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Department of Sociology


Lent 2019


9. ‘Language Policy and National Politics: Reflections on the Rise of Israeli "New Right" and the Erasure of Arabic as an Official Language’

Thursday 17th January 2019 | 5pm | Seminar Room 1, Simon Sainsbury Centre (Judge Business School)

Yonatan Mendel is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Yonatan Mendel is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and the Director of Manarat: The Center for Jewish-Arab Relations at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. His research interests include the sociology of language, language policy in Israel/Palestine and more generally in the Middle East, the politics of Arabic-Hebrew translation, and the status and history of the Arabic language in Israel/Palestine. Mendel is the author of The Creation of Israeli Arabic: Security and Political Consideration in the Making of Arabic Studies in Jewish Schools (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), co-author (with Ronald Ranta) of From the Arab Other to the Israeli Self: Palestinian Culture in the Making of Israeli National Identity (2016, Routledge), and co-editor (with Abeer AlNajjar) of Language, Politics and Society in the Middle East: Essays in Honour of Yasir Suleiman (2018, Edinburgh University Press). Mendel is also the deputy editor of Maktoob, a series of books dedicated to the translation of Arabic literature into Hebrew, which is based on a bi-national and bi-lingual model.

10. 'Fear and Politics in Divided Societies: Assessing the Foundations of Political Behaviour in Lebanon'

Monday 4th March 2019 | 5pm | Judge Business School, Sainsbury Wing (rooms TBC)

Professor Melani Cammett, Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs in the Department of Government and chair of the Harvard Academy of International and Area Studies at Harvard.

She holds a secondary faculty appointment in the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. Cammett's books include Compassionate Communalism: Welfare and Sectarianism in Lebanon (Cornell University Press 2014), which won the American Political Science Association (APSA) Giovanni Sartori Book Award and the Honorable Mention for the APSA Gregory Luebbert Book Award; A Political Economy of the Middle East (co-authored with Ishac Diwan, Westview Press 2015); The Politics of Non-State Social Welfare in the Global South (co-edited with Lauren Morris MacLean, Cornell University Press, 2014), which received the Honorable Mention for the ARNOVA book award; and Globalization and Business Politics in North Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2007). Her current research explores governance and social service provision, identity politics and long-term historical roots of development trajectories, primarily in the Middle East. Cammett has published numerous articles in academic and policy journals, consults for development policy organizations, and is the recipient of various fellowships and awards. She currently serves as a Commissioner on the Lancet Commission on Syria.

Much contemporary research on political behavior in the Middle East and other developing regions emphasizes the role of clientelism in structuring elections and politics. Yet there is good reason to think that other factors beyond clientelist transactions shape political behavior in important ways. In particular, we focus on the political effects of fear in the context of instability, violence and the erosion of political order - a set of conditions that is unfortunately increasingly common throughout the Middle East and North Africa and in other developing regions. What impact does this state of affairs have on political attitudes and behavior?

To compare the relative importance of fear and promises of protection against threats by violent extremists to a range of other possible motivations to support politicians, in fall 2017 we carried out a nationally representative survey in Lebanon with two embedded experimental components. These include an emotional memory task, which was designed to elicit fear by asking respondents to describe what makes them afraid about the current political situation, followed by a conjoint experiment, in which respondents choose a political candidate from a pair of descriptions randomly varying on a number of attributes. In the paper, we focus on several hypotheses, which are detailed in an EGAP pre-analysis plan. In particular, we test whether treated respondents, or those who have been primed to feel fear, express more support for candidates who pledge to protect co-religionists or in-group members and express no or less support for candidates who pledge protection for out-group members, especially when the out-group has antagonistic relations with the in-group. In addition, we assess whether treated respondents are more likely to vote for and take part in demonstrations for in-group candidates.

To preview our preliminary results, we find that fear and insecurity are not major drivers of political support while shared religious identity with candidates is a more compelling motivation. Even when primed with fear, politicians' promises to protect the in-group do not increase support for the candidate in question and, in most cases, decrease it. While the fear prime appears to increase support for coreligionist candidates, esp. among Shi'a, the effects are not strong. A manipulation check suggests that the priming experiment had a small but statistically significant effect on self-reported emotions, implying that the experiment had the intended effects. In the proposed paper, we aim to carry out more extensive analyses and to probe the possible interpretation of these findings, including with analyses of open-ended responses that we have not yet explored. Given that the baseline category of politicians' appeals to protect in-group members was a commitment to protect national security, it is possible that respondents prioritize national rather than narrower, in-group, protection – a finding that is interesting in and of itself in an age when intergroup tensions are at an all-time high in the region. In addition, the results may indicate that the politics of fear in conflict-affected societies is normalized, which has important methodological implications for designs manipulating emotions.

11. 'Poverty, unemployment and eviction in America'

Friday 15th March 2019 | 5pm | Judge Business School, Sainsbury Wing (rooms TBC)

Matthew Desmond is a Professor in Princeton's Department of Sociology. After receiving his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he joined the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow. He is the author of four books, including Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016), which won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Carnegie Medal, and PEN / John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. The principal investigator of The Eviction Lab, Desmond's research focuses on poverty in America, city life, housing insecurity, public policy, racial inequality, and ethnography. He is the recipient of a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award, and the William Julius Wilson Early Career Award. A Contributing Writer for the New York Times Magazine, Desmond was listed in 2016 among the Politico 50, as one of "fifty people across the country who are most influencing the national political debate."

Michaelmas 2018




1. 'How to deal with public health crises in humanitarian and conflict zones'

Friday 5th October 2018 | 5pm | Seminar Room 1, Simon Sainsbury Centre, Judge Business School

Professor Paul Spiegel (Johns Hopkins University, Director of the Centre for Humanitarian Health) and Dr Oliver Morgan (WHO)

Dr Spiegel is a physician by training, is internationally recognized for his research on preventing and responding to complex humanitarian emergencies. Before becoming Center for Humanitarian Health Director, Paul was the deputy director of the Division of Programme Management and Support Services for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Prior to joining the UN in 2002, Paul worked as a medical epidemiologist in the International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He also worked as a medical coordinator with Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins du Monde in refugee emergencies, as well as a consultant for numerous organizations.

Dr. Oliver Morgan is the Director of the Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment Department in the WHO Health Emergencies Program. From 2007 through 2016, Dr. Morgan worked for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during which time he held critical leadership positions in the Ebola response between November 2014 and February 2016 (CDC Atlanta Ebola Response Incident Manger and CDC Country Director in Sierra Leone).

From March 2010 to October 2014, Dr. Morgan was the CDC Country Director in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Morgan was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at CDC from 2007 to 2009 with the International Emerging Infections Program, during which time he conducted projects in Thailand, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, and Guatemala. Before joining CDC, Dr. Morgan worked for the UK Health Protection Agency, leading epidemiological investigations of outbreaks (enteric, vaccine preventable, hospital acquired, zoonotic, respiratory, and sexually acquired infections), chemical and radiation exposure incidents, terrorist bombings in London, natural disasters, and humanitarian civil conflicts.

Dr. Morgan has also worked as a consultant to WHO/PAHO in several countries. Dr. Morgan’s academic achievements include a doctorate in epidemiology from Imperial College London and extensive publication in peer reviewed journals and reference books. 

2. 'Behavioural Government: Debiasing the policy-making procress'

Thursday October 11th 2018 | 5pm | Cripps Auditorium, Magdalene College

Mark Egan (Behavioural Insights Team)

Mark is an Advisor working in the Behavioural Insights Team. His projects include examining the effect of cognitive biases on government decision-making and the behavioural factors which affect non urgent attendances at hospital emergency departments. Mark holds a PhD in Behavioural Science from the University of Stirling.

Governments are increasingly using behavioural insights to design their policies and services. Applying these insights means governments adopting a more realistic view of human behaviour by taking into account how cognitive biases affect the behaviour of citizens.

'Behavioural Government' describes how government officials are themselves affected by the same biases they try to address in others, and offers practical solutions for overcoming these biases.



3. 'Designing and implementing public policies: an insider’s perspective'

Wednesday 17th October 2018 | 5pm | Lecture Theatre 4, Simon Sainsbury Centre, Judge Business School

Dame Professor Carol Black (Principal, Newnham College) and Donna Ward (Director of the Children, Families and Disadvantage Directorate, Department for Work and Pensions)

Professor Dame Carol Black DBE, FRCP, FMedSci is Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge and Expert Adviser on Health and Work to NHS England and Public Health England. She chairs the board of Think Ahead, the Government’s fast-stream training programme for Mental Health Social Workers, the Board of Nuffield Health and Corporate Services Ltd and the Institute of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science. She is a member of the Bevan Commission on health in Wales, the board of UK Active, Rand Europe’s Council of Advisers, the Strategy Board for the Defence National Rehabilitation Centre, and the Advisory Board of Step up to Serve.

As Principal of Newnham College, Dame Carol is on several committees in Cambridge University, for example the Equality and Diversity Committee, the Advisory Board of the Centre for Science and Public Policy, and the Health and Wellbeing Working Group, and she chairs the Colleges Committee’s Working Group on Bursaries for Home and EU undergraduates.  She is a Deputy Vice-Chancellor, patron of the Women’s Leadership Centre in the Judge Business School, and a member of the University’s Leadership Network. Dame Carol has compiled three independent reviews for the UK Government. As National Director for Health and Work (2006-11) she completed in 2008 a review of the health of the population of working age, which led to a revised medical certificate of sickness; and in November 2011 she completed as Co-Chair an independent review of sickness absence in Britain whose recommendations have mostly been put in place.  Her latest independent review, of employment outcomes of addiction to drugs or alcohol, or obesity, and the benefits system, was published in December 2016 and is gradually being implemented.

Donna Ward is Policy Director of Children, Families and Disadvantage in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Donna has 20 years’ of policy and analytical experience on Government, having worked in Treasury and DfE, as well as DWP. Donna has worked on a wide range of social policy issues, including child poverty, education, health and work and pensions. Donna studied Economics in London and Cambridge.


4. 'The Debate about RCTs in Development is over. We won. They lost'

Friday 19th October 2018 | 5pm | Lecture Theatre 4, Simon Sainsbury Centre, Judge Business School

Professor Lant Pritchett (Harvard University / Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University)

Lant Pritchett is a Professor of the ent where he is working on a large research project on how to improve sysPractice of International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School. He will be moving in 2018 to Oxford's Blavatnik School of Governmtems of basic education in developing countries.

There has been a debate in development economics over the last 20 years as some claimed the use of RCTs as a tool for independent impact evaluation would significantly improve development practice and hence development. While right about the methodological claims about the superiority of randomization to produce cleaner estimates of the LATE (local average treatment effect) of projects and programs, this, in and of itself, does not change development practice. All of the five claims needed to sustain a positive model in which RCT/IIE has a major positive impact are demonstrably false. The proponents of RCTs have responded to losing the first round decisively by changing significantly both their claims and their practice.


5. ‘How to rig an election - And how to better safeguard democracy’ 

Thursday 25th October 2018 | 5pm | Sinyi Seminar Room, Simon Sainsbury Centre, Judge Business School

Professor Nic Cheeseman (Professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham) and Dr Brian Klass (Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics)

Contrary to what is commonly believed, authoritarian regimes that hold elections are generally able to remain in power longer than those that refuse to allow the populace to vote.

Calling upon first-hand experiences from elections in Brazil, India, Nigeria, Russia, and the United States, Dr Klaas and Professor Cheeseman expose the limitations of national elections as a means of promoting democratisation, revealing the six essential strategies that dictators use to undermine the electoral process in order to guarantee victory for themselves. They then reflect on how international actors, policy makers and political leaders can respond to better safeguard democracy.

Their book, How to Rig an Election, was the first to be used as the front cover of the Spectator magazine, and has been described as “Clear, punchy, and potentially revolutionary” by Michela Wrong, author of Our Turn to Eat, and “essential reading for everyone who wants to get democracy right again” by AC Grayling, author of War.

Signed copies of How to Rig an Election will be available at the event.

Dr Brian Klaas (@brian_klaas) is a Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics and Co-Author of How to Rig an Election. Dr Klaas is a former US campaign adviser and frequent political analyst of US domestic and foreign policy in mainstream media outlets, and is a columnist for the Washington Post. In 2013, Dr. Klaas published The Despot’s Accomplice. 

Professor Nic Cheeseman (@fromagehomme) is Professor of Democracy and International Development at the University of Birmingham and the author of Democracy in Africa (2015). As well as being the former editor of the Journal of African Affairs, the #1 ranked journal in Area Studies, Professor Cheeseman is the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, the Oxford Dictionary of African Politics, and the co-editor of the Handbook of Kenyan Politics. Professor Cheeseman regularly appears in the media discussing electoral politics and democracy, including the BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, and The Times.



6. BOOK LAUNCH: ‘Someone to Talk to’ (Oxford University Press) – ‘Loneliness, social isolation and public policy’.

Tuesday 6th November 2018 | 5pm | Judge Business School, Sainsbury Wing (rooms TBC)

Professor Mario Luis Small (Harvard University, Department of Sociology)

Mario L. Small, Ph.D., Grafstein Family Professor at Harvard University, is the author of award-winning books and articles on networks, poverty, organizations, culture, methods, neighborhoods, institutions, and other topics. He is currently using large-scale administrative data to understand isolation in cities, studying how people use their networks to meet their needs, and exploring the epistemological foundations of qualitative research. His latest book is Someone To Talk To (Oxford). A study of how people decide whom to approach when seeking support, the book is an inquiry into human nature, a critique of network analysis, and a discourse on the role of qualitative research in the big-data era.

Someone to Talk to: Overview

When people are facing difficulties, they often feel the need for a confidant-a person to vent to or a sympathetic ear with whom to talk things through. How do they decide on whom to rely? In theory, the answer seems obvious: if the matter is personal, they will turn to a spouse, a family member, or someone close. In practice, what people actually do often belies these expectations. In Someone To Talk To, Mario L. Small follows a group of graduate students as they cope with stress, overwork, self-doubt, failure, relationships, children, health care, and poverty. He unravels how they decide whom to turn to for support. And he then confirms his findings based on representative national data on adult Americans. Small shows that rather than consistently rely on their "strong ties," Americans often take pains to avoid close friends and family, as these relationships are both complex and fraught with expectations. In contrast, they often confide in "weak ties," as the need for understanding or empathy trumps their fear of misplaced trust. In fact, people may find themselves confiding in acquaintances and even strangers unexpectedly, without having reflected on the consequences. Someone To Talk To reveals the often counter-intuitive nature of social support, helping us understand questions as varied as why a doctor may hide her depression from friends, how a teacher may come out of the closet unintentionally, why people may willingly share with others their struggle to pay the rent, and why even competitors can be among a person's best confidants. Amid a growing wave of big data and large-scale network analysis, Small returns to the basic questions of who we connect with, how, and why, upending decades of conventional wisdom on how we should think about and analyze social networks.

For more information about Mario please click here.

7. 'The opportunities and challenges of using case studies to inform policy'

Thursday 8th November 2018 | 5pm | Judge Business School, Sainsbury Wing (rooms TBC)

Professor Michael Woolcock is Lead Social Scientist with the World Bank's Development Research Group, and a (part-time) Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

He is the author or co-author of over 80 journal articles and chapters, as well as 11 books, including the forthcoming The Case for Case Studies: Integrating Scholarship and Practice in International Development (Cambridge University Press; edited, with Jennifer Widner and Daniel Ortega Nieto). In 2004 he co-founded the World Bank's global 'Justice for the Poor' initiative; from 2006-2009 he was the founding Research Director of the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester; in 2012 he co-founded the 'Building State Capability' program at Harvard's Center for International Development; and in 2015-17 he was a founding member of the World Bank's first Knowledge and Research Hub, based in Malaysia. He is a co-recipient of the 'best book' prize (2012) and 'best article' prize (2014) from the American Sociological Association's section on Economic Development. He is on the editorial board of numerous journals, and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of UNESCO's largest research program (Management of Social Transformations). An Australian national, he has an MA and PhD in comparative-historical sociology from Brown University.


8. ‘Punch & Judy Politics: An Insiders' Guide to Prime Minister’s Questions’

Thursday 15th November 2018 | 5pm | Judge Business School, Sainsbury Wing (rooms TBC)

Ayesha Hazarika and Tom Hamilton

Ayesha Hazarika MBE was a special adviser to Gordon Brown, Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband from 2007 to 2015. She is now a much sought after political commentator and broadcaster. She is a columnist for the London Evening Standard and The Scotsman and writes for many other national publications. She frequently appears on television and radio including the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Newsnight, Sky News, Good Morning Britain, LBC and CNN where she’s a regular pundit on domestic and international affairs. Ayesha is also a stand-up comedian and last year completed a successful nationwide tour of her show State of the Nation about power, politics and how we lost the plot. Her first book was published in May. ‘Punch and Judy Politics’ is a history and insider’s guide to the art of Prime Minister’s Questions.

Tom Hamilton worked as a policy specialist, speechwriter and political adviser for ten years after completing a PhD in theology and having no idea what to do with it. He was head of research for the Labour Party and helped to prepare Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman and Jeremy Corbyn for PMQs between 2010 and 2016, spending more of his life pretending to be David Cameron than he ever expected. As a Labour staffer, he worked on three general election campaigns, none of which Labour won.