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Over the past decade, millions of refugees have fled their countries of origin and asked for asylum abroad. Some of these refugees do not receive asylum, but are not deported. Instead they are detained, or denied basic rights of residency, some forced into enclosed camps. Hoping to escape such conditions, they wish to return to unsafe countries, and ask for help from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In such cases, should NGOs and the UN assist refugees to return? Drawing on original data gathered in South Sudan, and existing data from around the world, I argue that they should assist with return if certain conditions are met. First, the UN and NGOs must try to put an end to coercive conditions before helping with return. Secondly, helping with return must not encourage the government to expand the use of coercive policies to encourage more to return. Finally, NGOs and the UN must ensure that refugees are fully informed of the risks of returning. Organizations must either conduct research in countries of origin or lobby the government to allow refugees to visit their countries of origin before making a final decision.
Cascade models explain the roles of the intrepid few who initiate protest and the masses who join when the expected utility of dissent flips from negative to positive. Yet questions remain about what motivates participation between those points on the causal chain, or under any conditions of high risk. To explain these anomalies, this article employs theories of moral identity to explore the interdependence of a facet of decision making that rationalist models typically regard as fixed: individuals’ awareness of and need to express values central to their sense of self. Three mechanisms describe ways that individuals’ responses to early risers trigger moral identity-based motivations for protest. First, by conjuring normative ideals, first movers can activate bystanders’ urge to follow their example in order to earn their own self-respect. Secondly, by demonstrating the joy of agency, early risers can inspire bystanders’ desire to experience the same gratification. Thirdly, by absorbing punishments, early risers can activate onlookers’ sense of moral obligation to contribute to collective efforts. These mechanisms redouble bystanders’ sense of the inherent value of protest, apart from its instrumental utility, and intensify their acceptance of risks, independent of the actual risks anticipated. Original interviews with displaced Syrians about their participation in demonstrations illustrate these processes.
This article uses a replication experiment of ninety-four specifications from sixteen different studies to show the severity of the problem of selection on unobservables. Using a variety of approaches, it shows that membership in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization has a significant effect on a surprisingly high number of dependent variables (34 per cent) that have little or no theoretical relationship to the WTO. To make the exercise even more conservative, the study demonstrates that membership in a low-impact environmental treaty, the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species, yields similarly high false positive rates. The authors advocate theoretically informed sensitivity analysis, showing how prior theoretical knowledge conditions the crucial choice of covariates for sensitivity tests. While the current study focuses on international institutions, the arguments also apply to other subfields and applications.
This article argues that public opinion regarding the legitimacy of income differences is influenced by actual income inequality. When income differences are perceived to be high, the public thinks of larger income inequality as legitimate. The phenomenon is explained by the system justification motivation and other psychological processes that favor existing social arrangements. Three experiments show that personal experiences of inequality as well as information regarding national-level income inequality can affect which income differences are thought of as legitimate. A fourth experiment shows that the system justification motivation is a cause of this effect. These results can provide an empirical basis for future studies to assume that the public reacts to inequality with adapted expectations, not increased demands for redistribution.
Conventional wisdom holds that languages, as ethnic markers, build communities with shared preferences and strong social networks. Consequently, ethnolinguistic homogeneity can facilitate growth. This article challenges this conception of language as a cultural marker. It argues that language is also a practical vehicle of communication; people can be multilingual, and second languages can be learned. Hence language boundaries are neither (1) congruent with ethnic boundaries nor (2) static. If true, the purported advantages of ethnolinguistic homogeneity should also be evident in countries with large populations of non-native speakers conversant in official languages. The study tests this hypothesis using an original cross-national and time-variant measure that captures both mother-tongue speakers and second-language learners. The empirical results are consistent with the understanding of language as an efficiency-enhancing instrument: countries with exogenously high levels of heterogeneity can avoid the ‘growth tragedy’1 by endogenously teaching the official language in schools.
In theory, states can gain security by acquiring internal arms or external allies. Yet the empirical literature offers mixed findings: some studies find arms and allies to be substitutes, while others find them to be complements. This article contends that these conflicting findings are due to scholars failing to consider how regime type influences the choice between arms and allies. Since democracies are highly credible allies, states that form alliances with democracies can confidently reduce their internal arms. This is not the case when states form alliances with non-democracies. This study evaluates the argument using data on military expenditures and defense pacts from 1950 to 2001. Taking steps to account for the potentially endogenous relationship between arms and allies, it finds that democratic alliances are associated with lower levels of military spending.
United Nations (UN) peacekeepers tend to be deployed to ‘hard-to-resolve’ civil wars. Much less is known about where peacekeepers are deployed within a country. However, to assess peacekeepers’ contribution to peace, it matters whether they are deployed to conflict or relatively safe areas. This article examines subnational UN peacekeeping deployment, contrasting an ‘instrumental’ logic of deployment versus a logic of ‘convenience’. These logics are evaluated using geographically and temporally disaggregated data on UN peacekeepers’ deployment in eight African countries between 1989 and 2006. The analysis demonstrates that peacekeepers are deployed on the frontline: they go where conflict occurs, but there is a notable delay in their deployment. Furthermore, peacekeepers tend to be deployed near major urban areas.
The claim that income drives political preferences is at the core of political economy theory, yet empirical estimates of income’s effect on political behavior range widely. Drawing on traditions in economic history and anthropology, we propose using height as a proxy for economic well-being. Using data from the British Household Panel Study, this article finds that taller individuals are more likely to support the Conservative Party, support conservative policies and vote Conservative; a one-inch increase in height increases support for Conservatives by 0.6 per cent. As an extension, the study employs height as an instrumental variable for income, and finds that each additional thousand pounds of annual income translates into a 2–3 percentage point increase in the probability of supporting the Conservatives, and that income drives political beliefs and voting in the same direction.
This article presents an examination of class-based inequalities in turnout at British elections. These inequalities have substantially grown, and the class divide in participation has become greater than the class divide in vote choice between the two main parties. To account for class inequalities in turnout three main hypotheses – to do with policy indifference, policy alienation and social alienation – are tested. The results from the British context suggest that the social background of political representatives influences the ways in which voters participate in the political process, and that the decline in proportion of elected representatives from working-class backgrounds is strongly associated with the rise of working-class abstention.
Amid growing evidence of ‘unequal democracy’ in the United States, labor unions can play a potentially important role by ensuring that low-income citizens’ opinions receive more equal consideration when elected officials make policy decisions. To investigate this possibility, this article evaluates the relationship between labor union strength and representational equality across states and finds evidence that states with higher levels of union membership weigh citizens’ opinions more equally in the policy-making process. In contrast, there is no relationship between the volume of labor union contributions to political campaigns in a state and the equality of its political representation. These findings suggest that labor unions promote greater political equality primarily by mobilizing their working-class members to political action and, more broadly, underscore the important role that organized labor continues to play in shaping the distribution of political power across American society.
This article investigates the deliberative abilities of ordinary citizens in the context of ‘EuroPolis’, a transnational deliberative poll. Drawing upon a philosophically grounded instrument, an updated version of the Discourse Quality Index (DQI), it explores how capable European citizens are of meeting deliberative ideals; whether socio-economic, cultural and psychological biases affect the ability to deliberate; and whether opinion change results from the exchange of arguments. On the positive side, EuroPolis shows that the ideal deliberator scoring high on all deliberative standards does actually exist, and that participants change their opinions more often when rational justification is used in the discussions. On the negative side, deliberative abilities are unequally distributed: in particular, working-class members are less likely to contribute to a high standard of deliberation.
This article develops a framework for assessing thought experiments in normative political theory. It argues that we should distinguish between relevant and irrelevant hypotheticals according to a criterion of modality. Relevant hypotheticals, while far-fetched, construct imaginary cases that are possible for us, here and now. Irrelevant hypotheticals conjure up imaginary cases that are barely conceivable at all. To establish this claim, the article interrogates, via a discussion of Susan Sontag and Judith Butler’s accounts of representations of violence, the frames through which hypotheticals construct possible worlds, and concludes that some frames are better than others at sustaining a link with the world as we know it. Frames that disrupt this link can be charged with failing to offer action-guidance.