Soc. Sci.2014, 3(1), 172-192; doi:10.3390/socsci3010172 - published online 11 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This paper uses an empirical analysis of a water conflict in the German state of Brandenburg to explore diverse constructions of vulnerability to water scarcity by local stakeholders. It demonstrates how, in the absence of effective formal institutions, these constructions are getting translated into conflictual resilience strategies practiced by these stakeholders, creating situations in which “your resilience is my vulnerability”. The novel contribution of the paper to resilience research is threefold. Firstly, it illustrates how the vulnerability and resilience of a socio-ecological system—such as small catchment—are socially constructed; that is, how they are not given but rather the product of stakeholders’ perceptions of threats and suitable responses to them. Secondly, the paper emphasizes the role of institutions—both formal and informal—in framing these vulnerability constructions and resilience strategies. Particular attention is paid to the importance of informal ‘rules in use’ emerging in the wake of (formal) ‘institutional voids’ and how they work against collective solutions. Thirdly, by choosing a small-scale, commonplace dispute to study vulnerability and resilience, the paper seeks to redress the imbalance of resilience research (and policy) on dramatic disaster events by revealing the relevance of everyday vulnerabilities, which may be less eye-catching but are far more widespread.
Soc. Sci.2014, 3(1), 160-171; doi:10.3390/socsci3010160 - published online 10 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Europe has become a vivid example of intergroup dynamics with all the risks and chances it holds for peaceful and respectful co-existence. While Europe as a superordinate social category has the capability of solidarity between its subcategories (i.e., nations), negative emotions and behaviors among the countries’ citizens have become more prevalent throughout the emerging crisis. This article aims to analyze the psychological outcomes (i.e., negative attitudes) following on from the structural and economic imbalances within the European Union. More precisely, we argue that political reactions towards the Euro crisis facilitated routes to nationalism and thereby fostered supremacy in a few countries. This perceived supremacy of some countries, in turn, legitimized negative reactions towards others. Based on predictions from a social identity perspective, we describe how these processes perpetuate themselves. We also suggest strategies that might prevent the idea of a common Europe from failing.
Soc. Sci.2014, 3(1), 142-159; doi:10.3390/socsci3010142 - published online 28 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Climate change is globally defined as a “reality”. This does not mean however that the way in which it is understood is the same all over the world. Rather, perceptions may differ at different places and times, even if physical and geographical conditions are similar. For the time being, this phenomenon has not been dealt with on a theoretical-conceptual level. The article will address this desiderate. Based on the approaches of social constructivism as well as actor-network theory, a theoretical concept will be suggested as a heuristic model for empirical analysis. By the examples of Lübeck and Rostock, two cities on Germany’s Baltic coast, it will be shown that climate change related perceptions of vulnerability and resilience may build on physical-material aspects but that they are above all considerably interwoven with specific cultural and social patterns of interpretation. In the framework of the local discourse in Lübeck, it is the strong Hanseatic tradition which consumes the climate change issue, whereas in Rostock it is the problems and historical breaks of a transformation society which shape the way of viewing climate change.
Soc. Sci.2014, 3(1), 128-139; doi:10.3390/socsci3010128 - published online 21 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: As the future movements of financial time series like the European Central Bank’s benchmark rate are exposed to uncertainty, financial market participants regularly have to rely on professional analysts’ forecasts. Not surprisingly—and for decades already—the quality of survey forecasts has been evaluated, with heterogeneous results. In addition, forecasters’ performance can change through the course of time. This may happen not only due to wrong or inadequate underlying models. Especially in times of financial turmoil or monetary crisis—like the European debt crisis—the interest rate moves made by central bankers may become even harder to predict (at least the direct reaction to the crisis). Because of this, we evaluate the performance of survey forecasts for the three months rate in the Euro zone performed by financial professionals and test for structural breaks to evidence for crisis related changes and the corresponding forecast errors.
Soc. Sci.2014, 3(1), 115-127; doi:10.3390/socsci3010115 - published online 19 February 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The present research examined the effect of social influence on White, heterosexual individuals’ attraction to targets of varying races (White vs. Black) in two college student samples from the United States (one that leaned politically liberal and one that leaned politically conservative). Using a within-subjects experimental design, participants were given artificial peer evaluation data (positive, negative, or none) before providing ratings of attractiveness and dating interest for a series of targets. In both samples, positive information was associated with greater levels of attraction and dating interest than negative information, regardless of target race. Within the conservative sample, participants reported greater attraction toward and more dating interest in White targets relative to Black targets, while in the liberal sample, participants’ ratings of targets did not significantly differ from one another. These findings suggest that social influence can affect perceptions of attractiveness even in very different political climates.