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How can scholars conduct field research when there is limited access to the field? This article first identifies how limited and uncertain field access can affect field research and then provides recommendations to address these challenges. We focus on conducting field research in Japan because of our substantive expertise, but we believe that the problems and solutions outlined in this article are applicable to a broad range of countries. Our hope is that this article contributes to the developing literature on conducting research during times of emergency and to the larger literature on best practices for field research.
How do electoral coalition signals affect voters' perceptions of party positions and coalition behavior in parliamentary democracies? Scholars have found that coalition signals can influence how voters view policy positions of parties. Extending research on the impact of government coalition participation on voter perceptions, a recent study found that Spanish voters update their perceptions of party positions when they receive a signal that a party joined an electoral coalition, believing it to be farther to the left (right) if the signal was of a left- (right-)leaning coalition. That study also found, in agreement with the literature, that electoral coalition signals lead to expectations of future coalition behavior. Much of the literature on electoral coalitions focuses on parliamentary democracies in Europe that use proportional representation. Since the effects of electoral coalitions might vary across contexts, we conduct a similar survey experiment in Japan, a parliamentary democracy that uses a mixed electoral system with an important disproportional component. We find no evidence that electoral coalition signals affect how Japanese voters view the ideological positions of parties, a result that matches a similar analysis conducted in Sweden. However, some coalition signals – if they contain new information – do increase Japanese respondents' expectations that certain coalitions are more likely to form in the future.
The number of multiracial candidates seeking office is growing in an increasingly diverse America. This raises questions about how the media frame candidates with potentially complex racial backgrounds and how voters respond to these frames. We investigate the impact of media frames that emphasize race and gender attributes using survey experiments on Kamala Harris—the first Black woman and first Asian woman vice president. Our findings are mixed. In a survey experiment conducted after her nomination, headlines emphasizing different elements of Harris’s race or gender had no impact on public attitudes. In an experiment conducted after Harris was inaugurated, however, headlines that cued her gender only or both her gender and her Black racial background boosted popular support. Taken together, these findings suggest that some types of identity-based cues may matter, but the effects are sensitive to experimental settings and contexts.
In authoritarian regimes, repression encourages private actors to censor not only themselves, but also other private actors—a behavior we call “regime-induced private censorship.” We present the results of a correspondence experiment conducted in Russia that investigates the censorship behavior of private media firms. We find that such firms censor third-party advertisements that include anti-regime language, calls for political or non-political collective action, or both. Our results demonstrate the significance of other types of censorship besides state censorship in an important authoritarian regime and contribute to the rapidly growing literature on authoritarian information control.
Audit studies typically involve researchers sending a message to or making a request of some sample in order to unobtrusively measure subjects’ behaviors. These studies are often conducted as a way of measuring bias or discrimination. We introduce readers to audit studies, describe their basic design features, and then provide advice on effectively implementing these studies. In particular, we provide several suggestions aimed at improving the internal, ecological, and external validity of audit study findings.
Does the use of judicial review by unelected judges harm public support for their decisions? Scholars have often answered this question in the affirmative. We examine the extent to which the use of judicial review reduces the ability of judges to achieve acceptance of their decisions, arguing that decisions made by elected judges may be more palatable to the public. Our experimental evidence demonstrates that the public is less prone to accept both decisions made by appointed judges and judicial decisions that strike down laws. However, the public is no more likely to accept the use of judicial review by an appointed court than an elected court. The results have implications both for institutional design in the American states and the microfoundations of judicial independence.
Results of an audit study conducted during the 2016 election cycle demonstrate that bias toward Latinos observed during the 2012 election has persisted. In addition to replicating previous results, we show that Arab/Muslim Americans face an even greater barrier to communicating with local election officials, but we find no evidence of bias toward blacks. An innovation of our design allows us to measure whether e-mails were opened by recipients, which we argue provides a direct test of implicit discrimination. We find evidence of implicit bias toward Arab/Muslim senders only.
Until recently, researchers who wanted to examine the determinants of state respect for most specific negative rights (i.e., physical integrity and empowerment rights) needed to rely on data from the CIRI or the Political Terror Scale (PTS). The new Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) dataset offers scholars a potential alternative to the individual human rights variables from CIRI. We analyze a set of key Cingranelli–Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Data Project and V-Dem negative rights indicators, finding unusual and unexpectedly large patterns of disagreement between the two sets. First, we discuss the new V-Dem dataset by comparing it to the disaggregated CIRI indicators, discussing the history of each project, and describing its empirical domain. Second, we identify a set of disaggregated human rights measures that are similar across the two datasets and discuss each project’s measurement approach. Third, we examine how these measures compare to each other empirically, showing that they diverge considerably across both time and space. These findings point to several important directions for future work, such as how conceptual approaches and measurement strategies affect rights scores. For the time being, our findings suggest that researchers should think carefully about using the measures as substitutes.
This note offers an introduction to electromagnetic signal propagation models, which can be used to model terrestrial radio and television signal strength across space. Such data are useful to social scientists interested in identifying the effects of mass media broadcasts when (i) individual-level data on media exposure do not exist or when (ii) media exposure, while observed, is not exogenous. We illustrate the use of electromagnetic signal propagation models by creating a signal strength measure of military-controlled radio stations during the 2012 coup in Mali.
This paper discusses how audit studies can be adapted to test the effectiveness of interventions aimed at reducing discrimination. We conducted an adapted audit experiment to test whether making officials aware of bias could reduce levels of racial bias. While the limitations of our design make it difficult to assess where information alone can reduce bias, our study makes two important contributions. First, we replicate prior studies by showing that white, local elected officials are less responsive to black constituents. That local officials exhibit biased behavior is particularly worrisome, as local government is often the level that most directly affects citizens’ daily lives. Second, we provide several suggestions for future audit studies that draw from the strengths and weaknesses of our own design. We hope that they will help improve future work on identifying and reducing discrimination.
In their 2014 article in the British Journal of Political Science, Eleanor Neff Powell and Joshua A. Tucker examine the determinants of party system volatility in post-communist Europe. Their central conclusion is that replacement volatility – volatility caused by new party entry and old party exit – is driven by long-term economic performance. This article shows that this conclusion is based entirely on a miscalculation of the long-term economic performance of a single country, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The study’s reanalysis suggests that little is known about what causes party system volatility in post-communist Europe. Given the negative consequences traditionally associated with party system volatility, this area of research cries out for new theoretical development.