41 episodes

Conversations on governance with leading social scientists around the world. Run by the Centre for the Study of Governance and Society at King's College London.

The Governance Podcast Centre for the Study of Governance and Society

    • Social Sciences
    • 4.7 • 3 Ratings

Conversations on governance with leading social scientists around the world. Run by the Centre for the Study of Governance and Society at King's College London.

    Prisons and the Origins of Social Order: In Conversation with David Skarbek

    Prisons and the Origins of Social Order: In Conversation with David Skarbek

    David Skarbek (Brown University) describes his ethnographic work on prison governance as a historical analogy to the emergence of states. Join us in this episode of the Governance Podcast led by John Meadowcroft (King’s College London) for a vibrant discussion on how governance emerges (or doesn’t) in different social landscapes, from prisons and gulags to clans and nation-states.
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    The Guest
    David Skarbek is Associate Professor of Political Science at Brown University. His research examines how extralegal governance institutions form, operate, and evolve. He has published extensively on the informal institutions that govern life in prisons in California and around the globe.
    His work has appeared in leading journals in political science, economics, and criminology, including in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Journal of Law, Economics & Organization, and Journal of Criminal Justice. 
    His book, The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System (Oxford University Press), received the American Political Science Association’s 2016 William H. Riker Award for the best book in political economy in the previous three years. It was also awarded the 2014 Best Publication Award from the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime and was shortlisted for the British Sociological Association’s 2014 Ethnography Award.
    His work has been featured widely in national and international media outlets, such as the Atlantic, BBC, Business Insider, the Economist, Forbes, the Independent, and the Times.
    Skip Ahead
    00:38: David, you’re well known for writing a book on prison gangs in California and America called The Social Order of the Underworld. Just to begin, tell us a little bit about that book.
    2:01: You mentioned that prison gangs are often organized on racial lines. Why is that the case?
    4:10: So race is a convenient way of organizing a large group of people. Is that what you’re arguing?
    4:34: Does that mean this has changed over time? So as a prison population got bigger in America, gangs organized upon racial lines have become more important?
    7:44: You mentioned that the convict code, if you like, was informal. Would you see gangs as providing more formal governance?
    9:15: Would it be fair or is it a stretch to suggest that this is like a prison constitution?
    10:53: One thing when you read the book that’s quite striking is there are lots of vivid descriptions of violence that occurs in prison. How do you reconcile that evidence with what you describe as some sort of order?
    13:55: I imagine that the question that comes to many people’s minds when it comes to prison gangs, is what would happen if they went to prison? Would they have to join a prison gang, and if the didn’t, what would be the consequences?
    15:26: So it’d be fair to say you cannot be a solitary individual, you cannot be a holdout, so to speak.
    16:15: Could we then imagine that prisons are close to what we might think of the state of nature in social science?
    17:05: This brings us to your latest work in this area, which I think is going to be called the Puzzle of Prison Order. How does it extend your previous work?
    20:03: Maybe you can say a little more about English prisons. One senses that they don’t have that kind of gang organization that we observe in California. Why should that be the case?
    23:39: One challenge this book takes on is trying to unpack all these different factors, all these different possibilities. So I guess one common sense question would be, lookin

    • 50 min
    Poverty, Informality and Politics in India: In Conversation with Tariq Thachil

    Poverty, Informality and Politics in India: In Conversation with Tariq Thachil

    Slums are home to 850 million people worldwide, making them prime territory for distributive politics. In this episode of the Governance Podcast, Tariq Thachil (Vanderbilt University) sits down with Irena Schneider (King’s College London) to discuss the counterintuitive ways in which governance emerges amidst poverty and informality in Indian cities.
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    The Guest
    Tariq Thachil is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on political parties and political behavior, social movements, and ethnic politics, with a regional focus on South Asia.
    His first book examines how elite parties can use social services to win mass support, through a study of Hindu nationalism in India, and was published by Cambridge University Press (Studies in Comparative Politics) in 2014. This project has won numerous awards, including the 2015 Gregory Luebbert Award for best book in comparative politics, the 2015 Leon Epstein Award for best book on political parties, and 2010 Gabriel Almond Award for best dissertation in comparative politics, all from the American Political Science Association. It also won the 2010 Sardar Patel Prize for best dissertation on modern India in the humanities and social sciences.
    His current research focuses on the political consequences of urbanization, and draws on extensive qualitative and quantitative research among poor migrants in Indian cities. An article from this project, coauthored with Adam Auerbach, received the 2018 Heinz I. Eulau Award for the best article published in the American Political Science Review in the previous calendar year.
    Skip Ahead
    00:58: As a political scientist, what prompted you to take an interest in the politics of Indian slums?
    1:53: You talk a lot about machine politics in India—It’s a core element of your book. Historically when we think about machine politics, you also mention in your book that the big examples are US democratic party machines in New York and Chicago which emerged in the 19th century by giving out material benefits to poor European immigrants in exchange for political support. We’re seeing similar trends happening across the developing world today. Masses of migrants are flooding to cities, living in slums, and end up being governed by powerful machines. But you’re observing something uniquely different about how politics emerges within Indian slums. Quite specifically, you’re noticing that the process is a lot more democratic than we thought. What have you been observing? What’s counterintuitive? 
    7:56: That’s really interesting because it really has to do with this unique competitive environment. Why is it so competitive? Why is no one able to take over and become a boss in some of these Indian slums?
    11:23: You argue that slum residents don’t really choose leaders on the basis of petty gifts or cash. Clientelism doesn’t boil down to something so simple. What criteria do residents really use to choose their leaders? 
    14:13: The picture you’re painting is that slum residents are much more empowered to choose among competing brokers rather than being passive or manipulated rule takers. How much power do they really have over their local brokers and local politicians? Can they really hold their brokers accountable in ways that would mimic what would happen under a formal democratic institution?
    18:54: One of your most interesting findings is that when people are choosing their slum leaders and brokers, they’re not necessarily using the basis of caste or ethnicity—and a lot of what really matters is thin

    • 46 min
    Womanhood in Tocqueville's Democracy: In Conversation with Sarah Wilford

    Womanhood in Tocqueville's Democracy: In Conversation with Sarah Wilford

    Alexis de Tocqueville argued that American democracy was rooted in associational life. What role did women play in building this capacity for association? In this episode of the Governance Podcast, Dr Sarah Wilford (University of the Andes) sits down with Dr Irena Schneider (King's College London) to discuss how the domestic sphere shapes free societies and stems the tide of democratic despotism. 
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    The Guest
    Dr Sarah Wilford is an assistant professor of politics at the University of the Andes in Santiago. Her research focuses on the political thought of Alexis de Tocqueville regarding family, women, and democratic conditions. Other research interests include the relationship between religion and liberty in Tocqueville, womanhood during the nineteenth century, and the use of Tocqueville in later twentieth and twenty-first-century political theory and political science. She received her PhD in Politics from King's College London in 2018.
    Skip Ahead
    00:51: Tocqueville is a very popular writer to turn to nowadays, particularly when we think about modern questions of the loss of associationalism, virtuous citizenship, and community values. But we don't often think about Tocqueville in terms of gender and the domestic sphere. That's where you have been working and I wanted to ask just to get started, how did you get interested in the gender angle on Tocqueville? 
    3:13: To delve into the details, what exactly is the role of womanhood and the domestic sphere in Tocqueville's work?
    07:23: My first reaction is-- you talked about paternal authority and that being a prime element in democratic citizenship, and being the first school of citizenship. What about the mother and womanhood in general? How does that contribute to the raising of virtuous, democratic citizens?
    9:30: To delve further into the question of authority, both maternal, paternal, and the domestic sphere, it seems almost like an oxymoron to say that respect for authority leads to more democratic norms and civil society. How does that transition play out in Tocqueville?
    11:30: Tocqueville really is seen as a scholar of civil society, of associationalism. We throw around these terms but we're not often very clear by what Tocqueville meant by them. When he observed these things in American society, what was he talking about? What does governance and associationalism mean for Tocqueville in this sense?
    17:21: A lot of times, when it comes to Tocqueville, we hear the term, 'the habits of the heart and mind.' A lot of the network that exist within civil society are driven by people's common acceptance or commitment to certain values or beliefs or ideas. That is a kind of glue that ties society together and is generated within the domestic sphere. Can you talk a little more about the habits of the heart and mind that a self-governing citizenry is supposed to have?
    21:08: Tocqueville has been used and appropriated by many modern scholars in social science, from thinkers like Robert Putnam to Vincent Ostrom, and others. And they often use Tocqueville to address modern issues or crises of democracy. You've certainly worked a little bit on how they interpreted Tocqueville. What did they get right, and what did they get wrong?
    28:04: What is your contribution on these perspectives? Are they hitting the point? Are they being accurately Tocquevillian, or are they misunderstanding parts of his argument?
    37:44: I think part of the difficulty in transmitting this more 19th century perspective into the 21st is that society doesn't really look the same as when Tocqueville observed it. You talked a lot about

    • 54 min
    The Case Against the Sovereign State: In Conversation with David Thunder

    The Case Against the Sovereign State: In Conversation with David Thunder

    David Thunder (University of Navarra) argues that many modern political theorists, from Hobbes to Rawls, overstate the importance of state sovereignty. He envisions an alternative, polycentric form of social organisation that can support one’s freedom to flourish. Tune in for his argument in this episode of the Governance Podcast led by Billy Christmas (King’s College London).
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    The Guest
    David Thunder is a researcher and lecturer in political and social philosophy at the Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra. Prior to his appointment to the University of Navarra, he held several research and teaching positions in the United States, including visiting positions at Bucknell and Villanova Universities, and a stint as Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Princeton University’s James Madison Program. David earned his BA and MA in philosophy at University College Dublin, and his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Notre Dame. He is currently preparing two book manuscripts, tentatively entitled May I Love My Country? In Search of a Defensible Patriotism; and Sovereign Rule and the Still-Birth of Freedom: A Preface to Confederal Republicanism. 
    David’s academic writings include Citizenship and the Pursuit of the Worthy Life (Cambridge University Press, 2014), The Ethics of Citizenship in the 21st Century (edited volume, Springer, 2017), and numerous articles in international peer-reviewed journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, Political Theory, The Journal of Social Philosophy, and the Journal of Business Ethics. His writings cover a wide range of questions including the pros and cons of individualism, the ethics of financial trading, the complicity of citizens in collective injustice, the concept of moral impartiality, and the scope of duties of beneficence. He writes occasionally for The Irish Times and RTE’s Brainstorm page. For more information, see www.davidthunder.com. 
    Skip Ahead
    00:59: What is sovereigntism? Why are you so critical of it?
    2:18: Is your criticism of it primarily in terms of as a theory of political organisation, as an approach to justice in normative political theory? Or is it a critique of empirical reality? Is it that you think this is the system we do in fact have, and it's bad for a number of reasons?
    4:06: Could you say a bit more about how this aspiration to sovereignty is so harmful to these kinds of associations? 
    5:58: What do you think is worth protecting about associational life? What would you say to someone who takes the opposite approach and says that these small associations are undermining the authority of the national government and that undermines our sense of national identity, a more cosmopolitan and open ended form of human cooperation and really these associations are just old fashioned things which we can now do away with now that we have nation states.
    8:47: So you start off with this tentative defense of associational life that, while any kind of associational life is not always good, it is a necessary condition that we are able to form and live in associations. And the aspiration of the sovereign state is parasitical or cannibalistic upon that. If the goal of associational life is this common flourishing, friendship and knowledge, generational solidarity, is there a need for external regulation of associational life in order to, not guarantee, but certainly regulate and offer some predictability that associational life will not go to the worst case scenario?
    12:35: It sounds like you do want there to be political institutions

    • 57 min
    Socialism and the Future of Heterodox Economics: In Conversation with Geoffrey Hodgson

    Socialism and the Future of Heterodox Economics: In Conversation with Geoffrey Hodgson

    Is socialism feasible? What is the future of heterodox economics after the financial crisis? In this episode of the Governance Podcast, Mark Pennington (King's College London) sits down with Geoffrey Hodgson (Loughborough University London) for a wide-ranging conversation on the nature of social democracy, neoliberalism, and new paradigms in economics.
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    The Guest
    Geoffrey Hodgson is a Professor in Management for the Institute for International Management at Loughborough University London. He is a specialist in institutional and evolutionary economics, with a background in economics, philosophy and mathematics. His research has applications to the understanding of organisations, organisational change, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development. Hodgson is also the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Institutional Economics (ABS rank 3). He has published 18 academic books and over 150 academic articles. He is the winner of the Schumpeter Prize 2014 for his book on "Conceptualizing Capitalism". 
    Skip Ahead
    0:55: You've actually got two books out in the last year -- Is Socialism Feasible? and Is there a future for heterodox economics? I wonder if we could start by you talking us through-- first of all, how do you write two books in a year, but also the rationale for these two particular books?
    8:44: I'd like to follow up on that last part and link it to the motivation for writing these books-- you're very clear to make a distinction between socialism and social democracy, so you do see yourself as a kind of social democrat who has been influenced by arguments in the liberal tradition. I wonder if you could say something about why you think, following the crash, there's been a movement toward going back to what you describe as 'big state socialism' as opposed to embracing a radical Keynesian view or some kind of interventionist or redistributive politics, which isn't about nationalising or controlling everything from the centre.
    14:45: I really enjoyed this section of the book where you're talking about the use of terminology-- how the use of this term 'neoliberal' has meant that you almost can't have a conversation in certain areas because anything turns out to be neoliberal if it isn't full blooded socialism and I think there's a wonderful line in the book where you say that if you follow this kind of reasoning, when Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy to save the Soviet people from starvation, this would have been described as a neoliberal policy by some of the contemporary left.
    16:34: Why do you think that label [neoliberalism] has become so ubiquitous?
    18:17: You mention some heterodox thinkers using the term, dismissing certain things as being right wing just because of that. Perhaps we can connect to the second book-- could you talk about the rationale for writing it?
    26:32: Can we pursue that more, this issue about how effectively methodological questions seem to get confused with policy positions or ideological views in heterodoxy? This is something that's always frustrated me-- I consider myself to be quite heterodox in the sense that I'm very influenced by the Austrian school ideas. There are lots of debates I'd like to engage with people who are post-Keynesians or post-institutionalists or evolutionary thinkers, and I feel that we should have a club identity around those themes. But because we might divide on policy issues that seems to come apart. 
    29:59: There is so much within neoclassical economics which promotes, if not radical socialism, although you could interpret some general equilibrium theory in that way, but

    • 58 min
    Fukuyama on Liberalism, Dignity and Identity: In Conversation with Humeira Iqtidar and Paul Sagar

    Fukuyama on Liberalism, Dignity and Identity: In Conversation with Humeira Iqtidar and Paul Sagar

    Where are the fault lines in the modern liberal project? In this episode of the Governance Podcast, Dr Humeira Iqtidar and Dr Paul Sagar of King's College London tackle this question in a dialogue on Francis Fukuyama's new book, Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment. 
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    The Guests
    Dr Humeira Iqtidar joined King's College London in 2011. She has studied at the University of Cambridge, McGill University in Canada and Quaid-e-Azam University in Pakistan. Before joining King's, Humeira was based at the University of Cambridge as a fellow of King’s College and the Centre of South Asian Studies. She is a co-convenor of the London Comparative Political Theory Workshop. Humeira’s research explores the shifting demarcations of state, market and society in political imagination, and their relationship with Islamic thought and practice. Her current research focuses on non-liberal conceptions of tolerance. Her research has featured in interviews and articles in The Guardian, BBC World Service, Voice of America, Der Spiegel, Social Science Research Council Online, The Dawn, Express Tribune and Open Democracy. 
    Dr Paul Sagar is a lecturer in political theory at King's College London. His recent monograph, The Opinion of Mankind: Sociability and the State from Hobbes to Smith, explores Enlightenment accounts of the foundations of modern politics, whilst also addressing contemporary issues regarding how to conceive of the state, and what that means for normative political theory today. He has also published a number of studies on topics such as: the political writings of Bernard Williams, so-called ‘realist’ approaches to political philosophy, the nature of liberty under conditions of modernity, and the idea of immortality. Paul is currently in the early stages of two major new projects. The first is a monograph study of Adam Smith’s political philosophy as rooted in his conceptions of history and commercial society. The second is an exploration of the idea of the enemy in the history of political thought. 
    Skip Ahead
    0:55: Where do we see this book in Fukuyama's larger oeuvre? 
    3:39: You can see Hegel's influence more in his previous work, more in terms of a teleological thrust through history, and the metaphysics in Hegel... I really understand to be a kind of battle of ideas. And Fukuyama takes that on, and his argument is more that if we are thinking about ideas that will triumph, then liberal democracy is the best idea.
    8:55: I think what Fukuyama wants to say in this Identity book is, the same threats to the last man at the end of history, which is the desire for recognition, will overwhelm contentment with stability. Because even if liberal democracy... would provide all the comforts of life... and solve the economic questions, which we know now that it hasn't... but even back then Fukuyama thought that even if it does that, it will not solve the recognition problem, and if they don't get that recognition, they will break things, they will smash things.
    11:14: I actually find the narrative that he tells pretty plausible. The idea that we exist not just with the desire for recognition, but a desire that each of us has an authentic self, an authentic identity, which may be at odds with wider society, and that society itself may be a structural mechanism of oppression. 
    13:29: His account of the failure of multiculturalism, which... he doesn't actually spell it out in so many words... but he lays the blame on a certain kind of identity politics at the doorstep of the left. What is interesting is... I th

    • 43 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
3 Ratings

3 Ratings

JulchenJuli ,

Very interesting & relevant topics

Particularly enjoyed the episode with Jesse Norman MP.

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