IOB Seminar by Filip De Maesschalck and Mathias De Roeck

Date: 25 September 2014

Venue: UA City Campus-Building S-Nile room - Lange Sint Annastraat 7 - first floor - 2000 Antwerp

Time: 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: IOB

Short description: You are cordially invited to participate at the IOB Seminar of Filip De Maesschalck and Mathias De Roeck, in which they set out their PhD research proposal for the years to come.

'European Statebuilding Support to Fragile States' / 'Global System Dynamics, State Infrastructural Power and the Stability of Hybrid Political Regimes. A Mixed-Methods Analysis. 1965 - 2010'

Filip De Maesschalck

European Statebuilding Support to Fragile States. An Analysis of the Interplay between External Legitimation and Internal Legitimacy in Post-Conflict States.

Over the past years, state fragility has emerged as a key concept in the field of international cooperation. In contexts of state fragility, peace-building and statebuilding are stated as prime goals of international engagement. These types of engagement mainly seek to address problems of either weak state authority or weak state capacity. Less addressed — and also less well understood — are weaknesses related to internal legitimacy. This problem motivates my PhD research project, which aims at analyzing how, in a context of post-conflict states, processes of European legitimation and internal legitimacy interact with each other. 

From an analytical point of view, I will take a historical institutionalist perspective. In particular, I will focus on how the interplay between external legitimation and internal legitimacy relates to various aspects of temporality (duration, tempo, acceleration, timing). A main working hypothesis is that, once initiated, the external legitimation of a post-conflict state may easily turn into a self-reinforcing process, even in cases where internal legitimacy is shown to decline over time. In other words, a decline in internal legitimacy — contrary to what one might expect — does not necessarily lead external actors to adjust their legitimating behavior in a significant manner.

From a methodological point of view, the research will mainly apply qualitative methods, including process tracing, as a suitable approach to examine temporal mechanisms. The project will consist of two stages: a first stage of exploratory within-case research, followed by a second stage of theory-testing research. Analysis in the first stage will be based on the case of Burundi, which can be seen as a 'typical' case, in the sense that since the end of the civil war, in 2000, European actors have been largely supportive of the regime in place. The question to be answered here is whether, in the current climate of declining internal legitimacy, European actors sustain their legitimating behavior. In function of the preliminary findings, a 'positive' or 'crucial' case will be selected for analysis in the second stage.

Mathias De Roeck

Global System Dynamics, State Infrastructural Power and the Stability of Hybrid Political Regimes. A Mixed-Methods Analysis. 1965 - 2010.

Political scientists postulated the democratization of countries after the end of the Cold War. Two decades later, however, it becomes clear that many of these political regimes did not move toward democracy. Instead, they have remained stuck somewhere ‘in the middle,’ combining democratic institutions, like parliamentarism, with authoritarian ones. This research project seeks to answer the following question: why do hybrid political regimes persist? We argue that the structure of the global system and the infrastructural power of the state affect hybrid regime stability. First, we contend that international pressure to democratize follows upon the state of play between hegemonic powers. Where the immediate post-Cold War environment was featured by American hyperpuissance, over time the rise of authoritarian hegemons, like China, decreased international pressure for democracy and made possible the stability of hybrid formats. Second, non-democratic forms of governance have demonstrated to foster social development. Hence, countries occupying a similar position in the international division of labor are ‘seduced’ to forge similar institutions, offering them a platform to succeed. Third, international power shifts affect the consensual order at the global level. Hybrid political regimes have gained international legitimacy, giving them the normative support needed for stability. Besides international dynamics, we also argue that state infrastructural power impacts hybrid regime stability. Infrastructurally strong states, penetrating far into the national territory, are well-inclined to repel potential rivals, extract resources from society and administer citizens. This helps to sustain their rule. At the same time, they are more effective in adopting and consolidating international standards, at present less liberal. This study applies a nested research design, integrating large processes (large-N) and specific national dynamics (small-N). Regimes are conceptualized in a multidimensional and continuous fashion, focusing on institutional constraints and respect for human rights. We perceive the global environment as a multiplex relational system of economic, political and military linkages between countries. Social network analysis (SNA) and spatial regression allow us to measure this environment, while we employ event history analysis for model testing, controlling for alternative explanations. We take data from the International Meta-Database (IMDB), bringing together data on developments in the global system and countries from 1965 on. Furthermore, we apply process tracing on a small subset of cases to investigate the state-regime nexus more into detail. Therefore, we collect primary and secondary data on the countries of interest, interviewing political actors and consulting country reports. Overall, for this study goes further than traditional domestic explanations of regime stability, uses new methodological techniques and collects novel data, it adds important new insights to the study of comparative regime developments.

Entrance fee: Free (bring your own lunch)

Registration: Compulsary :

Contact email:

Contact phone: 03/265.52.96