saxony). The core of the project was a register-based online survey after the September 2019 state elections in Brandenburg and Saxony, in which 6699 young people participated. The project report, published on the 50th anniversary of the amendment to the German Basic Law lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, received considerable resonance and was, for instance, picked up by the Süddeutsche Zeitung and Tagesthemen.

You may, you may not, you may. . . Does lowering the voting age unintentionally cause frustration among young voters?

The study surveyed young people from Schleswig-Holstein about the 2017 state elections in Schleswig-Holstein, the 2017 federal elections, and the 2018 local elections in Schleswig-Holstein. Schleswig-Holstein was deliberately chosen for this survey because there was a state election (with voting age 16) just a few months before the federal election (with voting age 18), which in turn was just a few months before the local election on May 8, 2018 (with voting age 16). The selected population was chosen so that we have three groups that are relatively similar in age but at the same time hold very different voting ages in these three elections. Data collection was conducted via a register-based online survey.