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This article leverages a phenomenon of racial reclassification in Brazil to shed new light on the processes of identity politicization. Conventional wisdom tells us that race mixture, fluid racial boundaries, and stigmatized blackness lead Brazilians to change their racial identifications—to reclassify—toward whiteness. But in recent years, Brazilians have demonstrated a newfound tendency to reclassify toward blackness. The author argues that this sudden reversal is the unintended consequence of state-led educational expansion for the lower classes. Educational expansion has increased the exposure of newly mobile citizens to information, social networks, and the labor market, leading many to develop racialized political identities and choose blackness. The author develops and tests this argument by drawing on in-depth interview data, systematic analyses of national survey and longitudinal census data, and original survey experiments. This article contributes a novel account of identity politicization and emphasizes the interaction between social structures and citizenship institutions in these processes.
Most accounts of East Asian economic growth have focused on the role of developmental states in successful industrialization. This article expands and challenges that framework by showing that rural policy was different from industrial policy. A key finding is that for more than a century, East Asian states have relied on mass mobilization campaigns rather than on technocratic planning and market-conforming institutions to achieve rural development. Based on case studies of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China, the author argues that three main factors explain the rise of campaign states: revolutionary traditions, rural populism, and policy learning. A brief assessment of outcomes illustrates the payoffs and costs of campaigns and the practical considerations that drive them. The author’s analysis offers a new perspective on the East Asian model and disputes the widely held view that campaigns are tragic exercises in social control, demonstrating instead that they were central to the region’s rural transformation.
Dictators depend on a committed bureaucracy to implement their policy preferences. But how do they induce loyalty and effort within their civil service? The authors study indoctrination through forced military service as a cost-effective strategy for achieving this goal. Conscription allows the regime to expose recruits, including future civil servants, to intense “political training” in a controlled environment, which should improve system engagement. To test this hypothesis, the authors analyze archival data on over 370,000 cadres from the former German Democratic Republic. Exploiting the introduction of mandatory service in the gdr in 1962 for causal identification, they find a positive effect of conscription on bureaucrats’ system engagement. Additional analyses indicate that this effect likely did not result from deep norm internalization. Findings are more compatible with the idea that political training familiarized recruits with elite preferences, allowing them to behave strategically in accordance with the rules of the game.
Do pandemics have lasting consequences for political behavior? The authors address this question by examining the consequences of the deadliest pandemic of the last millennium: the Black Death (1347–1351). They claim that pandemics can influence politics in the long run if the loss of life is high enough to increase the price of labor relative to other factors of production. When this occurs, labor-repressive regimes, such as serfdom, become untenable, which ultimately leads to the development of proto-democratic institutions and associated political cultures that shape modalities of political engagement for generations. The authors test their theory by tracing the consequences of the Black Death in German-speaking Central Europe. They find that areas hit hardest by that pandemic were more likely to adopt inclusive political institutions and equitable land ownership patterns, to exhibit electoral behavior indicating independence from landed elite influence during the transition to mass politics, and to have significantly lower vote shares for Hitler’s National Socialist Party in the Weimar Republic’s fateful 1930 and July 1932 elections.
Apology diplomacy promises to assuage historical grievances held by foreign publics, yet in practice appears to ignite domestic backlash, raising questions about its efficacy. This article develops a theory of how political apologies affect public approval of an apologizing government across domestic and foreign contexts. The authors test its implications using large-scale survey experiments in Japan and the United States. In the surveys, the authors present vignettes about World War II grievances and randomize the nature of a government apology. They find that apology-making, both as statements acknowledging wrongdoing and as expressions of remorse, boosts approval in the recipient state. But in the apologizing state, backlash is likely among individuals with strong hierarchical group dispositions—manifested as nationalism, social-dominance orientation, and conservatism—and among those who do not consider the recipient a strategically important partner. This microlevel evidence reveals how leaders face a crucial trade-off between improving support abroad and risking backlash at home, with implications for the study of diplomatic communication and transitional justice.
Why has voter turnout declined in democracies all over the world? This article draws on findings from microlevel studies and theorizes two explanations: generational change and a rise in the number of elective institutions. The empirical section tests these hypotheses along with other explanations proposed in the literature—shifts in party/candidate competition, voting-age reform, weakening group mobilization, income inequality, and economic globalization. The authors conduct two analyses. The first analysis employs an original data set covering all post-1945 democratic national elections. The second studies individual-level data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems and British, Canadian, and US national election studies. The results strongly support the generational change and elective institutions hypotheses, which account for most of the decline in voter turnout. These findings have important implications for a better understanding of the current transformations of representative democracy and the challenges it faces.
Do online social networks affect political tolerance in the highly polarized climate of postcoup Egypt? Taking advantage of the real-time networked structure of Twitter data, the authors find that not only is greater network diversity associated with lower levels of intolerance, but also that longer exposure to a diverse network is linked to less expression of intolerance over time. The authors find that this relationship persists in both elite and non-elite diverse networks. Exploring the mechanisms by which network diversity might affect tolerance, the authors offer suggestive evidence that social norms in online networks may shape individuals’ propensity to publicly express intolerant attitudes. The findings contribute to the political tolerance literature and enrich the ongoing debate over the relationship between online echo chambers and political attitudes and behavior by providing new insights from a repressive authoritarian context.
Ideology shapes militant recruitment, organization, and conflict behavior. Existing research assumes doctrinal consistency, top-down socialization of adherents, and clear links between formal ideology and political action. But it has long been recognized that ideological commitments do not flow unaltered from overarching cleavages or elite narratives; they are uneven, contingent, fraught with tension, and often ambivalent. What work does ideology do in militant groups if it is not deeply studied, internalized, or sincerely believed? How can scholars explain collective commitment, affinity, and behavioral outcomes among militants who clearly associate themselves with a group, but who may not consistently (or ever) be true believers or committed ideologues? I argue that practical ideologies—sets of quotidian principles, ideas, and social heuristics that reflect relational worldviews rather than specific published political doctrines, positions, platforms, or plans—play a key role in militant socialization through everyday practices. Ethnographic evidence gained from fieldwork among Palestinians in Lebanon demonstrates how militants and affiliates render ideas about ideological closeness and distance accessible through emotional, intellectual, and moral appeals. This approach reaffirms the role of discourse and narrative in creating informal mechanisms of militant socialization without expressly invoking formal doctrine.
Can governments elected under mixed-member majoritarian (mmm) electoral systems use geographically targeted spending to increase their chances of staying in office, and if so, how? Although twenty-eight countries use mmm electoral systems, scant research has addressed this question. The authors explain how mmm’s combination of electoral systems in two unlinked tiers creates a distinct strategic environment in which a large party and a small party can trade votes in one tier for votes in the other tier in a way that increases the number of seats won by both. They then explain how governing parties dependent on vote trading can use geographically targeted spending to cement it. These propositions are tested using original data from Japan (2003–2013) and Mexico (2012–2016). In both cases, municipalities in which the supporters of governing parties split their ballots as instructed were found to have received more money after elections. The findings have broad implications for research on mmm electoral systems, distributive politics, and the politics of Japan and Mexico.
This article investigates how unemployment risk within households affects voting for the radical right. The authors contribute to recent advances in the literature that have highlighted the role of economic threat for understanding the support of radical-right parties. In contrast to existing work, the authors do not treat voters as atomistic individuals; they instead investigate households as a crucial site of preference formation. Combining largescale labor market data with comparative survey data, they confirm the expectations of their theoretical framework by demonstrating that the effect of occupational unemployment risk on radical-right support is strongly conditioned by household-risk constellations. Voting for the radical right is a function not only of a voter’s own risk, but also of his or her partner’s risk. The article provides additional evidence on the extent to which these effects are gendered and on the mechanisms that link household risk and party choice. The results imply that much of the existing literature on individual risk exposure potentially underestimates its effect on political behavior due to the neglect of multiplier effects within households.
This article problematizes the social structure of ethnic groups to account for variation in insurgent mobilization within and across ethnic groups. Relying on network-based approaches to social structure, it argues that insurgent mobilization is constrained by the structural connectivity of the ethnic group, a measure of the extent to which subethnic communities—neighborhoods, villages, clans, and tribes—are socially connected internally and with each other. In agrarian societies, structural connectivity is traced to religion. On the basis of unique data on rebel recruitment from the Mizo insurgency in India and microlevel variations in changes associated with the spread of Christianity among Mizos, the author demonstrates that enhanced structural connectivity resulting from a network of highly centralized churches and institutions under the Welsh Presbyterian Mission significantly bolstered insurgent recruitment. Semistructured interviews of Mizo insurgents and ethnographic evidence from the neighboring Meitei and Naga ethnic insurgencies further support the argument and the casual mechanism.
Does electoral fraud stabilize authoritarian rule or undermine it? The answer to this question rests in part on how voters evaluate regime candidates who engage in fraud. Using a survey experiment conducted after the 2016 elections in Russia, the authors find that voters withdraw their support from ruling party candidates who commit electoral fraud. This effect is especially large among strong supporters of the regime. Core regime supporters are more likely to have ex ante beliefs that elections are free and fair. Revealing that fraud has occurred significantly reduces their propensity to support the regime. The authors’ findings illustrate that fraud is costly for autocrats not just because it may ignite protest, but also because it can undermine the regime’s core base of electoral support. Because many of its strongest supporters expect free and fair elections, the regime has strong incentives to conceal or otherwise limit its use of electoral fraud.
What are the effects of foreign aid on the perceived legitimacy of recipient states? Different donors adhere to different rules, principles, and operating procedures. The authors theorize that variation in these aid regimes may generate variation in the effects of aid on state legitimacy. To test their theory, they compare aid from the United States to aid from China, its most prominent geopolitical rival. Their research design combines within-country analysis of original surveys, survey experiments, and behavioral games in Liberia with cross-country analysis of existing administrative and Afrobarometer data from six African countries. They exploit multiple proxies for state legitimacy, but focus in particular on tax compliance and morale. Contrary to expectations, the authors find little evidence to suggest that exposure to aid diminishes the legitimacy of African states. If anything, the opposite appears to be true. Their results are consistent across multiple settings, multiple levels of analysis, and multiple measurement and identification strategies, and are unlikely to be artifacts of sample selection, statistical power, or the strength or weakness of particular experimental treatments. The authors conclude that the effects of aid on state legitimacy at the microlevel are largely benign.
Political parties learn from foreign incumbents, that is, parties abroad that won office. But does the scope of this cross-national policy diffusion vary with the party family that generates those incumbents? The authors argue that party family conditions transnational policy learning when it makes information on the positions of sister parties more readily available and relevant. Both conditions apply to social democratic parties. Unlike other party families, social democrats have faced major competitive challenges since the 1970s and they exhibit exceptionally strong transnational organizations—factors, the authors contend, that uniquely facilitate cross-national policy learning from successful parties within the family. The authors analyze parties’ policy positions using spatial methods and find that social democratic parties are indeed exceptional because they emulate one another across borders more than do Christian democratic and conservative parties. These findings have important implications for our understanding of political representation and of social democratic parties’ election strategies over the past forty years.
The centralization of conflict resolution and the administration of justice, two crucial elements of state formation, are often ignored by the state-building literature. This article studies the monopolization of justice administration, using the historical example of the General Indian Court (gic) of colonial Mexico. The author argues that this court’s development and decision-making process can show us how the rule of law develops in highly authoritarian contexts. Centralized courts could be used strategically to solve an agency problem, limiting local elites’ power and monitoring state agents. To curb these actors’ power, the Spanish Crown allowed the indigenous population to raise claims and access property rights. But this access remained limited and subject to the Crown’s strategic considerations. The author’s theory predicts that a favorable ruling for the indigenous population was more likely in cases that threatened to increase local elites’ power. This article shows the conditions under which the rule of law can emerge in a context where a powerful ruler is interested in imposing limits on local powers—and on their potential predation of the general population. It also highlights the endogenous factors behind the creation of colonial institutions and the importance of judicial systems in colonial governance.
In an era of increasingly public diplomacy, conventional wisdom assumes that leaders who compromise damage their reputations and lose the respect of their constituents, which undermines the prospects for international peace and cooperation. This article challenges this assumption and tests how leaders can negotiate compromises and avoid paying domestic approval and reputation costs. Drawing on theories of individuals’ core values, psychological processes, and partisanship, the author argues that leaders reduce or eliminate domestic public constraints by exercising proposal power and initiating compromises. Employing survey experiments to test how public approval and perceptions of reputation respond to leaders’ strategies across security and economic issues, the author finds attitudes toward compromise are conditioned by the ideology of the audience and leader, with audiences of liberals being more supportive of compromise. In the US case, this results in Republican presidents having greater leeway to negotiate compromises. The article’s contributions suggest that leaders who exercise proposal power have significant flexibility to negotiate compromise settlements in international bargaining.
Do world politics affect the adoption of new technology? States overwhelmingly rely on technology invented abroad, and their differential intensity of technology use accounts for many of their differences in economic development. Much of the literature on technology adoption focuses on domestic conditions. The authors argue instead that the structure of the international system is critical because it affects the level of competition among states, which in turn affects leaders’ willingness to enact policies that speed technology adoption. Countries adopt new technology as they seek to avoid being vulnerable to attack or coercion by other countries. By systematically examining states’ adoption of technology over the past two hundred years, the authors find that countries adopt new technologies faster when the international system is less concentrated, that changes in systemic concentration have a temporally causal effect on technology adoption, and that government policies to promote technology adoption are related to concerns about rising international competition. A competitive international system is an important incentive for technological change and may underlie global technology waves.
A wave of recent scholarship has breathed new life into the study of reputation and credibility in international politics. In this review article, the authors welcome this development while offering a framework for evaluating collective progress, a series of related critiques, and a set of suggestions for future research. The article details how the books under review represent an important step toward consensus on the importance of reputation in world politics, elucidating scope conditions for when reputational inferences are likely to be most salient. The authors argue that despite the significant accomplishments of recent studies, the scholarly record remains thin on the psychology of the perceiver and is instead focused on situational factors at the expense of dispositional variables and is rather myopically oriented toward reputation for resolve to the exclusion of other important types. Despite its contributions, the new literature still falls short of a full explanation for how actors draw inferences about reputation. These remaining theoretical challenges demand scholarly attention and suggest a role for psychology in filling some of the gaps.
What is status? How does it work? What effects does it tend to have? A new wave of scholarship on status in international relations has converged on a central definition of status, several causal pathways, and the claim that the pursuit of status tends to produce conflict. The authors take stock of the status literature and argue that this convergence is not only a sign of progress, but also an obstacle to it. They find that the consensus definition conceals critical contradictions between standing and membership, that its causal pathways are promising but often in tension with each other, and that the literature may be overlooking the ways in which status can help states avoid conflict and promote cooperation under certain conditions.
Between the mid-1990s and the mid-2010s, the Chinese government was distinctly open to the Western offer of democracy-assistance programs. It cooperated with a number of Western organizations to improve the rule of law, village elections, administrative capacity, and civil society in China. Why did the Chinese government engage with democracy promoters who tried to develop these democratic attributes within China? The author argues that the government intended to use Western aid to its advantage. The Chinese Communist Party had launched governance reforms to strengthen its regime legitimacy, and Chinese officials found that Western democracy assistance could be used to facilitate their own governance-reform programs. The article traces the process of how the government’s strategic intention translated into policies of selective openness, and includes evidence from firsthand interviews, propaganda materials, and research by Chinese experts. The findings show how democracy promoters and authoritarian leaders have different expectations of the effects of limited democratic reform within nondemocratic systems. Empirically, reflecting on the so-called golden years of China’s engagement with the West sheds new light on the Chinese Communist Party’s survival strategy through authoritarian legitimation.