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ELECTION SERIES #8
State regulation of civil society has grown consistently over the past decade, raising concerns over the eroding role of the latter in shaping democratic decision-making. The ERC-funded STATORG project has investigated this issue across several long-lived democracies, considering country-specific regulations and how these affect civil society organisations.
In the current ‘refugee crisis’, the legal protection of refugees represents an important challenge all over Europe. Supported by the ERC, Dr Cathryn Costello questions the current refugee regime, legal framework and current practices to open up new research and policy trajectories.
The effect social media have on political discourse has been subject of intense discussion, especially since the UK referendum and US elections in 2016. A researcher funded by the European Research Council (ERC) is trying to shed light onto the ways politicians use online social networks and the murky world of political algorithms.
What do elections mean for citizens? What happens in the voters’ mind in the polling booth? How do elections’ practical arrangements affect the voter's final choice? The results of Prof. Michael Bruter’s EU/ERC funded research could help governments and Election Management Bodies to optimise democratic processes and improve voters’ satisfaction and turnout.
When war displaces large populations, refugees and their descendants form diasporas. They are far from home and spread across countries, but many remain involved in homeland politics. In a comparative study of diasporas and contested sovereignty from the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East, EU researchers reveal how diasporas can both mitigate and aggravate conflicts.
In just a couple of years, Africa has gone from possessing a total bandwidth availability comparable to that of Norway to having almost one hundred million internet users and seven hundred million mobile users. Could this growth in access to information and communication technologies (ICT) represent an opportunity for economic development? Many have described this moment of transition as "Africa's century", ERC grantee and Oxford scholar Prof Mark Graham, a leading authority on the topic of technology and development, aims to understand this "digital revolution".
A crucial discovery of how the brain functions has been made by EU-funded researchers. ERC Advanced Grant holder Prof. Oscar Marin and his team have shown that brain's 'hardware' - using the computing metaphor - is in fact tuneable and can adapt to internal and external influences. The findings could help develop new therapies for neurological disorders such as epilepsy, which affects around 50 million people globally.
Recent years have seen the emergence of new forms of political engagement, from the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movements in different countries, from online campaigning to community organising. With the support of the ERC, Prof. Engin Isin has led research to explore how different traditions and practices of citizenship from throughout the world are changing the way we think of political participation and activity in Europe.
We normally think of anthropologists studying ‘exotic’ cultures – ancient tribes that live in faraway places. But how about cultures that are closer to home? Professor Rebecca Cassidy has devoted herself to anthropological studies of European cultures of gambling. In the ‘Gambling in Europe’ (GAMSOC) project – funded by the ERC – Prof. Cassidy and her team have taken this a step further, and conducted an anthropological study of the gambling research community itself.
The brain is one of the most energy-consuming organs. It represents only 2% of the weight of an adult but it uses 20% of the energy produced by the body. Efficient energy supply is crucial for the brain so that our memory, mobility and senses can function normally. On the occasion of the ‘Month of the Brain’ in May 2013, ERC Advanced grantee, Prof. David Attwell at University College London (UK) explains the mechanisms through which the brain is powered. Understanding these mechanisms may allow the development, in the long-term, of innovative therapies for cerebrovascular disorders.