European Political Polarization Update 1: Planning, and Ready to Go!

The last few weeks of my life have been consumed with tons of emails, planning, and online bookings. My research focuses on public opinion polarization in Europe. This past spring, I studied the level of political polarization and public opinion polarization in the mass public. But polarization among the public is not the full picture. The level of political polarization at the elite level is still incredibly important. This polarization has been studied in depth through analysis of contemporary history (and other quantitative means) by political science professors, focusing on the United States (see Morris Fiorina’s on this). However, there has been virtually no work on this subject for nations in Europe. My project intends to fill that gap by interviewing political experts such as political scientists and scholars of contemporary history on elite level polarization. Specifically, this project is focused on Ireland, Great Britain, France, and Germany, and will be looking at the electoral institutions (such as single member districts vs multiseat constituencies).

So, enough with the recap! I bought my plane tickets, decided how long I’ll be in each country, and booked some hostels (highly recommend http://hostelworld.com, since they have great reviews!), and I am ready to go. In terms of gear, I’m traveling with a backpack that looks something like this:

High Sierra Summit 45 Backpack

My flight leaves at 7:20 pm tomorrow and I am beyond excited. My last few weeks have been filled with emailing tons of possible interviewees back and forth and crossing my fingers that they would be free during my travel dates. I was hoping to get 1 or 2 people to interview per country. Instead, I felt incredibly lucky with the average of four people per country that I ended up with!

My backpack, all buckles clasped, sits in the living room. I’m excited to meet with some of the world’s leading political experts and a chance to talk with them about political polarization in Europe. I’ll be gone for just shy of one month, so when I get back, the work of transcribing the audio transcripts and then compiling them all into a research report will begin. As for technology, I’m taking just my cell phone, so I’ll probably post a summary of the trip when I return as my next blog post! See everyone in a month!