Videos: Eurovision and Social ScienceMay 24, 2010 # 2:26 pm # Foreign Policy, International Organizations # 2 Comments
Over at The Monkey Cage, my friend and colleague, Erik Voeten– who hails from The Netherlands– posts on the upcoming Eurovision competition:
Tomorrow the annual Eurovision song contest will be held in Oslo. To the uninitiated: each European country submits a song that is performed live on television. Countries then vote on which song was “the best.” The song contest is one of the most watched non-sporting events in the worldand has given the world ABBA, Celine Dion, the Herreys with their golden boots (pictured above), and so much unintentional comedy that it is hard to know where to start. There is a book devoted to entries that were so terrible that they failed to acquire a single point and a web-site to ranking the worst Eurovision songs of all time (a tough job, please submit nominations in the comments).
Anyway, I am not here to tell you that you can watch all of this live on the internet but to talk about the politics of this all. Whenever “countries” vote on each other, suspicions of political conspiracies abound. With over half a century of data to play with, you would think that (social) scientists have something to say on that. You would be right. Here are some sociologists who think that Eurovision voting reveals the hegemony of the West, economists who find that voting is based more on cultural than political affiliations (other economists then used this as a measure of culture and found that it influences trade), and physicists (gated) who (surprise) use network analysis to analyze voting data. An interesting contribution is this piece in the Journal of Cultural Economics (ungated) which shows that experts are better judges of quality than the general public in that the order in which candidates appear has a smaller influence on expert votes than public votes. Oh, yeah, go check out the Dutch entry this year: it has “sha-la-lie” in the title and a hurdy-gurdy (barrel organ). It will surely do well.
Interesting! I’m not so sure about that Dutch entry! But who can forget Eres tú from the Spanish group Mocedades from Eurovision 1973–