On February 5, 2019, the Center for Positive/Empirical Analysis of Political Economy of the Top Global University Project at Waseda University welcomed Dr. Jaemin Shim, Research Fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg and organized a seminar entitled “Mind the Gap! Mass-Elite Discrepancies in Old and New Democracies.” Dr. Shim specializes in comparative politics with a focus on welfare states and gender politics in East Asian democracies. He is also currently serving as a director of the workshop titled “Convergence versus Divergence of Mass-Elite Political Cleavages: Conceptual, Methodological, and Theoretical Innovations” in European Consortium for Political Research.
In this seminar, Dr. Shim gave his presentation on a project on comparative party politics, in particular its research question, research design, and database which is currently being constructed. Based on his thorough literature review, he found that existing studies on mass-elite policy congruence/discrepancies dealt with mostly Western European democracies but not many studies on other regions are found. In addition, their focus is limited to only the degree of discrepancies (i.e. to what extent elites’ position is closer to voters’ one). To overcome these shortcomings, it is necessary to stretch the regional domains to old and new democracies in all regions and to explore not only the degree of discrepancies but also structure, contents, and timing in political divisions in each country. He also shared the ongoing database project on mass-elite congruence, which will cover more than 100 countries, with an example of Taiwan case. In the Q and A session, discussions on how to conceptualize discrepancies, cleavages, and political divisions as well as how to frame the project with such concepts took place.