Recent blog posts from around the School

Blog: In case you missed it: the Local Government (Independence) Bill

Blog: In case you missed it: the Local Government (Independence) Bill
Description
Written by Chris Game. It was partly the timing. In combination, the suddenly increased likelihood of both Scottish independence and a Coalition break-up were bound to eclipse last Friday's scheduled Second Reading of the Local Government (Independence) Bill. It was unfortunate, though. After all, local government independence would be a pretty big deal too, wouldn't it?
Date:
Tuesday 9th September 2014

Blog: Councils should have the power NOT to tax supermarkets

Blog: Councils should have the power NOT to tax supermarkets
Description
Written by Chris Game. There's no shortage of reasons to dislike supermarkets generally and Tesco in particular – their flimsy carrier bags, their irritating BOGOFs and BOGOHOs (Buy One, Get One Half Off), their unpoliced disabled parking bays, their Everyday Value instant coffee granules. Then there are all the economic, environmental and social reasons – the ones understandably more emphasised in Derby City Council's recent proposal that local authorities be given the power to introduce a levy of 8.5% of rateable value on large retail outlets: a supermarket or Tesco tax, as it was instantly labelled by the media.
Date:
Monday 1st September 2014

Blog: On Reporting the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Blog: On Reporting the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
Description
Written by Dr Kamala Imranli-Lowe and Dr Galina Yemelianova. In early August 2014 the British media reported an escalation in the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This has brought the conflict, which has been less covered since the cease-fire of May 1994, back to the media's attention. This blog is intended to shed some light on the role of the British, and the wider Western, media in shaping particular attitudes among the public, as well as policy-makers involved in the negotiation process over this conflict.
Date:
Monday 18th August 2014

Blog: Predictably Unpredictable: The 2014 parliamentary elections in Slovenia

Blog: Predictably Unpredictable: The 2014 parliamentary elections in Slovenia
Description
Written by Dr Alenka Krašovec, University of Ljubljana and Dr Tim Haughton, University of Birmingham. Parliamentary elections and party politics in Slovenia are becoming predictable in their unpredictability. For the first two decades of the country's independence party politics was largely stable. True, in the second decade the once mighty force of Slovene politics, Liberal Democracy, saw its support drop, the Social Democrats emerged as a powerful force, but only really for one election in 2008, and there were a stream of new parties...
Date:
Monday 28th July 2014

Blog: From repression to co-production with citizens: Why we need behaviour change in healthcare

Blog: From repression to co-production with citizens: Why we need behaviour change in healthcare
Description
Written by Jörgen Tholstrup. What's the mission of health care? I've been working as a physician and gastroenterologist both in Denmark and Sweden for more than 30 years. Over time, I've become more and more puzzled about our healthcare system and how otherwise responsible human beings can tolerate the way that common behaviourial rules are suspended when you access healthcare.
Date:
Monday 21st July 2014

Blog: Masters students on Kenya study tour 2014

Blog: Masters students on Kenya study tour 2014
Description
Written by Freyja Oddsdottir. For the past couple of years, the IDD has organised a field research trip to assist IDD Masters students with the logistics of field research, which is an optional component of their MSc degree. Last year, the destination was Kerala in South India. In June this year, a group of 16 students travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, along with Dr Jonathan Fisher and Freyja Oddsdottir, where they stayed for three weeks to conduct field research for their dissertation.
Date:
Monday 21st July 2014

Blog: A view from Barnet's Chris Naylor: how the class of 2014 are responding to perma-austerity

Blog: A view from Barnet's Chris Naylor: how the class of 2014 are responding to perma-austerity
Description
Written by Chris Naylor. Two weeks ago I gave the lunchtime pep talk to a dozen young hopeful students each vying for a coveted place on Barnet's graduate programme. Furiously clever, ambitious for Barnet and public services more generally – I didn't envy those with the task of making a final selection. Like the alumni who have come through the Council's programme before them, many of whom a decade on, as senior managers, continue to make a profound contribution to the success of the borough, the Class of '14 will truly be the 21st Century Public Servants.
Date:
Tuesday 15th July 2014

Blog: How can the 21st century public servant survive an era of perma-austerity?

Blog: How can the 21st century public servant survive an era of perma-austerity?
Description
Written by Catherine Mangan. We are launching the first theme from our 21st Century Public Servant project – the need to survive a seemingly unending period of austerity – to coincide with the Local Government Association conference, where austerity is a central theme. Our research with local government and other public service delivery organisations found that 'perma-austerity' is both inhibiting and catalysing change, as organisations struggle to balance short-term cost-cutting and redundancies with a strategic vision for change.
Date:
Monday 14th July 2014

Blog: 21st century public servant: the discussion phase

Blog: 21st century public servant: the discussion phase
Description
Written by Catherine Needham. This post is based on a provocation which I posed at INLOGOV's recent Summer Symposium. It is an attempt to move on the conversation about engagement between local government, other public institutions, citizens and communities.
Date:
Tuesday 8th July 2014

Blog: What happened to the NOC councils after the May elections: a moan and a puff

Blog: What happened to the NOC councils after the May elections: a moan and a puff
Description
Written by Chris Game. 'Five Days in May': the time it took in 1940 for Churchill to manoeuvre the War Cabinet into a five-year World War, in 2010 to form Britain's first post-war peacetime coalition – and in 2014 for Tower Hamlets LBC to announce its local election results. OK, I've exaggerated – it was actually 119 hours after the polls closed, so only 4.96 days, but still not good, even discounting the malpractice allegations.
Date:
Monday 30th June 2014

Blog: Politics shape services; and services shape politics

Blog: Politics shape services; and services shape politics
Description
Written by Professor Richard Batley. In governance circles, service delivery is often discussed as if it raised common issues across service sectors as diverse as health, education, water and sanitation. Yet within sectors, debates about governance issues are quite distinct.
Date:
Wednesday 25th June 2014

Blog: Strengthening democracy and participation: routes to re-connection and engagement - a provocation

Blog: Strengthening democracy and participation: routes to re-connection and engagement - a provocation
Description
Written by Catherine Durose. This post is based on a provocation which I posed at INLOGOV's recent Summer Symposium. It is an attempt to move on the conversation about engagement between local government, other public institutions, citizens and communities.
Date:
Friday 20th June 2014

Blog: Re-valuing The Public

Blog: Re-valuing The Public
Description
Written by Teresa L. Córdova. When we are on the ground getting the policies implemented, or perhaps even making the policies, we focus on doing what we can get done. One of our first questions is, "what are the constraints, the limits of what is possible (or probable), given current fiscal conditions, regulatory structures, or political dynamics."
Date:
Friday 20th June 2014

Blog: Building communities to bridge the gap

Blog: Building communities to bridge the gap
Description
Written by Daniel Goodwin. England is around halfway through significant reductions in public expenditure and heading for a 'new normal' at much lower levels, whilst seeing demographic and other pressures rise. Local Government is currently projected to see a £10.5bn funding drop between 2010and 2020.
Date:
Friday 13th June 2014

Blog: Democracy in The Circle: a route to reconnection and engagement?

Blog: Democracy in The Circle: a route to reconnection and engagement?
Description
Written by Frank Hendriks. One of the theme's at INLOGOV's 2014 summer symposium is "Strengthening democracy and participation: routes to re-connection and engagement." One of the possible routes is tellingly sketched in Dave Eggers's recent novel The Circle (2013).
Date:
Friday 13th June 2014

Blog: Towards a people-centred language of demand management

Blog: Towards a people-centred language of demand management
Description
Written by Gavin Jones. I'm regularly asked to make presentations to groups of people (the last one being to 22 Deputy Lord Lieutenants!) to set out the issues and opportunities facing local government in the light of increasingly painful budget cuts. Of the pictorial slides I use to tell the story, the one guaranteed to have the greatest impact and make people hold their heads in their hands and mutter depressing words of despair is my 'motivational' slide that alarmingly shows demand outstripping resources at a frightening pace – often known as the '' or 'Map of Misery'.
Date:
Wednesday 11th June 2014

Saving Humans blog: Why transitional justice proponents say the field is important: The risk of leaving things as they are

Saving Humans blog: Why transitional justice proponents say the field is important: The risk of leaving things as they are
Description
Written by Dr Christalla Yakinthou. Continuing on from yesterday, generally, regardless of the focus, TJ presupposes that there is a significant risk in leaving things the way they are, after conflict.
Date:
Friday 6th June 2014

Saving Humans blog: Confronting legacies of violence after conflict: What is Transitional Justice?

Saving Humans blog: Confronting legacies of violence after conflict: What is Transitional Justice?
Description
Written by Dr Christalla Yakinthou. Transitional justice (TJ) is essentially a field that grew around a single question: how do you address the legacy of conflict-related violence and widespread human rights abuses? The first time that we as an international community really had to think about how to address the mess of war and the impact of genocide and what consequently became known as crimes against humanity was of course at the Nuremburg Trials in relation to the holocaust in the wake of World War Two.
Date:
Thursday 5th June 2014

Saving Humans blog: Consultation, Respect, and Inclusivity: DIY Democracy in Turkey

Saving Humans blog: Consultation, Respect, and Inclusivity: DIY Democracy in Turkey
Description
Written by Dr Christalla Yakinthou. Last week marked the first-year anniversary of the Gezi Park protests in Turkey. The following piece reflects on the protests and their meaning.
Date:
Wednesday 4th June 2014

Saving Humans blog: The concept and realities of post-revolution reform in Tunisia

Saving Humans blog: The concept and realities of post-revolution reform in Tunisia
Description
Written by Dr Christalla Yakinthou. Tunisian society has been engaging with both the concept and realities of post-revolution reform for the last three years. As last week's attack at the Tunisian minister of interior's house shows, the process has been hard going.
Date:
Tuesday 3rd June 2014

Blog: Depoliticisation and the Father's Clause in Parliamentary debates

Blog: Depoliticisation and the Father's Clause in Parliamentary debates
Description
Dr Stephen Bates, Dr Laura Jenkins and Fran Amery, use work on in vitro fertilisation to think through depoliticisation. Our article argues that (de)politicisation may occur outside of formal governmental arenas and should not be regarded simply as a form of statecraft. Specifically, we explore in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and the parliamentary debates surrounding the addition and eventual removal of the Father's Clause of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Acts.
Date:
Thursday 29th May 2014

Blog: Building communities to bridge the gap

Blog: Building communities to bridge the gap
Description
Written by Daniel Goodwin. England around halfway through significant reductions in public expenditure and heading for a 'new normal' at much lower levels, whilst seeing demographic and other pressures rise. Local Government is currently projected to see a £10.5bn funding drop between 2010 and 2020. Pressures on services are projected to rise by around £6bn, resulting in a £16.5bn total gap, under-resourcing services by around 30%. This average masks a wide variation – the LGA predicts that some of the poorest areas are projected only to be around 55% funded by 2020, whilst some shire districts will be 100% funded.
Date:
Tuesday 27th May 2014

Saving Humans blog: 'Face-to-Face Encounters of the Diplomatic Kind'

Saving Humans blog: 'Face-to-Face Encounters of the Diplomatic Kind'
Description
Written by Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler. ). In my final blog today, I want to explore the proposition that I am developing at length in my new book that face-to-face encounters between leaders and top-level diplomats hold out the possibility of building trust across the enemy divide.
Date:
Tuesday 27th May 2014

Blog: The Politics of Broken Relationships? Croatia on the Eve of the European Parliament Elections

Blog: The Politics of Broken Relationships? Croatia on the Eve of the European Parliament Elections
Description
Written by Dr Kevin Deegan-Krause and Dr Tim Haughton. A short walk from the Croatian parliament is the Museum of Broken Relationships. Zagreb's quirkiest museum displays countless artefacts donated by couples from around the world symbolizing the end of their love. The results of Sunday's elections to the European Parliament may make the long-standing political parties in Croatia and their voters suitable for exhibition.
Date:
Tuesday 27th May 2014

Saving Humans blog: Building "A Spiral of Trust" through GRIT

Saving Humans blog: Building "A Spiral of Trust" through GRIT
Description
Written by Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler. Our last blog explored how peaceful/defensive self-images and ideological fundamentalist beliefs can generate security competition, even between states with peaceful motives and intentions. How, then, might a spiral of distrust be substituted for a 'spiral of trust'.
Date:
Friday 23rd May 2014

Saving Humans blog: 'Frame-Breaking Conciliatory Moves between Enemies'

Saving Humans blog: 'Frame-Breaking Conciliatory Moves between Enemies'
Description
Written by Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler. The Red October vignette is the stuff of fiction and Hollywood, and the question is whether it has any relevance to building trust in the contemporary world. Kupchan used the story to argue in his book that it was dramatic, frame-breaking moves of this kind that are necessary for adversaries to begin a process of diplomatic accommodation, but the cases he discussed in the second part of his book (especially the Anglo-American rapprochement in the late 19th Century) provide little evidence for this claim.
Date:
Friday 23rd May 2014

Blog: Notes on the 'Worthless Dowry' of Soviet Industrial Modernity

Blog: Notes on the 'Worthless Dowry' of Soviet Industrial Modernity
Description
Written by Dr Jeremy Morris. The monotown, or 'town-forming enterprise', was, and remains a key organisation of urban space in the former Soviet Union. Bound up with such a specifically socialist-conception of space is a host of social and cultural signifiers relating to class, kinship, social networks, local identity, and more.
Date:
Wednesday 21st May 2014

Saving Humans blog: Psychological Drivers of Distrust Between Adversaries

Saving Humans blog: Psychological Drivers of Distrust Between Adversaries
Description
Written by Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler. I concluded yesterday's blog by suggesting that perhaps our values and beliefs lead us astray when it comes to thinking about the possibilities for building trust in International politics. I want to pursue this theme today by exploring two key beliefs that promote distrust, and hence fuel security competition.
Date:
Tuesday 20th May 2014

Saving Humans blog: Trust as a Path to De-Escalation and Frame-Breaking in International Politics

Saving Humans blog: Trust as a Path to De-Escalation and Frame-Breaking in International Politics
Description
Written by Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler. 'There is little room for trust among states', so wrote the Chicago based professor of International Relations, John Mearsheimer, in his 2001 opus, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. Trust, Mearsheimer argued, is virtually impossible because states coexist in a condition of international anarchy (defined in the field of International Relations as the absence of a global government) that generates a perpetual competition for security.
Date:
Tuesday 20th May 2014

Blog: Could Russia Repeat a Ukraine Scenario in Belarus?

Blog: Could Russia Repeat a Ukraine Scenario in Belarus?
Description
Written by Dr Matthew Frear. Russia's intervention in Ukraine has often been justified in terms of defending the interests of ethnic Russians. According to the 2009 national census, almost 800,000 Russians live in Belarus – 8.3% of the population. As the titular nationality, Belarusians are actually in quite a strong position – ethnic Belarusians make up a larger proportion of the population of Belarus than Ukrainians do in Ukraine or Russians do in the Russian Federation.
Date:
Monday 19th May 2014
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Departmental news

Things will never be the same again: reflections on the Scottish referendum

Things will never be the same again: reflections on the Scottish referendum
Description
Written by Professor Colin Thain. Whatever the outcome of today's referendum of 3.5 million voters in Scotland, Friday 19 September 2014 will be an epoch-making day in the politics of these islands. For once, the hyperbole is justified.
Date:
18/09/2014

The Conversation: Ban pre-election opinion polls at your peril

The Conversation: Ban pre-election opinion polls at your peril
Description
Written by Chris Game. I really thought we might make it. We'd got past the publication of YouGov's potentially constitution-changing poll showing a minuscule lead for the Yes campaign without anyone grabbing for an easy headline by calling for opinion polls to be banned in the run-up to elections and referendums.
Date:
18/09/2014

Undergraduate Open Day - Saturday 18 October 2014

Undergraduate Open Day - Saturday 18 October 2014
Description
Our Undergraduate Open Days offer you the perfect opportunity to hear first-hand from our current undergraduates and teaching staff about living and learning at Birmingham.
Date:
16/09/2014

The Conversation: Scotland vote appears to be defying usual referendum swing

The Conversation: Scotland vote appears to be defying usual referendum swing
Description
Written by Chris Game. It seems Scottish voters are warming to the whole independence idea, then – bucking the trend that the experts have been telling us for months they're almost bound to follow.
Date:
15/09/2014

New students 2014/15

New students 2014/15
Description
The staff at the School of Government and Society look forward to meeting all new students for the start of the 2014/15 academic year. All the information you'll need for starting at the University of Birmingham can be found on our Welcome homepage.
Date:
12/09/2014