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SOGOLAS Reserach Seminar: Wicked Problems (Peeter Selg)

When: 21.02.2018, at 16:00-18:30
Place: M-648, Mare building, Uus-Sadama 5

European migration crisis as a wicked problem

In the third research seminar of the School of Governance, Law and Society on February 21, 16.00 – 18.30 (room M-648) professor of political analysis Peeter Selg reflects on the European migration crisis as a wicked problem of governance.

Over the recent years the issue of migration in Europe has moved far from being just a matter of administrative capacity to deal with the flows of migrants both inside and outside the EU borders. The problem cuts across many political and policy domains being at the same time a humanitarian crisis; a geopolitical conflict; a security threat; a potentially heavy financial burden; a breakdown of collaboration in the network of EU member states; a political crisis (including the rise of right wing populism), etc. Therefore it is appropriate to view the crisis as a wicked problem.

Unlike simple or complex problems, wicked problems are essentially unsolvable (although they might be to a certain extent governable), but nevertheless have to be dealt with as if solution was possible, since ignoring them is not an option at least in democratic states and societies. Such a paradoxical character of wicked problems makes them a fascinating research object for various recent approaches in the social sciences that presume – equally paradoxically from the viewpoint of common sense – the primacy of relations over entities.

These approaches are referred to as "relational" in the academic literature. Based on his recent and forthcoming work on the "relational turn" in the social sciences professor Selg will put forth a research agenda for a relational approach to both studying and governing wicked problems such as the European migration crisis.

Both the presentation and the following discussion will be in English.