Welcome to Zlatan’s home – European Sports Management Conference 2018 in Malmö

easm2018(That’s me!)

 

Presentations, discussion, and drinks – this is (or almost was) my September. Conference season is the best time of the year, and from September 5th to 8th I found my way to Malmö, Sweden, to attend the European Sports Management Conference, lovingly called “EASM” (which sounds a lot like ‘Eeee-sum’). This was my first time attending a conference with solely sports management folks, for whom the effects of the media only play a small role in their overall discipline.

Anyway, I’ve heard many interesting talks, and also gave my own, called “The Footy Girls of Tumblr – How Women Communicate in the Online Football Fandom. Insights from The US, The UK, and Germany”. I talked about how the social network platform Tumblr is a “safe space” for young female football fans [to my American friends: of course, I’m talking about real football], who talk among themselves, without men or boys interfering. “Interfering” sounds harsh, but as research found, the discourse of sports being a male domain is replicated online, and women find themselves marginalised in it (see what Hardin, Zhong and Corrigan 2011 have to say). So, Tumblr is a space to live the football fandom in more than one way, e.g. by liveblogging during matches, by creating art featuring football players and team, or by discussing information that the media picks up on late or never. Of course, the Tumblr football fandom also has its challenges, like over the top rivalries between teams and their fans, but, all in all, it has proven to be a valuable place to hang out for my interviewees. Oh, and I had to change my subtitle – in the end, I interviewed Tumblr users from ten countries, and not three… I’m happy that my presentation was received well, and that I could show people that there is indeed a very active female football fandom – it simply likes to stay out of the spotlight.

As the conference was quite big, with almost 500 attendees, I heard so many different talks that’s it’s hard to remember them all. Especially since the management people are quite efficient – there was scheduled time between individual presentations in a session to switch rooms! I’ve never seen this before, as I am only familiar with the ‘you choose your session, you stick with all presentations in it’ rule. So, I moved quite often between presentations, meaning I could this get a very wide view of what research in sports management deals with. And a few works could definitely benefit from a media perspective…!

Malmö was nice, too, and it was good to know that one could book the ‘Zlatan suite’ at the conference hotel, with big pictures of him on the walls and everything. Why not! In sum, I met many great people, and I’m sure to work with some of them for one project or the other.

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#GOR15 – Internet researchers unite!

gor15Klein(Photo by me)

 

Last week I went to a great conference – the General Online Research Conference (GOR) in Cologne. This has already been my 3rd GOR (in 2012 I won the thesis competition for the best master’s thesis, of which I’m still quite proud), and it has always been great – this GOR was no exception. Well-organised, and a lot of panels I wanted (and did) attend. For everyone who has never heard of this conference; the GOR is a yearly event which brings together theory and practice, mostly via companies presenting how they use the internet for their products. However, science does not play second fiddle to all these marketing and survey companies, and nicely frames all the practical applications.  Four streams made up the programme, namely “Online Research Methodology and Internet Surveys”, “Internet and Society”, “Social Media Research”, and “Applied Online Research”.

I mainly attended the panels in the stream “Internet and Society”, in which mostly social scientists presented their research. I heard about World of Warcraft and addiction to the internet, internet skills of the elderly (thank you, Eszter Hargittai!), citizen science in which citizens add to science with their own data collections, and eye-tracking systems for assessing online preferences – and this is only a fraction of everything. As implied in the name of the conference, all kinds of internet research are welcome, and the programme showed how diverse this field is. Internet research is not just social science, or information science, but finds entry in many disciplines. Not only the presentations showed interesting approaches and results, but there was also a poster session, which is always a nice opportunity to talk about research in depth. I learned something about conference tweets (thanks, Isabella Peters!) and using YouGov panels for getting to know opinions on new topics like the perception of Ebola.

Moreover, there were two excellent keynotes. First, Jon Puleston from Lightspeed GMI talked about how a ‘good’ survey should look like, meaning a survey which is completed by a high percentage of people and yields valuable results. He suggested inserting playful elements, and a kind of ‘gamification’ of the whole process – by using pictures instead of mere text, sliders instead of 1-to-5 scales for measuring preferences like “I fully agree”, and telling a story instead of just asking questions. I think that this advice is mostly interesting for marketing efforts, however, social scientists can learn a lot from this. The second keynote was given by Suzy Moat from the University of Warwick, and she was telling the audience about the possibilities of using “big data” for predicting the stock market, and how FlickR metadata from the photographs uploaded can tell things about a region or country.

Of course, I also gave a presentation. I told my audience about my research, and how parliamentarians use information and transparency measures on their personal websites. I was not only happy about how well the presentation went (phew!), but also about the great questions (especially thanks to Dominic Nyhuis, who also gave a very interesting presentation on using vote advice applications for assessing political preferences)– it’s always good to hear what can be done next, and there is definitely a lot to do in my post-doc phase… well, all in all, I attended as many sessions as possible, met great people, and already wait for the call for GOR16!


gor15-2klein(Photo by me)

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Conference Report: Back from the USA!

eusa_schild(My own photograph)

 

Well, I went to the United States of America to attend a conference. It was a great experience, and I would like to share a few impressions.

I went to the 13th Biennial European Union Studies Association Conference (short: EUSA) in Baltimore, Maryland, a nice city just an hour away from Washington, D.C.. EUSA is quite a big conference which is solely dedicated to European Studies, and everything in that area may presented here, from papers on defence policies to European directives on wine regulation (I’m not kidding here! Check out panel 1J in the program!). Around 500 people were there, and a plethora of panel sessions were on at the same time over the three conference days.

First of all, having to decide on a single panel (out of approximately eleven on at the same time) every time was not easy. Many topics were interesting to me, however, I often attended panels which discussed the European Parliament or representation – topics which are very close to my own research. So I listened to talks on the “The Implications of the European Parliament’s Budgetary for Democracy in the EU” (Asli Baysal, University of Florida) and “The Role of EP Administrators in the EU Policy Process” (Christine Neuhold, Maastricht University), for example, but also to many, many more. All panel sessions were not only highly interesting, but also gave my insight when deciding on what to do next in my own project – after all, EU Studies often suffer from the same problems, e.g. from not being theoretically relevant (enough) outside of the sub-discipline.

I was on panel 10E „Inside the European Parliament and the Commission“, which was chaired and discussed by Wilhelm Lehmann (European Parliament). There were four presentations, including my own. Bjørn Høyland (University of Oslo) and Sara Hobolt (London School of Economics) (the third, but absentee author was Simon Hix, also from the London School of Economics) started the panel with their paper on „Career Paths in Legislative Activities of Members of the European Parliament“ and gave great insights on what the Members of the EP do after their time in parliament is over. The next presentation was given by Jessica Fortin-Rittberger (GESIS) and Berthold Rittberger (University of Munich) and concerned „Electoral Rules or Weak Diffusion of Gender Equality Norms? Explaining National Differences in Women’s Representation in the European Parliament“. They researched what determines why women are much more represented in the European Parliament than in national parliaments. The last presentation, apart from my own, was called „A Man’s World? Gender, Networking and Careers in the European Commission“ and given by Hussein Kassim (and co-written by Sara Conolly, both University of East Anglia). They studied very similar topic as the presentation before, but with a focus on the European Commission.
My own presentation went well, was well attended, and I am glad I got many useful comments on how to proceed with my PhD thesis. Of course, I was excited and nervous when I went on to the speaker’s desk, but everything, from handling the technology to the delivery of the actual speech, went well. I guess one really does grow with the challenge!

Apart from getting comments on my work, I also met many interesting people who I hope to see again in the future. I recognised quite a few names in the program, authors I read during my university studies – seeing them in person was quite the experience, too! Speaking of that, Andrew Moravcsik gave a talk on one of the evenings – and even though I did not agree with quite a few of his points (to cut a long story short: some of his opinions were just too strong for my taste), his speech was compelling.

All in all, EUSA was a great conference, and I hope I will be able to attend again in two years.

eusa_panel(Photograph by me – my panel from left to right:
Hussein Kassim, Jessica Fortin-Rittberger, Berthold Rittberger, me,
Bjørn Høyland, Wilhelm Lehmann, Sara Hobolt)

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