Research at Political Science

Strategic emphasis of the Political Science is on democracy research. The Political Science unit co-operates with other universities in research, especially with the Åbo Akademi University. The two universities have established jointly The Finnish Centre for Democracy Research.

Profile of International Relations Subprogramme

​Research within the International Politics subunit focuses on international actors, their policies and interaction; the structures and processes of the world political system; and global problems and their management and resolution through international cooperation. The international Politics researchers also explore philosophical, methodological and other questions related to the history and development of IR. In recent years, various issues or security and securitization, as well as foreign policy analysis, both nationally and in the EU, have dominated the agenda. The rapid changes of the Chinese polity have also attracted a great deal of attention. 

Political Systems Subprogramme

The study of the Political systems at the Department has a wide variety of research focuses. Overall, issues related to the functioning of the democracy have dominated the research agenda. Many of the ongoing research are related to democractic institutions, their design and evaluation. The methods employed range from purely theoretical analyses to experimental and comparative techniques.

More concretely, projects within Political Systems include research on the role and performance of parliaments, political discourses and deliberation in parliaments and other contexts, the patterns of political competition, parties and party systems, as well as new forms of democracy such as citizens' initiatives and deliberative mini-publics. Following the tradition of Public Choice Research Centre (PCRC, 2008-) formal modelling is applied especially in the study of collective decision-making and common pool resources. Another noteworthy strand is experimental research which is used to analyze the effects of institutional environments on individual and group decision-making.

Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO)

1 September 2017 – 31 August 2021

Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO) addresses the problem of short-termism in public decision-making and governance. Although there is plenty of information about long-term consequences of human action, this information has limited influence on policy-making. For example, electoral terms arguably shorten politicians’ time spans in representative democracies. As a solution, PALO aims to develop deliberative practices of citizen participation and decision-making. Our point of departure is that policy-making practices should be developed so that future interests are taken better into account.
 
PALO is a multidisciplinary research project that analyzes problems of practices of long-term decision-making, for example, by using experimental methods. It also aims to develop new forms of citizen participation in local and regional governance and land use planning.
 
The project is led by Prof. Maija Setälä. In addition to University of Turku, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Åbo Akademi University and University of Tampere are involved in PALO consortium. The project is funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland.

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Public Choice Research Centre (PCRC) 2008-2012

Members of the Centre utilize the methods of microeconomics and analytic philosophy to the study of political and social life. They specialize in the study of institutional design, decision making and policy evaluation. The evaluative, performance and outcome oriented approach is the distinctive and unifying characteristic of the Centre scholarship. The Centre consists of two large research groups with widely overlapping memberships.

  1. Design of decision-making institutions and policy analysis. Specific projects of this group include decision-making procedures and power measurement as well as the relationships of various game-theoretic solution concepts. Particular emphasis is laid on institutions of the European Union.
  2. Democratic governance. The methodological approaches resorted to include conceptual analysis, argumentation theory, computer simulations as well as experimental methods. Key subjects under scrutiny in this group are deliberative democracy, referendum institutions and consensus reaching procedures.

Publications