A year in tweets: Reconstructing Trump's Beliefs on World Politics
The project aims at analyzing US President Donald J. Trump's tweets on world politics. What are the beliefs that guide Trump’s foreign policy? And have they or the way in which they are presented changed ever since he had announced to run for presidency in June 2015? To give an answer, the meaning of Trump’s tweets will be reconstructed in-depth, using methods that are rather prominent in German sociology.
Duration: Since 01 August 2017
Participants: PD Dr. Ulrich Franke
Project Type: Book project
Details: As Donald J. Trump’s tweets are about to change political communication, they raise interest of an increasing number of political scientists. Focusing on those tweets that concern world politics, the project’s core questions are: What are the beliefs that guide Trump’s foreign policy and his view on the United States in a globalized world? What are the ideas towards which he is loyal? What kind of agenda can be carved out of the respective utterances? To give an answer, the meaning of Trump’s relevant tweets will be reconstructed sequence by sequence, in light of the horizons of possibilities constituting it. Matching the subject matter notably, such an approach is deeply rooted in the philosophy and social theory of Classical Pragmatism from which the paper also borrows an understanding of beliefs as rules for action. Moreover, the project asks: how do tweets by @realDonaldTrump differ from those by the presidential account @POTUS? And how do Trump’s tweets differ over time, i.e. from pre-elections to his nomination and Election Day to his inauguration and after? Addressing these questions might help to find out whether the structure of the US government has an alleviating or softening influence on the incumbent.
Toward the meaning of the death of german soldiers
The project’s two core questions are the following: What are – according to members of the German Parliament, Government, and Armed Forces – the values that German soldiers have lost or will have to lose their lives for? And what are the effects of the death of German soldiers on the relations between parliament, government, and armed forces in the Federal Republic of Germany?
Duration: Since 01 March 2014
Participants: PD Dr. Ulrich Franke PD Dr. Ulrich Roos
Project Type: Personal project
Details: After decades of military restraint the German society increasingly faces a phenomenon that appeared to belong to an era thought to be overcome long ago: the death of German soldiers in war. This phenomenon is of central political importance and will gain ever more relevance for the German public in future as foreign deployments of the German Armed Forces lost their status as exceptional crises and have been turned into a permanent routine in consequence of a Federal Constitutional Court decision in 1994. However, the central question in this context is: How is it justified that citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany are exposed of an increased risk of being in killed in war? What is it that German armed forces are expected to be ready to die for? The answer to this question does not exclusively concern the armed forces but every citizen. Moreover it formulates the basic contents of the narrative or interpretative patterns provided by German foreign policy. For it is the risk for life and limb of human subjects that requires from the government to arrange and from the parliament to enact only those military operations that serve the achievement of particularly crucial German foreign policy goals and correspond to the fundamental values of the German state and its foreign policy. Hence, the narrative or interpretative patterns concerning the death of German soldiers in war also always provide information about the decisive goals and values of German politics. To reconstruct these fundamental goals and values and their development over time is of major societal relevance – particularly in view of the general debate about the future of German foreign policy and its – alleged – lack of a clear coordinate and value system or even ‘grand strategy’. Wherefore soldiers are killed in war is, with different emphases, discussed on various societal levels. Besides the parliament as the political body representing the ‘great community’ (Dewey), this mainly holds for the government and for the armed forces themselves. However, the death of soldiers and its justification is not only reflected in the discourses of parliament, government and armed forces, but also concerns the relations among these institutions. From the perspective of theory of democracy the death of soldiers in war is thus also related to the aspect of separation of powers – it raises the question of whether and how power potentials are (re-)distributed in a polity. In case of the Federal Republic of Germany what points to a redistribution of power from the parliament to the government is that the cenotaph in honour of the killed members of the German Armed Forces – a parliamentary army – has not been built close to the Reichstag building where the German Parliament is located, but on the grounds of the Ministry of Defence. Regarding mutual control – or checks and balances – as the flipside of power another question that is raised in this context is whether the loyalty of German armed forces is shifting in the course of foreign deployments. Shifting loyalty from the Parliament to the Ministry/Minister of Defence or one’s (immediate) superior, for instance, would make the democratic control of the Armed Forces more difficult (regardless of whether these loyalty shifts stem from the impression that Members of the Parliament might base their decisions on insufficient knowledge of the military operations or from the impression that they are doing too little to inform the public about an operation’s meaning). Be this as it may, what is crucial here in terms of methodology is that both the process of making sense of the death of soldiers in war and the discourse on German foreign policy goals is an ongoing political struggle that is carried out with linguistic means – it is a struggle about and with words that mean more than ‘cheap talk’. Consequently, words, concepts and narrative or interpretative patterns open and determine the possibilities of political action. Only what can be thought and uttered turns into political reality. Transformations of these, linguistically mediated, scopes of possibilities and sense-making create new political options; they modify political strategies or rule out certain courses of action. The mentioned relations between parliament, government and armed forces are also formed by or within these discourses. Transformed loyalties, competencies and power constellations are the result of a transformed language, of new concepts, transformed imaginations and thus of changed beliefs held by the actors involved (or rather: the cultures and groups in which actors are embedded). Against this background, a promising avenue for research in the context of the topic of this workshop would be opened by a focus on the following two aims: i) the aim to address the ‘wherefore’ of the death of soldiers in war and to examine the corresponding justifications by parliament, government and armed forces themselves (as well as the development of these discourses of justification and their commonalities and differences); ii) the aim to examine the (discursively negotiated) relations among parliament, government and armed forces with a particular view to the (re-)distribution of central political values such as power, influence, control, loyalty, competencies, legitimation or autonomy.
The Institutionalization of Prevention and Intervention
The project's aim is contributing to an explication of the complex regime of intervention and prevention that has emerged since 1990 and which strongly affects who engages in intervention and prevention, when, to what extent, and with what effect.
Duration: Since 01 July 2010
Participants: Prof. Dr. Peter Mayer (Head of project) PD Dr. Ulrich Franke Dr. Sebastian Mayer
Project Type: Third party project
Details: Since 1990, the international community has become involved in intra-state conflicts to an unprecedented degree. At the same time the very concept of security has broadened, creating new referent objects such as the environment or foreign individuals, and interventions by civilian and military means have become an established practice. NATO has adapted its functions to this new environment, and the EU developed from scratch its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). But also Members of the UN and the OSCE have decided to cooperate more closely and delegate responsibilities to bureaucracies. We depict a prevention and intervention regime of which the four IOs (UN, NATO, EU, OSCE) can be considered the backbone. The project seeks to develop a theoretical explanation for the emergence of this prevention and intervention regime, which largely conditions when, by whom and how intervention and prevention takes place. The dependent variable has four dimensions: (1) the tasks assigned to (or assumed by) the organization, (2) the resources the organization can draw on when trying to fulfil these tasks, (3) the autonomy of the organization, (4) the organization’s relationship with other organizations (leaving aside states) in the regime. Our goal is to describe and explain the “values” of these four dimensions including the changes in these values that have occurred during our period of observation (1990 to the present). The explanation we seek to develop draws on a number of different neo-institutionalist approaches.
Pragmatist Research on World Politics
The project’s aim is contributing to the study of world politics by means of the philosophy and social theory of classical American Pragmatism – Peirce, James, Dewey, and Mead. For this purpose, the level of methodology and method is taken into account as is the empirical level (with a particular focus on relations among international organizations in the field of peace and security).
Duration: 01 January 2012 - 31 January 2016
Participants: Dr. Ulrich Franke
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Gunther Hellmann; Prof. Dr. Mathias Albert; Prof. Dr. Peter Mayer
Details: The project is based on a model of the social which relies on Dewey’s notion of the public, Mead’s perspective on the self as a dialectics of ‘I’ and ‘me’ as well as on Peirce’s assumption that ‘belief is a rule for action’. Concretely, the model is characterized by an understanding of life as process, that is, a dialectic of human actors and structures of corporate practice (Franke and Roos 2010). Structures of corporate practice are thought to be generated in the context of collective attempts to deal with or regulate the consequences of human action. In doing so human actors, consciously and unconsciously, follow certain rules for action; consequently, structures of corporate practice – be it families, associations, nation states, supra- or international organizations, as well as the whole mankind – can be seen as congealed rules for action. Accordingly, the project’s aim is to reconstruct rules for action (particularly those which play a role in inter-organizational relations in the realm of peace and security). However, the project is not restricted to proposing a worldview by means of the ontology of structures of corporate practice and rules for action; at the same time, its focus is on the process of reconstructing rules for action. In brief, classical American Pragmatism’s potential is to be developed not only in empirical terms but also vis-à-vis concerns of methodology and method.
NATO's persistence after 1989
NATO will wither away after both the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Treaty Organization had dissolved, neorealists – who dominated discussions in International Relations for a long time – assumed in the early 1990s. As NATO did not dissolve but accepted new members, mostly former opponents, and took over tasks beyond the territory of its treaty, scholars controversially debated on the reasons of NATO’s persistence. Addressing this ‘puzzle’ the project – by means of detailed sequential analyses of documents issued by NATO’s highest decision-making bodies – concludes that the Atlantic partners consider their alliance more effective than the United Nations since the North Atlantic Treaty was signed in 1949.
Duration: 01 July 2003 - 20 May 2008
Participants: Ulrich Franke, M.A.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Gunther Hellmann; Prof. James W. Davis, PhD
Project Type: Qualification projekt (dissertation)
Details: NATO’s persistence after the end of the confrontation between the two superpowers is treated as a ‘puzzle’ in International Relations since the early 1990s. In particular, this is true for neorealists who predicted the alliance’s dissolution rather early. After the Soviet threat had passed, so their argument, the Atlantic alliance has lost the ‘glue’ that held it together. Swiftly, a debate developed, in the course of which neorealism was challenged by a couple of other ap-proaches. But in spite of their striking arguments most of the answers to the question of the conditions of the possibility of NATO’s persistence after the end of the block confrontation do not follow from a research process that operated according to logic of reconstruction. Instead, the solutions proposed so far are either pure opinions or sticking to logic of subsumtion. In contrast to logic of reconstruction, logic of subsumtion characterizes research where the subject matter is not treated inside-out – or: reconstructed – but subsumed under categories that were formulated in advance and put on it outside-in. While in this way the possibility to gain new insights is minimised, the dissertation aims to present a solution to the puzzle of NATO’s persistence that rests on an alternative method. Strictly operating according to logic of reconstruction, this alternative is based on the idea that all subject matters in the social world have sense and meaning and thus can be interpreted as text. In particular, five documents by the Atlantic alliance’s highest bodies are analyzed here. Guided by the procedures of ‘objective hermeneutics’, a methodology developed by the sociologist Ulrich Oevermann, the documents are dissected in their smallest particles of sense and meaning and interpreted sequence for sequence. Moreover, the documents will only be selected in the course of the research process and not in advance. In the end, the most decisive condition of the possibility of NATO’s persistence turns out to be the following: The Atlantic partners think of their alliance as being more effective than the United Nations, believe it to be better able to realize the principles of the UN-Charter and try to enhance its legitimacy by directly challenging the UN Security Council. At the same time, each lack of consensus among the allies swiftly tends to lead to problems on the level of their identification with NATO and to the alliance’s self-blockade.