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Informal political processes like polls, petitions and protests have become easier to organize in the social media age. In this video, STEPHAN LAUERMANN explores both the nature of these processes and how we can assess their effectiveness. Using game theory to analyze three dimensions of participants’ motives for taking part in informal political processes, Lauermann finds that where participation involves costs, this can aid credibility and thereby help to make a process more effective. With evident implications for social media, Lauermann’s research further demonstrates that small fundamental changes can significantly alter the nature of polls, petitions and protests rendering them difficult to predict and, potentially, very powerful.


Stephan Lauermann is Professor of Economics at the University of Bonn. Having completed his PhD at Bonn, Lauermann has previously worked at Yale University and at the University of Michigan. His main research interests include bargaining, auctions, search and matching. Associate Editor of Theoretical Economics, Lauermann also sits on the Editorial Board of the Review of Economic Studies.


University of Bonn (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn)

Bonn is one of the large universities in Germany, with around 36,000 students, 550 professors, 6,500 other staff staff. It offers a wide disciplinary spectrum comprising some 200 different degree programmes, from Agricultural Science to Tibetan Studies. This diversity is what characterizes Bonn as a full-range university with a strong international orientation. In many international university rankings Bonn is placed among the 100 best universities in the world.Its academic and research profile features internationally renowned specializations in the fields of Mathematics, Physics/Astronomy, Economics, Chemistry, Pharma Research, Biosciences, Genetic Medicine, Neurosciences and Philosophy/Ethics. Other disciplines, such as Geography and Law, are of outstanding importance within the German research scene. The Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn is rooted in a long tradition going back almost 200 years. It was founded in 1818 by Friedrich-Wilhelm III, the Prussian king whose name it bears. Imbued with the spirit of Wilhelm von Humboldt, the university quickly joined the circle of Germany's most distinguished universities and became a major pole of attraction for leading scholars as well as students.The list of famous professors ranges from the astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Argelander (1799-1875), through the chemist August Kekulé von Stradonitz (1829–1896) and political economist Josef Schumpeter (1883–1950) to the philologist Ernst Robert Curtius (1886–1956) and the theologists Karl Barth (1886–1968) and Joseph Ratzinger (born 1927), now Pope Benedict XVI. Bonn's best-known students include Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Konrad Adenauer. The university is proud of a long list of award-winning scientists and scholars, with about twenty Leibniz Prize winners and around thirty ERC grantees. In the last three decades two professors have received the Nobel Prize: Wolfgang Paul (for Physics, 1989) and Reinhard Selten (for Economics, 1994). (Source: University of Bonn)
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Original publication

Informal Elections with Dispersed Information

others, Ekmekci Mehmet and Lauermann Stephan
Published in 2019

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Public Protests and Policy Making

Battaglini Marco
The Quarterly Journal of Economics
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