Jean Monnet/GGP Fellow
Humboldt University Berlin
Konstantin Vössing is Jean Monnet Fellow at the Robert Schuman Center of the European University Institute (EUI) during the academic year 2015/16, while on leave from his position at Humboldt University (HU) Berlin. He is a political scientist with research and teaching interests in European integration, public opinion, comparative politics of advanced industrialized countries, contentious politics, and political development. Konstantin Vössing received his PhD in Political Science from Ohio State University in August 2008, specializing in Comparative Politics and Political Psychology. He has had previous appointments as John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellow at the Center for European Studies (CES) at Harvard University from September 2013 to August 2014, and as lecturer of Political Science and International Studies at Ohio State University during the academic year 2008/09. He has conducted research about strategic decision-making of political mobilizers in the labor movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While at the EUI, he will continue to pursue a research project about the formation of public opinion toward European integration. Combining experimental and comparative historical methods, this research analyzes the influence that political elites exercise on citizen views through political explanations.
The Formation of Public Opinion about European Integration
Combining experiments, quantitative text analysis, and comparative case studies, this research analyzes the influence that political elites exercise on public opinion about European integration. I argue that political elites can transform citizen attitudes, while the effectiveness of their efforts is highly contingent on the political explanations they use to justify their positions, the features of their varying audiences, and the dynamic nature of party competition.
Since the current crisis of European governance is to some extent the result of public opposition to Europeanization, studying the capacity of elites to influence citizen views is critical for evaluating the sheer feasibility of European integration. Moreover, investigating elite influence on public opinion and its ramifications for governance, party systems, and policy-making addresses fundamental questions about the nature of democratic politics at both the national and the European level.
A series of ten political psychological experiments form the core of the project. The experiments focus on the mechanisms through which political explanations affect public opinion in conjunction with individual dispositions and the structure of party conflict. The experimental findings are complemented by the investigation of political explanations “in the real world” through quantitative text analysis and a comparative study of national constellations of political conflict and discourse in a selection of European countries.