School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications

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    Explaining provincial government health expenditures in China: evidence from panel data 2007–2013
    Tan, X (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2017-07-03)
    Background: Since the mid-2000s, the Chinese government has increased government health expenditures (GHE) significantly to address widespread complaints about health delivery. This study examines the real per capita provincial GHE over the period 2007–2013 to identify the determinants of provincial GHE during the most recent round of health reforms. Methods: A range of theoretically grounded socioeconomic indicators were collected from the China Statistical Yearbooks and then factored to reduce the number of highly correlated indicators. Maps were drawn to visualise the spatial patterns of key variables and fixed-effects regressions were run to test relationships between the real per capita provincial GHE and various variables. GMM estimators were used to address endogeneity problems. Results: Key determinants of provincial GHE in China include the real per capita budgetary deficits, economy, and industrial structure (two factors composed from an exploratory factor analysis). Increasing 1000 yuan real per capita budgetary deficits was expected to increase the real per capita GHE by 34 yuan. A one-unit increase in the economy was associated with a 249 yuan higher real per capita GHE, while a one-unit increase in the industrial structure was expected to decrease the real per capita GHE by 33 yuan. Conclusions: The findings of this study reveal a worrisome picture: potential inefficiencies of the central government’s funding efforts and the overwhelming importance of economic development for GHE.
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    The Impact of Jihadist Foreign Fighters on Indigenous Secular-Nationalist Causes: Contrasting Chechnya and Syria
    Rich, B ; Conduit, D (TAYLOR & FRANCIS INC, 2015-02-01)
    Jihadist foreign fighters have become common in civil conflicts in Muslim countries. While research exists on the impact they have upon returning home, less attention has been given to their influence on the opposition cause that they mobilize in support of. This article looks at the impact that jihadist foreign fighters on the Chechen and Syrian resistance causes, evaluating their influence on oppositional cohesion and ideology, domestic and international perceptions of the movements, and on governmental narratives regarding the conflicts the foreign fighters engage in. It is concluded that foreign fighters have overwhelmingly damaged the Chechen and Syrian opposition movements, making the likelihood of opposition success more remote.
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    Foreign Fighters, Human Rights and Self-Determination in Syria and Iraq: Decoding the Humanitarian Impact of Foreign Fighters in Practice
    Conduit, D ; Rich, B (Brill, 2016-01-01)
    Foreign fighters have become inextricably linked to perceptions of human rights abuses in the Syria and Iraq wars, particularly since the Islamic State group founded its caliphate. This paper explores the human rights impact of foreign fighters in the conflicts, noting that while foreign fighters have been involved in grave human rights abuses, such behavior has not been uniform and must be differentiated by group and role. In this regard, it is argued that while foreign fighters have overwhelmingly had a negative impact on most human rights indicators, fighters in some groups have positively impacted the Right to Self-Determination. Further, the paper notes that while foreign fighters have been large-scale perpetrators of human rights abuses, one must also consider the propaganda value of such acts because foreign fighter-led violence is more newsworthy globally than local-led violence.
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    The syrian muslim brotherhood and the spectacle of hama
    Conduit, D (Middle East Institute, 2016-03-01)
    The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has been a key diplomatic player in the current Syrian uprising; a role that stands in stark contrast to its reputation among Western authors. This article argues that this chasm between the Brotherhood’s practice and reputation is a legacy of the 1982 Hama massacre. The slaughter has become a “spectacle,” as per the theory of Guy Debord, leading Hama to take on an exaggerated significance in portrayals of the Brotherhood.
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    Political Participation of Islamists in Syria: Examining the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood's Mid-century Democratic Experiment
    Conduit, D (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2019-01-02)
    Accompanying increased participation by Islamists in parliaments across the Middle East in the past two decades, there continues to be a debate as to the sincerity of their commitment to democratic values and systems. Scholars have traditionally pursued the issue through the inclusion/moderation model, or through concepts such as ‘post-Islamism’. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, however, represents a rare case for the study of Islam and democracy because its democratic engagement preceded its later period of violent and ideological radicalism by decades. The group contested elections within the first two years of its formation, meaning that its positions on democracy were ‘moderated’ neither by pluralist political pressures nor by the failure of a previous non-democratic ideology. This article therefore examines the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood's performance in Syria's political processes between 1947 and 1963 as a case study of Islamism and democracy, evaluating substantive indicators of democratic engagement, such as electoral practices, pact formation, policy adaptation and approaches to executive government. Using recent interviews with Brotherhood members, memoirs, archival material and newspapers, the article argues that, during this time, while the Brotherhood was not the most effective political actor, it did demonstrate a reasonably diligent commitment to democracy.
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    The Patterns of Syrian Uprising: Comparing Hama in 1980-1982 and Homs in 2011
    Conduit, D (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2017-01-01)
    Economic grievances that marginalized rural citizens and eroded the Syrian government’s political base are widely considered to have sparked the 2011 uprising. Although the country’s 1980–1982 protests were also blamed on economic factors, commentators to date have largely resisted comparing the events. This article draws parallels between Hama in the lead-up to 1980–1982 and Homs pre-2011, arguing that while there are differences between the uprisings—including the socioeconomic group involved—the root causes of grievance were remarkably similar. Both uprisings followed a redrawing of Syria’s social contract that marginalized a group that had previously had a stake in the Syrian state. In both cases, a new underclass was formed that became the backbone of the political unrest. Although economic factors cannot explain the 2011 uprising in its entirety, this article argues that some of the seed dynamics in 2011 were remarkably similar to 1980–1982.
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    Great Power-Middle Power Dynamics: The Case of China and Iran
    Conduit, D ; Akbarzadeh, S (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2019-05-04)
    Iran is expected to be one of the main beneficiaries of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China and Iran had a track record of cooperation long before the announcement of BRI, developing a highly asymmetric Great Power-Middle Power partnership over the course of three decades. This article asks whether BRI will enable China and Iran to transcend the limitations faced by most Great Power-Middle Power relationships on the basis of Iran’s enhanced strategic economic and geographic value. It is argued that while BRI could benefit from stronger China–Iran ties, Iran’s international posturing has proven a significant hindrance to China, highlighting that entrenched patterns of engagement in Great Power-Middle Power relations are not easily shifted, even in the face of immense economic incentives.
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    Innovation labs and co-production in public problem solving
    McGann, M ; Wells, T ; Blomkamp, E (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2019-12-07)
    Governments are increasingly establishing innovation labs to enhance public problem solving. Despite the speed at which these new units are being established, they have only recently begun to receive attention from public management scholars. This study assesses the extent to which labs are enhancing strategic policy capacity through pursuing more collaborative and citizen-centred approaches to policy design. Drawing on original case study research of five labs in Australia and New Zealand, it examines the structure of lab’s relationships to government partners, and the extent and nature of their activities in promoting citizen-participation in public problem solving.
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    An Ecological Approach to Regulatory Studies?
    Parker, C ; Haines, F (Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2018)
    Regulatory studies has been mainly occupied with addressing the social and economic crises of contemporary capitalism through instrumentally and responsively rational approaches. This article asks how regulatory scholarship can better respond to the ecological crisis now facing our world and our governance systems alongside social and economic crises. There are both possibilities and problems with instrumentally rational regulatory approaches that see human ecological impact as an externality or market failure and socio-legal approaches to regulatory studies that emphasize the need to attend to the social and political aspects of regulation using a responsively rational approach. A third big shift towards an ecologically rational approach to regulatory studies is needed to comprehend our embeddedness within ecological systems. An ecologically rational approach also calls for an understanding of how multiple, diverse ways of sustainable being can intersect with and challenge current regulatory regimes dominated by an instrumentally rational approach.
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    Figures in space, figuring space: towards a spatial-symbolic framework for understanding youth cultures and identities
    RAVN, S ; Demant, JJ (SAGE Publications (UK and US), 2017)
    This article argues for a need for spatial analyses in the study of youth cultures and youth subjectivities. With this aim, we propose a theoretical framework drawing on concepts from cultural class analysis and human geography. Empirically, the article is based on 10 focus groups with young people (n = 80) in four different parts of Denmark. The interviews included a photo elicitation exercise and the analysis in this article focuses on one particular picture of two young ‘hipster’ men. By using the figure of the hipster as an analytical case, the article illustrates how individual and spatial identities are co-constructed, not just alongside each other (relationally) but also hierarchically. Hence, ‘place-making practices’ are also ‘people-making practices’ and vice versa. Through this, the article engages with discussions in youth studies as well as in human geography about the importance of paying attention to structural inequalities.