Curious how my colleague Alexandre Afonso and I have revamped our Research Methods course from a traditional seminar format into a flipped classroom, using blended learning? The first instalment in a new blog series on our course has appeared on the Active Learning in Political Science blog!
Here’s a sneak peak:
The idea behind our Research Methods 3.0 course was simple: in order to be able to spend more class time on practicing hands-on research skills, we needed to move some of our teaching online. In our department, graduate courses often only meet once a week and the duration of a typical course is seven weeks, too short a time to cover the full range of social science methodologies. We quickly learned that our students did not need such a broad survey to carry out their own thesis projects. This led to our second decision: not only would part of the course be moved online, but it would also be modular, allowing students to pick and choose which research methods they wanted to specialize in.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be discussing how we built the online environment for our flipped classroom, the set-up of our offline workshops, using the flipped classroom for collaborative teaching and what our students thought of our flip.
Today and tomorrow I will be attending the international meeting on the “Performativity and Governance of Actuarial Models,” hosted by the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’homme in Paris. I will be presenting parts of my research on the financial origins of the Dutch pension system. Looking forward!
My article “Financialisation and the Pension System: Lessons from the United States and the Netherlands” was recently published in the Journal of Modern European History (Vol. 15, No. 4). The article explores the financialisation of private pensions in the United States and the Netherlands. It proposes two distinct arguments. First, the article shows that both the American and the Dutch pension systems stand out internationally for their high degrees of capitalisation and the absence of substantive investment restrictions for pension funds. The article posits that both pension systems are highly financialised, yet the process of financialisation has proceeded along different historical paths and within different institutional contexts.
Second, the article maintains that the financialisation of pension systems is accompanied by its own political dynamics. In both political economies, different groups of actors (employers, labour unions, financial professionals) have made claims over the growing concentration of pension assets. Here, particular emphasis is given to the role of the state. It shows how since the mid-1970s, both American and Dutch pension funds have altered their investment strategies, abandoning public debt as the dominant investment category.
The article explains this change in terms of the rising popularity of modern portfolio theory and the immense growth of pension capital in need of new investment options. As austerity politics have made governments more dependent on financial markets, pension funds have become more assertive in leveraging their assets and demanding political reform which are in the interest of the financial industries. Financialisation has thus fundamentally altered the balance of power between the state and financial market actors.
I am very grateful to have received this Citation of Excellence award from Emerald Publishing, for my article “Making Sense of Financialization” in Socio-Economic Review (available here). More than anything, this award shows that financialization continues to be an important topic for academic research. It is a great encouragement for my new projects on financialization, such as the Routledge International Handbook of Financialization (with Philip Mader and Daniel Mertens).
Last week, Routledge published the new edited volume by Valerie Boussard, Finance at Work, to which I contributed a chapter. From the back cover: “Finance at Work explores the world of financiers, be they finance-oriented CEOs, CFOs, financial journalists, mergers and acquisitions’ advisors or wealth managers.” The edited volume results from the Finance at Work symposium, held in 2014 at the University of Nanterre Paris Ouest.
My chapter, based on the paper I presented at the conference, analyzes how the field of finance is constituted through its interactions with outsiders. It follows the attempts of the AFL-CIO Committee for the Investment of Union Pension Funds to start its own employee-buyout fund, the Employee Partnership Fund (EPF), in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Based on original archival research, the chapter exposes the social boundaries separating the financial sector from organized labor, while illustrating the diffusion of financial sector norms and practices through the EPF project. In the chapter, I argue that the case of the EPF shows how financial expansion occurs through the socialization of critical outsiders into the world of finance.
A pre-publication version of the chapter can be found here.
Een sneak preview van mijn boek (samen met Sijbren Kuiper), Nederland Pensioenland, is nu verschenen op managementboek.nl. Naar aanleiding van de vijf grootste misverstanden over pensioen bespreken wij de belangrijkste punten uit ons boek.
Hoe is pensioen eigenlijk geregeld in Nederland? Wat gebeurt er met de premies die werknemers betalen? En is er later nog wel geld voor de pensioenen van de huidige generatie jongeren? Experts Sijbren Kuiper en Natascha van der Zwan leggen het uit, en gaan met het publiek in gesprek.
Naar aanleiding van het verschijnen van Nederland Pensioenland. Wat je wilt weten over pensioen (Amsterdam University Press, 2016) bespreken advocaat Sijbren Kuiper en onderzoeker Natascha van der Zwan alle ins en outs van het Nederlandse pensioenstelsel, en buigen zich over de vraag of en hoe het pensioenstelsel stand zal houden in de toekomst. Daarnaast zal de kennis van het publiek getest worden en is er ruim tijd voor vragen uit het publiek. De jonge politicoloog Jasper Simons modereert. Dit alles gebeurt op zeer toegankelijke wijze: je hoeft dus niet al veel te weten over pensioen om aan deze avond deel te nemen.
U kunt zich hier aanmelden voor deze avond.