RESEARCH – Visualisations from DIPAS Project

The graph depicts asylum seekers who arrived in Austria in the course of 2015 by year of birth, gender and country of origin. For cohorts born between 1975 and 2005 (between 10 and 40 years of age), more men than women applied for asylum in Austria in 2015 across all three countries of origin. Among male asylum seekers, the graph shows a peak for birth cohorts between 1990 and 1997, i.e. asylum seekers between 20 and 27 years of age. For female asylums seekers, this peak is less pronounced. (Source: Austrian Ministry of the Interior – BMI)

The overrepresentation of young men among the recent refugee inflows to Europe can be attributed to a variety of socio-cultural and economic factors. Both physically and financially, the journey to Europe is typically easier to undertake for men than women. The stronger patriarchal orientation of the countries of origin certainly also comes into play. In addition, many young men aim to avoid the military draft in Syria and other countries affected by violent conflict, or flee from being forced into conscription by Islamist groups, including ISIS.

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We want Moore!

Humans tend to think in linear terms. Exponential relationships just exceed our imagination. But the key driver of digital progress, Moore’s law, proceeds (still after 40 years) exponentially. The number of transistors on a same-spaced unit double every two years. This is one of the reasons why, we fail to grasp the speed of technological progress, not to speak of forecasting it.

MEDIA – Die Zahlen sprechen für sich – Wie Massendaten die Wissenschaft revolutionieren

This article has recently been published in freiraum 1/2017. The text is a translation of the article “Scientist” from the column “Ideas in the Second Machine Age”.

Ein Wissenschaftler ist eine Person, die sich an einer systematischen Aktivität beteiligt, um Wissen zu erlangen, das die natürliche Welt beschreibt und vorhersagt. Im engeren Sinne ist ein Wissenschaftler jemand, der sich mit einer wissenschaftlichen Methode beschäftigt. In den maßgeblichen empirischen Wissenschaften basieren wissenschaftliche Methoden auf Modellierung und Testbarkeit.

Seit Jahrzehnten beruhte die moderne empirische Wissenschaft hierbei auf dem Prinzip der Falsifikation. Theorie, visualisiert im Kopf des Forschers, wurde durch Hypothesen formuliert. Entlang dieser Hypothesen konnten Modelle konstruiert werden, überprüfbare Modelle, die man in Experimenten entweder bestätigt oder abgelehnt sah. Bevor eine kausale Beziehung zwischen zwei Beobachtungen aufgestellt werden konnte, mussten Forscher zuerst die zugrundeliegenden theoretischen Mechanismen formulieren. Ohne theoretische Annahmen könnten Relationen ebenso auch durch den Zufall bedingt sein. Theoretische Modelle unterscheiden zwischen Korrelation und Kausalität.

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COLUMN – Ideas in the Second Machine Age: SCIENTIST

A scientist is a person engaging in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge that describes and predicts the natural world [1]. In a more restricted definition, a scientist is somebody, who engages in a scientific method. For most of all (serious) empirical sciences this scientific method is based on modelling, testability, and falsification. Continue reading “COLUMN – Ideas in the Second Machine Age: SCIENTIST”

COLUMN – Ideas in the Second Machine Age: THE POPE

Okay, okay, I confess, father. I have sinned. I have tricked my readers. Neither is ‘the pope’ a real job description nor is it anywhere close from replacement by AI and machines. But, since you are already here reading these lines, let us explore a new perspective together. Continue reading “COLUMN – Ideas in the Second Machine Age: THE POPE”

COLUMN – Ideas in the Second Machine Age: ACCOUNTANT

One of the very first classes, during the first year of my bachelor’s degree, was on accounting. I had to take this course in order to gain more credits for a module, which I had decided to complete asap. Now, looking back and having listened to dozens and dozens of lectures in many degrees and universities all over the world, I say that this first lecture on accounting, was one of the most boring classes, I have ever attended in my life. Continue reading “COLUMN – Ideas in the Second Machine Age: ACCOUNTANT”

COLUMN – Ideas in the Second Machine Age: INTRO (About the status quo)

A dear friend of mine and trusted colleague recently said over supper; “we must not accept the status quo.” “The status quo is anything but our friend” he continued. “It (the status quo) would doom me to be an old Ossi (a condescending description for somebody from the former so-called German Democratic Republic) forever.” (…and me a boneheaded hayseed, I thought to myself). “We must not accept what people tell us to be the rule, the way we ought to live our life, to apply the same blue print over and over again. We must not accept the status quo”. In the end, we both agreed not to.

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RESEARCH – Bonds and Bridges, and Between: An Empirical Analysis of Group-Based Trust

Full article here: Stephany F. and F. Braesemann (2016). Bonds and Bridges, and Between: An Empirical Analysis of Group-Based Trust

Social capital is often represented by generalized trust – the degree to which one trusts ’most (unknown) people’. It is assumed to be enhanced by diverse group interactions. In the social capital literature, it is opposed by particularized trust, which represents our mutual confidence in individuals close to us, for example, family members and friends.

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RESEARCH – Who are Your Joneses?

Full article here: Stephany, F. Soc Indic Res (2016)

Trust is a good approach to explain the functioning of markets, institutions or society as a whole. It is a key element in almost every commercial transaction over time and might be one of the main explanations of economic success and development. Explaining the roots and patterns of trust across time and space, researchers have identified economic inequality to be one of the main hazards to the creation of trust. Continue reading “RESEARCH – Who are Your Joneses?”

RESEARCH – United in Diversity? An Empirical Investigation on Europe’s Regional Social Capital

Full article here: Braesemann & Stephany (2016). United in Diversity? An Empirical Investigation on Europe’s Regional Social Capital

Aiming to explain the European divide with respect to social and political values, scholars in the past have relied on a simplified four- (or even two-) dimensional regime model which tranches the continent according to the social capacities of its inhabitants. This “cartography” of “Social Europe” proves to be outdated by the presented findings. Continue reading “RESEARCH – United in Diversity? An Empirical Investigation on Europe’s Regional Social Capital”

MEDIA – Interview – Lea Volke (Blue Hour)

(originally published in Varsity 2016, Cambridge)

Fabian Stephany talks to director Lea Volke about her new short film thriller, Blue Hour

Blue hour, or golden hour, is the time when day changes into night and vice versa. Contrast and transcendence are the recurring themes of the psycho-thriller short film of the same name, based and made in Cambridge. “The storyline was born in the late autumn days of November”, director Lea Volke reminisces, Continue reading “MEDIA – Interview – Lea Volke (Blue Hour)”

MEDIA – Interview – Gretchen Duschke-Klotz

(originally published in Varsity 2016, Cambridge)

The wife of Rudi Dutschke, spokesman for the German 1960s Student Movement, talks to Fabian Stephany about revolutions, feminism and their time in Cambridge

Gretchen Dutschke-Klotz (GDK) is a contemporary witness of German history. She tells the story of how the 1960s Student Movement in Germany ultimately transformed the country to a modern and democratic society. At that time, Germany was still struggling with its undemocratic past. Continue reading “MEDIA – Interview – Gretchen Duschke-Klotz”

MEDIA – Comment – We must not forget the fields of Flanders

(originally published in Varsity 2016, Cambridge)

These are troubled times for Europe. Right at the heart of the continent, in the administrative capital of the EU, bombs detonate, people suffer and die. Europe has been struck by shocking terror attacks, but avowals of solidarity follow the fading bursts of bombs. In the face of the horror which threatens our shared values, Europeans show whole-hearted and honest compassion for each other. Continue reading “MEDIA – Comment – We must not forget the fields of Flanders”

MEDIA – Interview – Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger

(originally published in Varsity 2016, Cambridge)

The former Justice minister of Germany discusses surveillance, Snowden, and ‘the right to be forgotten’ with Fabian Stephany.

Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger is one of Germany’s most prominent advocates of human and civil rights. As a member of Germany’s liberals, she served as Federal Minister of Justice in the cabinet of Kohl from 1992 to 1996 and Merkel until 2013. Continue reading “MEDIA – Interview – Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger”

MEDIA – Interview – Leszek Balcerowicz

(originally published in Varsity 2016, Cambridge)

Fabian Stephany speaks to the economist and former Deputy PM of Poland about the Euro, ‘monetary addiction’, and the power of civil society

Leszek Balcerowicz came to Cambridge to talk about nothing less important than the future of the Eurozone. Certainly, he is a man for the bigger picture. After the liberation of Poland, the well-recognised Professor of Economics and Statistics joined the Solidarity Party, became Deputy Prime Minister and the first Minister of Finance of the Third Republic of Poland; he reformed the post-communist system to a modern, flourishing economy, with a “shock therapy”, the “Balcerowicz plan”.

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RESEARCH – Whose Realm, His Trust – Regional Dispersions of Generalized Trust in Europe

Full article here: Stephany (2015). Whose Realm, His Trust – Regional Dispersions of Generalized Trust in Europe

Trust explains the functioning of markets, institutions or society as a whole. It is a key element in almost every commercial transaction over time and might be one of the main explanations of economic success and development. The determinants of (generalized) trust have been investigated in the past. Most of the scholars have focused on aggregate (national) levels of trust. Continue reading “RESEARCH – Whose Realm, His Trust – Regional Dispersions of Generalized Trust in Europe”

MEDIA – Ignore the Brexiters: The EU still has value

(originally published in Varsity 2016, Cambridge)

Although the EU has its flaws, leaving it won’t solve our problems, says Fabian Stephany

This is a reply to a Comment piece published last week in Varsity entitled ‘It’s time to break the Brexit taboo’. The article started quite promisingly: “70 per cent of 18-24 year olds [think] that we should remain in the EU“. Great news! Unfortunately, as on many other questions, generations are divided. The same ORB poll claimed that only 38 per cent of those 65 and older would like to stay. Interestingly, those who still have a life with the EU ahead of them seem to like the idea, and I guess this applies to the majority of Cambridge students, too. Dear author: how and why would you like to change your generation’s mind? Like most Eurosceptics, the author refers to four main issues, namely: migration, economics, bureaucracy, and democracy. Continue reading “MEDIA – Ignore the Brexiters: The EU still has value”