Weekly Briefing of the Social Sciences (5-11 August 2019)

Smart contracts
Image credit: Pixabay (Pexels)
A major political science theory's racist foundations; making grad students replicate quantitative papers; and how blockchain technologies create "smart contracts".

Political Science

Securitization theory is founded on racist thoughts and methodological whiteness (anti-blackness), according to a new paper in Security Dialogue; and it depicts Europe as a civilized, ideal, de-securitized place, while it deems Africa irrationally over-securitized. (Paper: Is securitization theory racist? Civilizationism, methodological whiteness, and antiblack thought in the Copenhagen School.)

The long-term consequences of Austria's decision to decrease voting age to 16 (in 2007) were analyzed in a paper in Electoral Studies. Newly eligible young voters show a greater likeliness to vote in future elections, and they are likely to exhibit rather extreme political stances, to the detriment of the centrist government parties that adopted the law. (Paper: Voting at 16: Intended and unintended consequences of Austria's electoral reform.)


Discourses of an inauthentic Blackness can make mixed-race people feel rejected from a collective Black identity (a phenomenon called "horizontal hostility"). A new paper in Ethnic & Racial Studies explores its implications for identity development, and investigates how it differs from rejection that arises from White structural racism. (Paper: “You think you’re Black?” Exploring Black mixed-race experiences of Black rejection.)

Why does China's government mobilize huge resources from national, provincial and local institutions so as to promote football among Chinese citizens? A new paper in Journal of Sport and Social Issues uses Bourdieu's notion of "symbolic power" to find football's links to state-building objectives under the umbrella term of the Chinese Dream. (Paper: China’s Football Dream: Sport, Citizenship, Symbolic Power, and Civic Spaces.)

And: Ever thought about letting your students replicate established studies to promote an active learning of quantiatitve skills? Three sociologists give some practical recommendations in Teaching Sociology. (Paper: Teaching Replication to Graduate Students.)


Medium-sized Brazilian cities (with populations between 100,000 and 500,000 inhabitants) suffer under poor urban planning, with negative consequences for biodiversity and citizens' health; and yet, they too often lack official air quality measurement equipments. But researchers argue in a paper in Urban Geography point toward inexpensive, easy-to-implement tools for measuring pollution. (Paper: The consequences of Brazil’s lack of transport planning is written in the blood of sparrows.)

Reviewing the People's Republic of China's nuclear warfare and uranium mining programs in Xinjiang, a paper in Eurasian Geography and Economics users Mbembe's concept of "necropolitics" to understand how Chinese "nuclear imperialism" racially discriminates against Uyghurs. (Paper: The nuclear imperialism-necropolitics nexus: contextualizing Chinese-Uyghur oppression in our nuclear age.)


During court trials of sexual offences, one often witnesses how interrogations of female sexual behaviour are driven by mistrust. A paper in Past & Present focuses on medico-legal sources in England (1850-1914) to see how forensic medicine could operate as a bridge between social change and local courts. (Paper: Forensic Medicine and Female Victimhood in Victorian and Edwardian England.)

Recently declassified sources from Argnetina, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay and the United States give insight into how Latin American governments responded to the Cuban revolution in 1959. A new paper in Journal of Cold War Studies used them to understand why local governments feared Fidel Castro's ascendancy. (Paper: The “Cuban Question” and the Cold War in Latin America, 1959–1964.)


Blockchain technologies can be utilized to generate so-called smart contracts. Many questions arise, mostly revolving around contract formation, performance, and enforcement. A paper in Computer Law & Security Review questions whether these aspects are really legally relevant, or whether they should rather be resolved from a technical viewpoint. (Paper: All watched over by machines of loving grace: A critical look at smart contracts.)

Internet companies need exceptions from copyright law, while copyright-owning media businesses lobby for stricter legal rules. A paper in Regulation & Governance argues that so far, scholarship has neglected the interests of internet companies, making them blind towards how such negotiating preferences shape international law. (Paper: Business conflict and international law: The political economy of copyright in the United States.)


When headlines are presented as clickbaits rather than as traditional summary headlines, how differently do readers behave in news-seeking? Researchers (in New Media & Society) conducted a lab experiment and a field test to find out. (Paper: The curiosity effect: Information seeking in the contemporary news environment.)

Perhaps surprisingly, Chinese activists regularly protest against the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine. As a result of a participant observation, published in Public Understanding of Science, researchers question the allegedly close ties between the systems of state and science in China. (Paper: Science communication activism: Protesting Traditional Chinese Medicine in China.)

Area Studies

Internationally, Jawaharlal Nehru's government depicted the question of Tibetan refugees in the 1960s as a relatively minor problem and put it in contrast to the 1947 Partition's mass migrations. How and why did India redefine the concept of refugees under those circumstances, and what were the implications for the country's foreign policy during the Cold War? A paper in South Asia sheds light. (Paper: Nehru’s Non-Alignment Dilemma: Tibetan Refugees in India.)

Was China an obstacle to Singapore's nation-building efforts in the 1950s and 1960s due to its ethnic links and ideological differences? Interestingly, Lee Kuan Yew could – according to a paper in The China Quarterly – convince his counterparts in Beijing to support the city state. (Paper: Love the Tree, Love the Branch: Beijing's Friendship with Lee Kuan Yew, 1954–1965.)

Did we miss something, or do you have any comments?
Let us know or write a comment below!

See also ...
Research Highlights | 2019-08-04
A weekly briefing of trending (and less trending) papers across the social sciences, 29 July - 4 August 2019.
Research Highlights | 2019-08-18
This week's research highlights include a newly discovered John Locke manuscript; how tabloid media depicted Donald Trump in the 1980s and the 1990s; why the lighthouse should not serve as the quintessential example of a public good; and a new quantitative assessment of 1944-45 famines in Vietnam and Java.