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The Toolbox of Political Scientist

Eleven questions addressed to Jun.-Prof. Dr. Tom Mannewitz, holder of the Junior Professorship in Political Science Research Methods since October 2014

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Tom Mannewitz (27) holds the Junior Professorship in Political Science Research Methods at the Faculty of Humanities since October 2014. In eleven answers he gives the readers of “University News“ an insight into his career, his goals and his time in Chemnitz.

What do we actually understand by the term “political science research methods”?

Political science research methods are for a political scientist what a toolbox is for craftsmen: a collection of instruments that allow him to do his job. However, our instruments are intangible. They are focused on teaching “standards of good practice“ in research, data collection and data analysis techniques. What is more, the sub-discipline raises awareness for basic research logical decisions, epistemological problems in the course of empirical project and their effect on interpretations of results.

TU Chemnitz is for me as a junior professor the right choice, because…

… here I appreciate the future opportunities for my research and teaching. Large universities often narrow the individual scope of development. Moreover, I feel myself extremely comfortable in the midst of my colleagues.

Could you say a few words about your academic career?

After my high-school graduation I have completed a B.A. in Politics and Communication Science in Dresden and subsequently written my dissertation (”Left-wing extremist parties in Europe after 1990“).I have then been working for one and a half years as a research assistant (here in Chemnitz), interrupted by a twelve-month postdoc fellowship, which I used to complete my habilitation treatise (“Political culture and constitutional democracy“). Now, I am here.

Describe your study time in no more than 15 words.

Reading – Reading – Reading – Parties in shared apartments – Low budget vacations – Copying – Test anxiety – Computer problems – Festivals – Internships – Marathon debut – SLUB – Relocations – Train journeys – Lack of money

Did you have role models during your studies who encouraged you to pursue a scientific career?

Sure, one or two persons had a more or less inspiring influence, but on the whole, I have just made my hobby my job. That I am to remain faithful to the university, I realized only after studying…

What advice would you give to young students and graduates?

You won’t succeed in anything, if you lack the passion.

What would you like to achieve in the teaching for the future?

As a political scientist, if you are aware of only a few research methods you are significantly limited in your choice of research topics. My goal is to increase the degrees of students’ freedom when they look for potential projects. Not only should they know what variety of methods exist, but also when to apply and how to combine them with other methods. Hopefully, methodology will lose its reputation of a bone-dry complementary science thereby, but I do not lend myself to illusions…

Which impact do you make in the research at TU Chemnitz?

On my desk there are currently my habilitation treatise, which will soon go to press and a stack of unfinished papers. After having finished them, I want to initiate an externally funded project, that in a standardized an comparative manner evaluates the methodological quality of indices. Being widely used, e.g. in the study of democracy, they are relevant not least for national and international development policies. The evaluation instrument should, to some extent, serve as a decision aid in selecting one of the indices and contribute to an improved measurement of such complex phenomena as democracy, poverty or statehood.

There are around 45.000 professors at German universities. What sets you apart from others?

Honestly, I don’t think that I feature any qualities that are not to be found with other university lecturers. However, I am not sure if anyone else is capable of playing a nose flute.

Which place do you show your guests the most in Chemnitz?

Everybody wants to see the „Nischel“… But I prefer to show the Campus, which has a modern appearance and at the same time is manageable. I find it appealing.

How do you play a part in the life of the city?

I guess, first and foremost I benefit from city life, but not the other way round. So there is still room for improvement. However, my wife and I have sold our car and now frequently use the bus or the train – maybe that is the first step?

Further information about the professorship at:

(Translation: Nataliia Boiko)

Mario Steinebach

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