Table of Contents
- Changing Face of Democracy and the Rising Discontent of the Citizens
- Comparative Perspectives on U.S. Populism and Potential for Democratic Erosion</a\
- Congress and President Trump in an Age of Discontent
- Culture and Discontents: New Approaches
- Democracy and its Discontents in Africa
- Democracy and its Discontents in the Middle East
- Democracy and its Discontents: The Failing Politics of Climate Adaptation
- Democracy in America?
- Democratic Backsliding in Southeast Asia
- Democratic Backsliding in Advanced Democracies
- Democratic Discontent, Administrative Instability, and the Capacity to Govern
- Discontent with Gender Justice: Backlash, Resistance, and Opposition Worldwide
- Dynastic Politics and Democratic Discontent
- Economic Discontent and Political Backlash
- Electoral Shocks: Understanding the Volatile Voter in a Turbulent World
- Elites, Political Parties, and Democracy’s Discontents
- Erosion of Democracy: Populism and its Causes
- Explicit Appeals to Prejudice in the Trump Era
- Health Policy and Democratic Discontent: The ACA in Comparative Perspective
- How Democratic is American Foreign Policy? How Democratic Should It Be?
- How to Write about Your Research for the Monkey Cage
- Inequality, Redistribution, and Democracy
- Information Warfare, Past and Present
- Intersectionality and Political Mobilization
- Is it Regime Change? Comparative and Historical Reflections on the U.S.
- Measuring Democratic Erosion
- Mini Conference on Populism in Europe
- New Approaches to Corruption: Theory, Method, and Measurement
- Oligarchic Tendencies in U.S. Politics
- Political Communication in an Era of Polarization and Social Media
- Political Theory in /and/ as Political Science:Democracy in Theory and Practice
- Power, Persuasion, and Disruption in Activist Politics
- Race, Class, and the Space for Local Democracy: New Views, New Voices
- State of the Discipline in the Era of Democratic Discontent
- Teaching Erosion of Democracy
- The Crisis of Democracy: A Roundtable of Political Science Thought
- The Effects of Protests in the U.S.
- The Erosion of Democracy and its Consequences
- The Liberal Order Under Stress
- The Resilience and Erosion of Democracy
- Theorizing Democratic Participation: Populist Perils and Deliberative Promises
- Voters or the Market? The Politics of Credibility Since the Great Recession
Review the panels selected by our Program Chairs Henry Farrell, The George Washington University, and Anna Grzymala-Busse, Stanford University, due to their exploration of the theme “Democracy and its Discontents.”
Changing Face of Democracy and the Rising Discontent of the Citizens
Democracy is a fascinating but a contested concept. It translates as ‘Power of the People’. Democracy stresses equal moral worth of individuals, it refers to collective self rule. Democratic government is rooted in the consensus of the people. Democratic state is constitutive of citizenship, giving equal rights and liberties to the citizens. Democracy is also associated with pluralism; it protects the social relations so that they can develop autonomously from the state. Diversity is seen as the main strength of democracy and it calls for the tolerance of all shades of opinion.
However democratic governments are undergoing rapid transformation. Individual identities are increasingly challenged by migration, mobility, multiculturalism as by the complex identities of the post materialist citizens. All these developments have created disharmony within democracy. Historically democracy has been a movement that aimed at the removal of differences based on caste, race, gender, and ethnicity. Eliminating differences comes from the idea of the equal moral worth of every individual. This has been critiqued by feminist scholars who incorporate the notion of difference. They hold that men and women are different, democratic policies seem to be gender blind. Multiculturalists argue that in culturally plural societies, though liberal democracy claims to be neutral, laws and practices reflect the cultural bias of the majority. Democracy invariably means the rule of the majority.
Feminists and multiculturalists hold that liberalism values the abstract self interested individual and ignore other identities. Modern societies are said to be characterized by deep diversity and cultural pluralism.
Identities are socially constructed and are rooted in a matrix of social relationships. However sometimes these identities create dualities between groups and generate conflicts. When these dualities are graded, ranked hierarchically, these become oppressive and result in asymmetrical power relations. Identities are to be understood as a process of social, cultural, and political struggle for hegemony among social groups.
Identity politics is intimately connected to the idea that some social groups are oppressed, making them vulnerable to cultural imperialism, violence, exploitation, marginalization or powerlessness. Proliferation of identity politics in our times is due to the hitherto subdued groups are overcoming their age old silence and asserting themselves against the dominant ideologies of hierarchy. Today previously excluded groups like, ‘blacks’ in the USA, or dalits in India, or women worldwide, are no longer willing to be silence or marginalized or to be defined as deviant simply because they differ in race, culture, gender etc from the so called normal citizens. They demand a more inclusive conception of citizenship and group specific rights.
Identity politics threatens to erode the civic virtues and practices and identities which sustain a healthy democracy. Identity Politics makes the groups discontent, disillusioned and disgruntled and they continuously challenge the legitimacy of the elected democratic government. Therefore the basic tenets of liberal democracy are under threat.
Socialists, the feminists and the multiculturalists have all pointed to the structures of power and inequality in society. Removal of these unequal power structures becomes a concern of democracy.
In the present times, populism is the greatest threat to democracy. In his brilliant book, What is Populism (University of Pennsylvania Press 2016) Jan Werner Muller argues that at populism’s core is a rejection of pluralism. Populists will always claim that they and they alone represent the people and their true interests. Müller also shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, populists can govern on the basis of their claim to exclusive moral representation of the people: if populists have enough power, they will end up creating an authoritarian state that excludes all those not considered part of the proper “people.”
Populism is the power of the political elite to manipulate the rights of ordinary citizens and spreading national intolerance and conflicts can endanger the existing democracies.
This paper will examine these recent developments which challenge the normative logic of democracy and makes it vulnerable to political manipulation by charismatic leadership. The paper will focus on the changing dynamics of Indian democracy perhaps the largest democracy in the world.
Ashutosh Varshney, Brown University (Chair)
Changing Face of Democracy and the Rising Discontent of the Citizens
Atul Kohli, Princeton University(Author)
Comparative Perspectives on U.S. Populism and Potential for Democratic Erosion
With the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election, populists have come to power in the US. Supported by the Social Science Research Council’s Anxieties of Democracy Program, the papers on this panel address this electoral success, paying particular attention to the role played by American political institutions. The panel starts by situating American populism in a comparative perspective, and then examines how American institutions variously enable and inhibit populist appeals. In keeping with the conference theme on “Democracy and Its Discontents”, the panel addresses populism in America by combining approaches from several subfields: jointly, the papers on this panel use traditional tools from the study of American politics while also encouraging the use of and relying on insights from comparative studies of populism and social movements.
First, Kirk Hawkins and Levi Littvay set the stage by analyzing Donald Trump’s victory using insights from the comparative study of populism. They measure Trump’s populism both before and after the election, compare him to leaders in other countries, and analyze American voters’ perceptions of him as populist.
The remaining papers highlight and analyze the relationship between American political institutions and populist political appeals. Karen Jusko starts by analyzing geographic and over-time variation in the rise in populist candidates’ appeal. She argues that electoral groups become more susceptible to populist appeals in situations when the groups are rarely electorally pivotal, and where politicians therefore have fewer incentives to appeal to their interests.
Next, Frances E. Lee examines the resilience and susceptibility of American institutions to populism, arguing that while Madisonian checks and balances serve to protect the United States from authoritarian populism, the decentralized system of local elections, especially in conjunction with party primaries, make American government more susceptible to populist movements and pressures than many other democracies.
Finally, Kenneth M. Roberts brings together several different theoretical perspectives to explain the recent changes in American politics. He argues that to understand the turn toward populism that has occurred in the Republican party in particular, we need to look beyond dominant theories of party politics and to integrate insights from the study of social movements, “contentious politics,” and comparative studies of populism.
Nolan McCarty, Princeton University (Chair)
David J. Samuels, University of Minnesota (Discussant)
Populism in Comparative Perspective: The 2016 US Presidential Election
Kirk A. Hawkins, Brigham Young University (Author)
Levente Littvay, Central European University (Author)
Populism and the Political Geography of Grievances
Karen Long Jusko, Stanford University (Author)
Madisonian Institutions and Populist Movements
Frances E. Lee, University of Maryland (Author)
The GOP as a Movement Party: Mobilizations, Ideology, and Populism
Kenneth M, Roberts, Cornell University (Author)
Congress and President Trump in an Age of Discontent
As polarization and gridlock continue to hold their grip over the U.S. Congress, Americans’ approval of and confidence in their national legislature remain near historic lows. It is safe to say that Americans’ discontent with Congress remains high. Indeed, discontent with U.S. politics more generally was on full display in the 2016 presidential election, with President Donald Trump winning an unprecedented victory by promising to “drain the swamp.” This roundtable assembles leading scholars of the U.S. Congress to provide their observations on the current state of Congress, in the age of President Trump. Among other topics, these scholars will discuss what they view as the causes and consequences of this discontent, and what lies ahead for the U.S. Congress as it relates to governing and representation during the Trump presidency.
Gregory Koger, University of Miami (Chair)
Sarah Binder, GWU / Brookings Institution (Presenter)
Steven S. Smith, Washington University in St. Louis (Presenter)
Sean M. Theriault, University of Texas, Austin (Presenter)
Jennifer L. Lawless, American University (Presenter)
Culture and Discontents: New Approaches
Recent years have seen a growth in skepticism concerning the legitimacy of democratic institutions. As tensions emerge between liberal justifications of popular rule and the outcomes of democratic procedures, the epistemic and ethical capacities of the people have become pressing topics of discussion for political scientists and pundits alike. Far from novel, these questions bring us back to the roots of democratic theory in ancient Greece. This panel will focus on this early moment in democratic theory, investigating a range of underexplored Athenian responses to the questions of what the dêmos is capable of and how these capacities should be evaluated. Looking beyond the well-known arguments of Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics, our panelists illuminate the breadth of ancient Greek thinking about democratic knowledge, virtue, and capacity.
Sheri Berman, Barnard College (Chair)
Kathleen R. McNamara, Georgetown University (Discussant)
“What we Talk About When we Talk about Poverty”
Cathie Jo Martin, Boston University (Author)
Tom Chevalier, Harvard University (Author)
From Pews to Politics: A Cultural Approach to Political Perspective & Strategies
Rachel Beatty Riedl, Northwestern University (Author)
Gwyneth McClendon, New York University (Author)
SARS and Health Care Delivery in India and China
Prerna Singh, Brown University (Author)
Title to be Determined
Keith A. Darden, American University (Author)
Democracy and its Discontents in Africa
What is the state of democracy in Africa? What are the challenges it faces? This roundtable explores how African democracies are faring, and the kind of democratic discontents they face.
Staffan I. Lindberg, University of Gothenburg (Chair)
Anna Luehrmann, University of Gothenburg (Presenter)
Nick Cheesman, Australian National University (Presenter)
Rachel Beatty Riedl, Northwestern University (Presenter)
Rachel Sigman, Naval Postgraduate School (Presenter)
M. Anne Pitcher, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Presenter)
Nicolas van de Walle, Cornell University (Presenter)
Democracy and its Discontents in the Middle East
The enthusiasm for the possibility of democratic change in the Middle East generated by the 2011 Arab uprisings has long since given way to the grim recognition of autocratic retrenchement and state failure. How have the political failures since 2011 shaped political thought and behavior in the region? What lessons does this experience hold for political science and its theoretical engagement with the prospects for democratization, the role of civil society, and the durability of autocracy? This theme panel brings together leading scholars from diverse subfields, methodologies and specializations to assess the viability of democratic political theory and practice in dark times.
Marc Lynch, George Washington University (Chair)
Michaelle L. Browers, Wake Forest University (Presenter)
Ellen M. Lust, University of Gothenburg (Presenter)
Tarek E. Masoud, Harvard University (Presenter)
Lisa Wedeen, University of Chicago (Presenter)
Sean L. Yom,Temple University (Presenter)
Democracy and Its Discontents: The Failing Politics of Climate Adaptation
Modern democracies face few, if any, more urgent and serious challenges than climate change. How can and should democracies properly respond? Most work focuses on mitigation policies to limit carbon emissions. The other, comparatively neglected face of response, is adaptation. Adaptation to sea-level rise, drought, fire and more is not a future challenge but confronted right now by every level of government.
Supported by the Social Science Research Council’s Anxieties of Democracy Program, the papers on this panel jointly ask how, when, and why individuals, communities, and institutions take steps to adapt to climate change. Consistent with the Democracy and Its Discontents conference theme, the papers in this panel span several subfields, identify issues faced by modern democracies, and propose constructive ways forward.
In the first paper, Nancy Rosenblum opens with a broad overview of the mindsets with which democratic officials and policy-makers and affected citizens approach climate change adaptation. She identifies three different mindsets: normalizing, resignation, and species awareness. She then identifies and discusses institutional arrangements that can encourage moving from normalizing and resigned reactions toward adaptation that works hand in hand with the larger question of mitigation.
The following three papers discuss adaptive strategies in the context of local institutions, among individuals, and in communities respectively. Sarah Pralle describes how the incentives created by the National Flood Insurance Program direct local conversations about climate change adaptation toward the costs of revising flood hazard zones, rather than the risks associated with flooding. Debra Javeline and Tracy Kijewski-Correa ask whether individual knowledge of and attitudes toward climate change are related to individual actions to protect themselves from the consequences of climate change. Finally, Hilary Boudet asks whether experiences of extreme weather events prompt communities to respond with climate-related actions, and finds that such events have a limited impact on either climate change awareness or action.
Jointly, these papers identify issues that impede successful adaptation responses in democratic systems, but they also offer up democratic solutions to the problems they identify. For example, Nancy Rosenblum discusses participatory strategies for changing adaptation mindsets, and Hilary Boudet identifies conditions under which climate change-related responses to severe weather events are more likely to emerge from affected communities.
Nancy L. Rosenblum, Harvard University (Discussant)
Democracy in America?
Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens’ work on American democracy has garnered both scholarly acclaim and significant public attention. In “Democracy in America?” they address “what has gone wrong and what we can do about it.” A distinguished and diverse group of commentators features Catherine Rampell of the Washington Post.
Larry M. Bartels, Vanderbilt University (Chair)
Nancy Bermeo, Princeton University (Presenter)
Lane Kenworthy, email@example.com; University of California, San Diego (Presenter)
Benjamin I. Page, Northwestern University (Presenter)
Martin Gilens, Princeton University (Presenter)
Democratic Backsliding in Advanced Democracies
Scholars of electoral authoritarianism have long considered democratic backsliding. However, recent developments in advanced industrialized democracies suggest that these countries have also experienced backsliding. For example, in recent years Freedom House has downgraded advanced democracies including the United States, Spain, France, and Hungary, while still ranking them as “Free” overall, and downgraded others that it ranks as “Partly Free,” such as Turkey. To slow or stop such backsliding, the role of institutions (e.g., courts, opposition parties, the media) and of citizens is critical. This panel explores democratic backsliding and whether institutions and citizens impede, facilitate, or have no effect on backsliding.
Susan C. Stokes, Yale University (Chair)
Susan C. Stokes, Yale University (Discussant)
Susan D. Hyde, University of California, Berkeley (Discussant)
Democratic Backsliding in Southeast Asia
The democratic back sliding we now see in the west is not new in Southeast Asia. Manipulated elections, press and assembly controls, greater enforcement of lèse majesté laws, weakening public attitudes and values towards democracy, elite stoking of populist illiberalism; Southeast Asia has it all. The political fallout from the 1997 financial crisis included a transition to more democratic regimes in Indonesia and Thailand, and increased political activism in Malaysia. Seemingly not too long ago, the 2015 election in Myanmar appeared to be a positive move towards democracy. Yet, these positive steps towards democracy have been undermined by other recent events: the 2014 coup in Thailand, Duterte’s victory in the Philippines and the rise of extra judicial killings there, horrific atrocities committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar and the rise of religious populism in the Jakarta governor’s election and continued state dominance in Singapore and Malaysia. Referencing Garry Rodan and Kanishka Jayasuriya’s work on representation, we will ask who is being represented who not? Is populism and/or the rise of appeals to religion always antithetical to democracy and tolerance? What is the impact on domestic policy making and on foreign policy? How or where are foreign pressures influencing domestic politics, or where is that is no longer happening? What institutional features (the nature of elections, the role of the military, unitary vs. federal states, the political party systems) might make democracy stronger or weaker and why? And, what is the impact for human rights and citizens’ well-being across the region? Panelists for this session will address these questions and themes across multiple countries in Southeast Asia.
Duncan McCargo will discuss the ways in which elections can be postponed or subverted in the Southeast Asian context. He will assess Thailand’s prospects for a return to representative politics following the May 2014 military coup and the (now repeated) delays in holding fresh elections, and he will look at Hun Sen’s regime’s 2017 abuse of legal proceedings to abolish the main opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party, thereby reducing the planned July 2018 election to the level of farce. Meredith Weiss will address issues such electoral mobilization and malfeasance in the context of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Her work takes into account issues of nationalism and ethnoreligious politics, civil society, gender and sexuality, and new media. She will discuss long standing dynamics of political networks, party and coalition structures, and the roles and strategies of legislators and other political leaders across the region. Amy Freedman will assess changes in public opinion and attitudes about democracy over time and across countries in Southeast Asia. She will discuss how public opinion has been shaped by political elites and for what purposes, and how larger global dynamics may impact domestic politics. Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung will analyze elections and ethnic politics in Myanmar. Her wide ranging interests include questions of civil military relations, security, internal conflict and violence in Myanmar and she will address how these relationships have changed or been challenged by new electoral procedures. Ann Marie Murphy has expertise in Southeast Asian foreign affairs and her work bridges the gap between comparative politics and international relations. She has done extensive work on the domestic politics of migration and of climate change and she will assess the effects of democratization on foreign policy formation in Indonesia.
Democratic Discontent, Administrative Instability, and the Capacity to Govern
The organizing idea for the panel is to address questions of renewed relevance such as: To what extent have recent developments in democratic politics begun to erode the capacity of the civil service to govern effectively day to day? To what extent does a more insulated or autonomous public service lessen or increase the apparent new instabilities of democratic politics? In light of new realities, what responses are appropriate to ensure stable, responsive governing capacity in liberal democracies? The panel will take a comparative approach, with presenters addressing these and other questions with reference to the U.S. and several other regions of the world. The panel will also serve as the key event to mark the 50th year of publication of the scholarly journal Administration & Society.
Brian J. Cook, Virginia Tech (Chair)
Discontent with Gender Justice: Backlash, Resistance, and Opposition WorldwideEndorsement of gender justice is often assumed to be a defining feature of democracy. Indeed, policies promoting gender justice are often used to signal a country’s commitment to equality and inclusion. Yet recent developments suggest not just a stalled commitment, but backsliding born of discontent. Women candidates and presidents have been defeated or impeached by male leaders hostile to diversity and countries have decriminalized or decreased penalties for domestic and sexual violence, to name a few examples. This roundtable considers how recent resurgences of populism, nativism, illiberalism, economic inequality, and greater political polarization have increased discontent towards gender justice. Senior and junior scholars from American politics, comparative politics, and political theory address two central questions. First, how might scholars conceptualize, measure, and study discontent with gender justice?
Second, what interventions and policies constitute best practices, allowing advocates of gender justice to persevere? Shauna Shames and Jennifer Piscopo bring their respective expertise on American and comparative politics to bear on theorizing the forms of resistance, opposition, and backlash that appear across emerging and advanced democracies. Comparativists Denise Walsh and Erica Townsend-Bell build on this discussion by debating how to operationalize discontent in different political contexts, as well as how to incorporate diverse social locations into the analysis. Juliana Restrepo Sanin and Zein Murib introduce case studies. Restrepro Sanin discusses violence against women politicians in Bolivia and Murib addresses how the Trump administration has undermined LGBTQ rights while simultaneously claiming to protect LGBTQ persons from harm. Feminist theorist Mary Hawkesworth concludes by proposing visibility politics as a mode of resistance to discontent with gender justice. Taken together, these interventions provide scholars with new ideas and tools for investigating how and why a core discontent with the democratic project — gender justice — has taken hold both in the United States and across the globe. The roundtable will also provide reflections on responses and solutions.
Denise Marie Walsh, University of Virginia (Chair)
Jennifer M. Piscopo, Occidental College (Presenter)
Shauna L. Shames, Rutgers University, Camden (Presenter)
Erica Townsend-Bell, Oklahoma State University (Presenter)
Zein Murib, Fordham University-Lincoln Center (Presenter)
Juliana Restrepo Sanin, Rutgers University (Presenter)
Mary Hawkesworth, Rutgers University (Presenter)
Amy L. Freedman, Long Island University, CW Post (Chair)
Duncan McCargo, University of Leeds (Presenter)
Ann Marie Murphy, Seton Hall University (Presenter)
Meredith L. Weiss, SUNY, University at Albany (Presenter)
Ardeth Maung Thawnghmung, (Presenter)
Dynastic Politics and Democratic Discontent
Across democracies, there is an increased awareness of extreme inequalities in both wealth and political power. Inequality of power––at its worst––may result in politicians routinely enacting policies that are opposed by the majority of citizens, which may encourage anti-establishment populism or dampen participation and turnout, both of which pose a threat to the stability and legitimacy of democracies around the world. One manifestation of inequality in power is the continued persistence of political family dynasties, often spanning several generations or serving concurrently across levels of government. At the highest levels of power, voters have reacted to dynastic politics in different ways. In recent leadership changes, establishment dynastic politicians have been rejected in favor of populists or reformists (depending on one’s point of view), in countries as diverse as the United States, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. In other countries, such as Canada and Japan, dynastic leaders have enjoyed greater public support.
This panel brings together four new papers on the forefront of comparative research on the causes and consequences of political dynasties. In keeping with this year’s theme of “Democracy and its Discontents,” each paper speaks in important ways to how dynastic politics affect the functioning of democracy or how voters respond (positively or negatively) to dynastic politicians. First, Cirone investigates the patterns in dynastic networks within the European Union. Most of the existing literature on dynasties only considers family relations within a single level of government (local or national). Cirone takes the analysis a step further, considering family ties within the European Parliament (EP) that span across national and supranational politics, and often under alternative electoral rules. Does serving in the EP serve as either a “stepping stone” or a “safety net” for would-be dynastic politicians? In the next paper, Batto and Chou use new survey data from Taiwan to unpack one of the possible mechanisms behind dynastic politics: voter preferences. Do voters actually prefer representation by dynastic politicians? If so, why? If not, why do dynastic politicians succeed nonetheless? In the third paper, George and Ponattu consider the effects of dynastic politics in India on economic development, using new data on the family connections of Indian legislators since 2004 and satellite data on night-time luminosity. They find that dynastic rule reduces local economic activity and worsens public goods provision, and that voters also believe dynastic MPs to govern worse. Finally, Labonne, Parsa, and Querubin consider the effect of term limits on gender representation and how this relates to dynastic politics. Although they find no differences in policy outcomes between municipalities governed by a male or female dynastic mayor, their analysis raises new and important questions: does the channel of descriptive representation for women––dynastic or non-dynastic––have any relationship to the type of substantive representation provided to voters?
Daniel M. Smith, Harvard University(Chair)
Economic Discontent and Political Backlash
Markets’ global integration and their increasing scope have produced social disruption. The timing and scale of this disruption has differed among regions, but people around the world have been deeply affected. Within societies, economic and social inequalities have grown, and capitalist forces have frequently won out against democratic principles (Piketty 2014, Streeck 2014). Dissatisfied with both the conditions under which they work and the broader distribution of wealth generated by their labor, people have in turn ramped up resistance against neoliberal orthodoxy. While the forms and pace of popular backlash have been varied, ranging from worker unrest in Asia and populism in Latin America to the Brexit vote in Europe and the election of Donald Trump in the United States, they have all similarly challenged the stability of local political orders. We propose to bring together a group of political scientists to debate their research on the comparative dynamics of contemporary labor and distributional politics.
The panel addresses backlash from different vantage points, using diverse methodologies and approaches. The Kurtz/Schrank paper examines the question of backlash at the “meta” level of private sector evaluations of the public sector in international indicators, such as the World Bank “Doing Business In” surveys. These cross-national surveys of government performance are more likely to constraint the ability of left-wing governments to offer policies of redistribution. The Inglehart paper examines two related questions. What motivates some voters in high-income parties to support xenophobic, anti-immigration movements? Why is this subset of the vote higher now? The paper explores the interconnectedness of economic dislocation and cultural backlash. The Wu paper demonstrates that voters often misattribute blame for economic dislocation toward immigrants and workers in less developed countries while discounting the effects of technological change and automation. Using American National Election Survey (ANES) data from 2016, the paper finds that workers in sectors more at risk of automation are more likely to support restrictions on immigration and free trade. Finally, the Sil and Evans’ paper examines the rise in militant labor and harsh repression across two different political regimes, Kazakhstan and South Africa. Despite differences in national levels of political openness and civil rights, the inability of labor unions to represent workers effectively and global trends in commodity prices have combined to intensify intra-labor conflict, militant worker actions, and violent repression by state agents.
A combination of global economic integration and technological changes has put pressure on established political institutions, required labor market adjustments of tremendous scale, and relegated many members of societies to some form of “precariat” (Standing 2011). As populations responded to broken promises about the power of education, the availability of jobs, or the prospects for rising incomes (Brown et al 2011), wide sections of society have come to question and – at times – reject the legitimacy of political-economic arrangements. Counter-movements have come in various shapes depending on context; often, they have been “populist” in character, sometimes presenting their criticism of reigning political orders and market fundamentalism in exclusionist and authoritarian terms (Polanyi 1944, Block and Somers 2014, Fukuyama 2014, Müller 2016).
Mary E. Gallagher, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Chair)
Electoral Shocks: Understanding the Volatile Voter in a Turbulent World
Are existing theories of electoral choice sufficient? Can they explain the many surprise election outcomes witnessed in recent years? Can we better understand how gradual social and political changes combine with the impacts of major events?
This roundtable discusses insights and cross-national implications arising from the authoritative new study of the 2015 and 2017 British general elections from the British Election Study team, ‘Electoral Shocks: Understanding the Volatile Voter in a Turbulent World’ (Oxford University Press). The book investigates recent British election outcomes and shows how electoral shocks have reshaped British politics: namely, the global financial crisis, the surge in European immigration, a different kind of government at Westminster (the coalition), the Independence Referendum in Scotland, and the Brexit referendum that took place in 2016. Understanding the effects of these shocks is essential to understanding volatility in British elections. It also requires a rethink of theories that focus only on long-term change, short-term dynamics, or the effects of one particular variable at any time. The book also shows how the effects of electoral shocks interact with their broader context: the degree of partisan dealignment in the British electorate and increasing individual-level volatility between British elections.
The book has many implications for understanding elections in a cross-national context. This roundtable brings together leading scholars of elections in America, Canada and Great Britain to discuss whether – and how – a theory of electoral shocks should inform understanding of election outcomes in these countries, to foster cross-national collaboration and research, and to consider new frontiers for understanding elections and electoral choice in an increasingly turbulent world.
Laura Stoker, University of California, Berkeley (Chair)
John H. Aldrich, Duke University (Presenter)
Ted Brader, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Presenter)
Ruth Dassonneville, Universite de Montreal (Presenter)
Edward A. Fieldhouse, University of Manchester (Presenter)
Jane Green, University of Manchester (Presenter)
Richard Johnston, University of British Columbia (Presenter)
Elites, Political Parties, and Democracy’s Discontents
From the Occupy Movement and its slogan of the 1%, to Brexit voters having had ‘enough with experts’, and Trump’s call to ‘drain the swamp’, recent discontent with democracy has taken the form of a ‘revolt against the elites’. But the problematic relationship elites entertain with democracy has been raised before. Indeed, reflection on this problem is as old as representative democracy itself. Roughly a century ago, when the basic building blocks of modern democracy – universal suffrage and the centralised, disciplined political party – were being put in place, thinkers such as Mosca, Pareto, Ostrogorski and Michels were already attempting to theorise the nature of the elites that emerged out of this novel political-institutional context. Although much has changed since then, in many ways this setting, and its problems, remain our own.
The aim of this panel is to explore the issue of elites in democratic thought from these founding figures of ‘elite theory’ to the present. Starting with Pareto, who gave us the word élite as we understand it today, Hugo Drochon (Cambridge) will explore whether his theory of the ‘circulation of elites’ can help make sense of recent events, and whether his condemnation of 1920s Italy as a ‘demagogic plutocracy’ still resonates today. Greg Conti (Princeton) will analyse how Ostrogorski’s critique of the modern political party drew from English debates about proportional representation in Thomas Hare and John Stuart Mill, and ask whether his proposed ‘Leagues’, the ancestors of the Single-Issue Party, are a solution to the current crisis of representation. Returning to Italy in the figure of Noberto Bobbio, David Ragazzoni (Columbia) will discuss Bobbio’s theory of factions and political parties: only when his democratic theory, his writings on the history of political thought, and his legal theory are combined can we make sense of Bobbio’s concept of parties and their relationship to elites. Finally, Nadia Urbinati (Columbia) will present a chapter from her forthcoming book on the ‘populist turn’, where she argues that political parties have historically been a successful instrument in constraining elites, but that their recent decline explains the re-emergence of the elite.
The panel will be chaired by Nancy Rosenblum (Harvard), author of “On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship”, and Richard Bellamy (EUI), author of “Modern Italian Social Theory: Ideology and Politics from Pareto to the Present”, will offer comments.
Nancy L. Rosenblum, Harvard University (Chair)
Richard Bellamy, University College London (Discussant)
Erosion of Democracy: Populism and its Causes
The electoral success of populists in the advanced industrial democracies has brought new attention to a topic that was previously studied mostly in the developing world, especially Latin America. The sense of urgency is great. Populism is seen as problematic for democracy: populists often undermine liberal democratic institutions once they are in power, yet populists also respond to democratic failures, basing their appeal on an argument that institutions and politicians are systematically denying segments of the electorate their voice. Thus, populism is not just a problem for democracy but a symptom of its failures. This means that the study of populism offers political scientists a unique window into democracy. If we can identify the reasons why citizens support populist movements, we may also come to understand the ways in which liberal democracy sometimes fails in its promise of representation.
Happily, scholarly efforts to identify the causes of populism are growing more advanced. For the past decade, scholars studying populism have been locked in a debate over whether the causes are mostly economic, rooted in declining material well-being; or cultural, representing a reaction to changing values and identities. More recent work moves beyond this debate by studying the individual-level causal mechanisms by which distant structural forces activate citizen’s populist anger. Most of this work argues, not surprisingly, that the key mechanism underlying populism’s electoral success is one of resentment or anger over perceived failures of democratic representation. Impressively, findings based on these arguments are coming from multiple countries in different regions and historical periods.
In this panel we showcase these recent, synthetic efforts to explain the causes of populism. Not only do these papers offer more generalizable causal arguments, but they present data from various regions and levels of analysis using multiple methods.
We start with a presentation by Hawkins et al. of their book project, one that takes the ideational definition of populism and weaves it into a comprehensive causal argument, then tests this argument using multiple methods of analysis. Analyses include large-N country studies, case studies, survey data, and experiments from around the globe. The next paper, by Carrión, takes us back to the study of populism in Latin America. It moves beyond the analysis of well-known contemporary cases to build a general causal model describing the “causal chain” producing populist governance in Latin America, a chain built out of context, actors, choices, and causal processes. It tests this argument through a comparative analysis of five contemporary and historical cases.
The third paper, by McNamara, explicitly attempts to move beyond the economy vs. culture debate through a geographically rooted narrative about how economic opportunities reshape subjective class identities and a perceived sense of grievance. It explores this theory through a study of populism in the United States.
Finally, the paper by Noam and Gidron explores the causal mechanisms of populist support at the individual level, especially by examining feelings of social marginalization. To do this, their paper analyzes measures of subjective social status in mass survey data across the industrialized world.
Kirk A. Hawkins, Brigham Young University (Chair)
Explicit Appeals to Prejudice in the Trump Era
Explicit appeals to prejudice came to the forefront of American politics in the 2016 election. Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign made several incendiary comments about immigrants and Muslims including banning all Muslims from entering the US. Yet, even before the 2016 election explicit appeals to anti-minority sentiments were on the rise. After the election of Barack Obama in 2008, explicitly racist posters began regularly appearing at Tea Party rallies. During the 2012 election, the Right made numerous explicit appeals to race, comparing Barack Obama to a chimpanzee and explicitly evoking the stereotype of African American laziness (Mcllwain and Calliendo 2014).
Recent scholarship has indicated that explicit racial appeals may not be any less effective at activating racial predispositions than implicit appeals (Huber and Lapinski 2006; Valentino, Neuner, and Vandenbroek 2017). However, several questions remain unclear. When and how are explicit appeals able to activate racial attitudes? Which ethnic groups are most likely to be targeted by explicitly prejudicial appeals? Who is most susceptible to these appeals? Participants will explore these questions and also discuss what the rise in explicitly prejudicial messages says about norms of equality in contemporary US society.
Michael Tesler, UC Irvine (Chair)
Maneesh Arora, University of California, Irvine (Presenter)
Ashley E. Jardina, Duke University (Presenter)
Antoine J. Banks, University of Maryland (Presenter)
Lafleur Stephens, (Presenter)
Fabian Guy Neuner, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Presenter)
Health Policy and Democratic Discontent: The ACA in Comparative Perspective
In the rich industrialized democracies, health policy has historically generated both political inclusion and exclusion. Programs for collective insurance against the risk of illness – from the British National Health Service to the French social insurance system to Medicare in the US — are rightly considered the jewels in the crowns of many welfare states. At the same time, widening gaps in life expectancy and well-being across the social gradient and across racial and ethnic groups in many countries signal that both medical care and other social goods conducive to health are lacking for large segments of the population. This roundtable draws together leading experts on health policy in the US with a moderator whose expertise is on European health systems to examine in a comparative light how democratic discontents — including socioeconomic inequality, lack of political and policy responsiveness, the privatization of the public sphere and discomfort with diversity — are reflected in the contemporary politics surrounding the Affordable Care Act.
Our participants are Harold Pollack, Helen Ross Professor at the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and a leading commentator on American health politics at the national level (his writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Nation, the New York Times, the New Republic, and other popular venues as well as in the academic press); Sarah Gollust, Associate professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, who has published extensively on the intersection of public opinion, the media, and health policy in the US; and Jamila Michener, Assistant professor in the department of Government at Cornell, an expert on the politics of Medicaid who examines the conditions under which economically and racially disadvantaged groups engage in the political process. Julia Lynch, Associate professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert on the politics of health inequalities in comparative perspective, will moderate the roundtable.
Julia Lynch, University of Pennsylvania (Chair)
Harold Pollack, University of Chicago (Presenter)
Sarah E. Gollust, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Presenter)
Jamila D. Michener, Cornell University (Presenter)
How Democratic is American Foreign Policy? How Democratic Should It Be?
The theme for this year’s meeting of the American Political Science Association is Democracy and its Discontents. Thus it seems an appropriate time to revisit a set of questions that have animated scholars for decades: How democratic is American foreign policy? How democratic should it be? To be more specific, to what extent does the direction of American foreign policy lie in the hands of an elite establishment versus the public at large? And what difference does it make – for better or for worse? Each of the scholars on this roundtable has engaged with these questions in their academic work, continuing a long-running debate among realists, liberals, and others. The participants cover a range of perspectives and issues, including who makes American foreign policy and how decision-makers are held accountable, the politics of national security, and the politics of trade.
Elizabeth Nathan Saunders, George Washington University (Chair)
Daniel W. Drezner, Tufts University (Presenter)
Alexandra Guisinger, Temple University (Presenter)
Sarah E. Kreps, Harvard University (Presenter)
John J. Mearsheimer, University of Chicago (Presenter)
John Schuessler, Bush School of Government and Public Service (Presenter)
How to Write About Your Research for The Monkey Cage
Editors from The Monkey Cage discuss ways to broader the audience for research and engage with a variety of academic and non-academic publics.
John M. Sides, George Washington University (Chair)
Kim Yi Dionne, Smith College (Presenter)
E.J. Graff, (Presenter)
Marc Lynch, George Washington University (Presenter)
Sarah Binder, GWU / Brookings Institution (Presenter)
Danny Hayes, George Washington University (Presenter)
Laura Seay, Colby College (Presenter)
Elizabeth Nathan Saunders, George Washington University (Presenter)
Inequality, Redistribution, and Democracy
We have gathered four papers that develop original research exploring important questions directly related to this year’s conference theme. Specifically this panel’s papers all explore the impact of different forms of economic inequality on the process and outcomes of democratic governance. The paper topics include populist backlash, reassessing the political sources of redistributive policies, the relationship between regional economic inequalities, legislative malapportionment and redistribution, and the consequences of different forms of inequality for democracy write large. We have also invited a prominent scholar of representation to serve as discussant. The combination of authors, papers and discussant should attract significant attention to the panel.
David J. Samuels, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Chair)
Information Warfare, Past and Present
With Russian interference in US and Western European elections, information warfare has assumed a fresh salience for scholars of international security. This panel brings together a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives to examine the strategic imperatives and tactical innovations that shape the conduct of information campaigns between adversaries. From the dueling psychological warfare programs of the early Cold War, to the post-Soviet conflicts over Ukraine, to the recent social media campaigns conducted by Russian intelligence services, these papers reveal how information warfare serves a powerful state’s strategic objectives, how it facilitates soft power competition, and how technological innovation creates challenges and opportunities in the conduct of such campaigns.
Brendan Nyhan, Dartmouth College (Chair)
Chad Levinson, Virginia Tech (Discussant)
Jon R. Lindsay, University of Toronto (Discussant)
Intersectionality and Political Mobilization
Organized groups and social movements play a critical representational role in democracy. One challenge that groups and movements have consistently confronted is that they often neglect to represent marginalized constituencies within their ranks to the same degree that they represent more privileged constituencies within their ranks. In recent years, there has been greater recognition of this problem among group and movement leaders, leading some activists to address intersectional concerns explicitly as part of their mobilizing efforts. This development creates the opportunity for us to observe how organizations address intersectionality in real time. The papers on this panel examine these endeavors by considering a sample of economic and social-justice organizations, the Resistance against the presidency of Donald Trump, and the Women’s March on Washington.
Kristin Goss, Duke University(Chair)
Is it Regime Change?: Comparative and Historical Reflections on the US
The Trump presidency has generated intense concern among political scientists about the suddenly all-too-real prospect of regime change in the United States, prompting the formation of working groups, surveys, and conferences, and leading to an outpouring of analysis and commentary. This roundtable draws from these disciplinary initiatives and provides useful reflections and insights into the state of American democracy on the eve of the historic 2018 federal and state elections. The panelists will take pains to place America’s democratic development in historical and comparative perspective. Indeed an essential aim of the roundtable is to bridge standard boundaries within the discipline and in doing that offer fresh insights into the larger theme of the annual meeting, democracy and its discontents.
Robert C. Lieberman, Johns Hopkins University (Chair)
Julia Rezazadeh Azari, Marquette University (Presenter)
Robert Mickey, University of Michigan (Presenter)
Thomas Pepinsky, Cornell University (Presenter)
Paul Pierson, University of California, Berkeley (Presenter)
Alvin B. Tillery, Northwestern University (Presenter)
Rick Valelly, Swarthmore College (Presenter)
Measuring Democratic Erosion
This panel brings together several research teams devoted to the study of democracy and democratic erosion in the United States and abroad. The panel includes scholars using a range of techniques to measure and assess the quality of democracy, democratic institutions, and the rise of populism in the United States and other countries around the world. The specific methodologies include text analysis and expert surveys.
Gretchen Helmke, University of Rochester (Chair)
Mini Conference on Populism in Europe
In the past years, populist parties have gained increasing traction across European
countries – both in established democracies and in the post-communist states of Eastern Europe –
seemingly signalling a growing discontent with democracy. Despite a long-standing interest in far-right
and far-left movements in the study of European politics, the populist wave has led to new questions
about the relationship between economic changes, nationalist mobilization, party competition and
populist success. This mini-conference focuses on the European experience in a comparative
perspective, bringing together scholars of European politics examining populism from a range of
Collectively, the panels move through: the relationship between economic security and populist
voting, the construction of political insecurity across contexts, the role of business actors (domestic
and foreign) in shaping populist, populist mobilization across different class, gender, and racial
groups, and the role of party competition itself in shaping the opportunities for success. In so doing,
each panel contributes to the theme of understanding populism in Europe, but adds a different
Ellen M. Immergut, European University Institute/Humboldt University Berlin (Chair)
Brian Burgoon, University of Amsterdam (Discussant)
New Approaches to Corruption: Theory, Method, and Measurement
Following the end of the Cold War, scholars and policymakers alike have paid increasing attention to the importance of corruption in economic and political development. Recent work has begun to look into the ‘black box’ of corruption, focusing on the specific acts and aspects that make it such an important topic of study. This panel serves to highlight this process of digging deep into what corruption is, and why that matters. Using new approaches to theorizing about and measuring corruption, the papers on this panel provide a path forward for corruption studies.
David Backer, University of Maryland, College Park (Chair)
Bo Rothstein, University of Oxford (Discussant)
Oligarchic Tendencies in US Politics
For many years, analyses of elections, political representation, and interest groups reported a general pattern of political responsiveness even as instances of political bias were detected. New research on political inequality is documenting, however, a near pervasive pattern of oligarchic tendencies in American politics. In particular, the dominance of the most affluent and finance is emerging in new studies of political representation, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the donor consortiums.
The proposed roundtable brings together three sets of scholars whose new research on quite distinct aspects of American politics point to similar patterns of dominance by economic elites.
Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens find that US government policy has exacerbated inequality, enriching corporations and the wealthy while leaving ordinary citizens to fend for themselves.
Theda Skocpol and Alex Hertel-Fernandez find that consortiums of the super rich led, in particular, by the Koch Brothers are displacing political parties and exerting extraordinary influence on who runs for office, what issues receive sustained government attention, and which policies are adopted.
Lawrence Jacobs and Desmond King find that the Federal Reserve’s dependence on capital markets to generate revenue to meet its budget create structural incentives to distribute selective benefits to finance.
Lawrence R. Jacobs, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (Presenter)
Theda Skocpol, Harvard University (Presenter)
Benjamin I. Page, Northwestern University (Presenter)
Martin Gilens, Princeton University (Presenter)
Desmond King, University of Oxford (Chair)
Alexander Warren Hertel-Fernandez, Columbia University (Presenter)
Political Communication in an Era of Polarization and Social Media
Participants in this section will discuss the political messages that people receive during a time of partisan polarization, widespread social media use, and racial contentiousness. Participants will also discuss how Americans react to and process these messages.
Political Theory in/ and/ as Political Science: Democracy in Theory and Practice
Political science stands out among the social sciences for its continued integration of normative and ideational with empirical study. Many of the leading contributors to the discipline have long engaged in scholarship that draws comfortably on ideas as well as institutions, beliefs as well as behaviors. And the phenomena of politics call for such multimethodological work. The ideas and ideals that motivate political action and the norms that shape understandings of legitimacy are part of the empirical political world. Coexistence under circumstances of disagreement, the problem of costly coordination, and the regulation of collective violence help to define the political condition that normative theories of politics (current as well as historical theories) are about.
It has been particularly true of the study of *democratic* politics that theoretical and empirical work at their best draw on each other. Democratic institutions and ideas about democratic legitimacy are deeply entangled; so are contestatory democratic movements and activity with the normative visions of society they pursue.
This panel works toward rebuilding sometimes-decayed connections between the normative or ideational and the empirical branches of political science. One paper, Wiens’, is methodological. It draws on his important body of work infusing empirical questions into normative research, and suggests a way of thinking about both types of method of inquiry in parallel. Both Bednar and Phillips & Forestal confront the challenges facing democratic politics directly. Bednar builds on her important work on federalism to show its institutional potential as a solution to some of the fundamental problems of democratic theory. Phillips & Forestal bring democratic theory to bear on the current problems of anonymous and dubious sources of news, information, and public revelation, treating the problem as one of institutional rules, not simply normative judgment about good or bad speakers and speech. And Carugati draws on both normative and empirical work about ancient Athens to offer an argument about the reconstruction of democracy today, especially in the developing world. She suggests reasons to think that challenges to *liberal* democracy need not be fatal to the democratic project as such.
Power, Persuasion, and Disruption in Activist Politics
This panel assembles scholars from diverse theoretical perspectives to consider the complex registers of activist politics in times of democratic crisis. Dominant approaches in liberal and democratic theory conceptualize disobedient protest as either a mode of persuasive speech or an act of strategic coercion. The papers on this panel examine the protean registers of political action obscured by this dichotomy, and their transformative effects on subjects, affects, and institutions. What are the modes of power activists generate through dramatic, embodied, and disruptive acts of assembly? Do nondeliberative acts undermine the democratic values of free speech or can they function to strengthen deliberative democracy? Under what conditions do individual and collective acts of withdrawal, refusal, and self-sacrifice become expressions of political power? How does political action transform structures and reshape subjects not simply as its end but through its very means? This panel examines these questions through engagement with various theoretical paradigms and global case studies ranging from Black Lives Matter to contemporary performance art.
Chair: Jacob T. Levy (McGill University)
Federalism as a Mechanism of Collective Problem Solving; Jenna Bednar (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
Democracy and Development Beyond Liberalism; Maria Federica Carugati (Indiana University Bloomington)
Ideal Theory as Conceptual Asymptotics; David Wiens (University of California, San Diego)
‘Democracy Dies in Darkness’: Anonymity, Accountability, Information; Menaka M Philips (Tulane University), Jennifer Forestal (Stockton University)
Race, Class, and the Space for Local Democracy: New Views, New Voices
This Roundtable responds to the 2018 conference theme “Democracy and Its Discontents” and its contention that “these are challenging times for democracy.” This is especially and distinctively the case at the local level: increasing diversity, sharp inequalities in wealth and income, contested citizenship, institutions under challenge, the threat of state preemption to local autonomy, and distrust between police and community, the space for local democracy is increasingly in question. These are important, sobering questions that prompt a range of concerns: how are discontents with democracy emerging at every level in the U.S are reshaping political views and behavior, civil society, social movements, and interest groups at the subnational level? what new forms of political engagement, mobilization, and coalitions and their spatial articulation challenge the adequacy of our usual frameworks, methods, and theories; can we reflect on innovative and plausible alternative models for institutions of representation and decision making that might lead to new spaces for local democracy and better democratic outcomes at multi-scalar levels?
Specifically, Roundtable Participants will present brief comments on their distinctive research findings and methods: immigration, racialization, activism and Latino mass mobilization; comparative analyses of democratic governance and resilience; the influence of economic restructuring & geography on perceptions of intra and inter-group racial progress; deliberative democracy, race, and urban school governance; the effects of alternative financial institutions such as payday loan operations on individual’s political efficacy and political participation; new measurement strategies for analyzing the attitudes and behaviors of racial and ethnic minorities, particularly the links of immigration and health; and developing indices of local socio-economic, ethnic and racial diversity to assess policy impacts.
In an informal poll, past Urban Politics Section Presidents nominated these younger (ABD and pre-tenure) scholars whose theoretical and empirical work is recognized as especially relevant and innovative in substantive and methodological approaches.
Susan E. Clarke, University of Colorado Boulder (Chair)
Chris Zepeda-Millan, UC Berkeley (Presenter)
Allison Bramwell, University of North Carolina at Greensboro (Presenter)
Jonathan Collins, Brown University (Presenter)
Jessica Lynn Stewart, University of California, Los Angeles (Presenter)
Francisco I. Pedraza, University of California, Riverside (Presenter)
Patricia Posey, University of Pennsylvania (Presenter)
Morris E Levy, University of Southern California (Presenter)
State of the Discipline in the Era of Democratic Discontent
Connecting the Dots: From the APSA Sexual Harassment Survey to Studying Gender
Gender Disparities Throughout Political Science
Selecting in or Selection out? Gender gaps and political methodology in Europe
Gender Bias in IR Graduate Education? New evidence from syllabi
How Submission Practices Affect Publication Patterns in Political Science
Democratic implications of a mostly white discipline: Recruitment and Hiring
Democratic implications of a mostly white discipline: Teaching and Research
Studying American Muslims While Muslim: Challenges and Opportunities
Janelle Wong, (Chair)
Dara Z. Strolovitch, Princeton University (Presenter)
Nadia E. Brown, Purdue University (Presenter)
Lisa Garcia Bedolla, University of California, Berkeley (Presenter)
Amanda Friesen, IUPUI (Chair)
Yanna Krupnikov, Stony Brook University (Discussant)
Paula D. McClain, Duke University (Presenter)
Mala Htun, University of New Mexico (Presenter)
Errol A. Henderson, Pennsylvania State University (Presenter)
Stephanie McNulty, Franklin and Marshall College (Presenter)
Jane Y. Junn, University of Southern California (Presenter)
Mary Hawkesworth, Rutgers University (Presenter)
Robin L. Turner, Butler University (Presenter)
Kennan Ferguson, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (Presenter)
Ido Oren, University of Florida (Presenter)
Julia S. Jordan-Zachery, Providence College (Presenter)
Erin Tolley, University of Toronto (Presenter)
Karam Dana, University of Washington (Chair)
Dalia Fikry Fahmy, Long Island University, Brooklyn (Presenter)
Nazita Lajevardi, UCSD (Presenter)
Hajer Al-Faham, University of Pennsylvania (Presenter)
Kassra AR Oskooii, University of Delaware (Presenter)
Youssef Chouhoud, University of Southern California (Presenter)
Teaching Erosion of Democracy
Recent years have witnessed a deluge of commentary warning of imminent threats to democracy in the US, the West, and the world. This, in turn, has provoked a countervailing deluge arguing that hysteria over democratic erosion, rather than any particular politician or political movement, is democracy’s most serious looming threat. For students trying to make sense of our unique political moment, this cacophony can be extremely disorienting. Is American democracy really under threat? What about democracy in the West, or the world more generally? If it is under threat, what can we do about it? And if it’s not under threat, why are so many of us so worried that it is?
To help students answer these questions, we are currently participating in a collaborative course on democratic erosion across over a dozen universities in the US. The course encourages students to critically and systematically evaluate the risks to democracy both here and abroad, not through the filter of partisan attachments, but rather through the lens of theory, history, and social science. More broadly, the collaboration aims to generate opportunities for teaching, research, and civic engagement simultaneously, exploiting economies of scale to identify and open new avenues of inquiry that might not be accessible through a standalone seminar or research project.
Faculty at 17 US universities are currently participating in the collaboration. Some are teaching the exact same 13-week course; others are incorporating several weeks of material from our shared syllabus into existing courses on related topics. We also recently added our first non-US based faculty collaborator, from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. (Please see www.democratic-erosion.com for details.) Faculty collaborate on lesson planning and syllabus design. Students collaborate on assignments, which include a publicly-accessible, cross-university blog, and a meta-analysis for USAID’s Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) section on the dynamics of democratic erosion worldwide. We have also recently begun coordinating with the Bright Line Watch (BLW) survey team, which we hope will result in multiple student projects leveraging BLW data to glean new insights into the current and future trajectory of American democracy.
The eight roundtable participants were selected to capture much of the diversity in the way the course was taught over the 2017-18 academic year: undergraduate and graduate level courses, seminars and lecture courses, semester- and quarter-long courses, complete (13 weeks) and partial courses, etc. We will, however, invite all participating faculty to attend the roundtable, and to add their perspectives to the discussion where appropriate. Beyond creating a space for reflection and debate, the roundtable will also offer us, the participating faculty, our first opportunity to convene in person as a group. This will be a valuable and enriching experience in and of itself.
Robert A. Blair, (Chair)
Hannah McClure Baron, Brown University (Presenter)
Jessica Gottlieb, Texas A&M University (Presenter)
Jennifer McCoy, Georgia State University (Presenter)
Jennifer R. Mercieca, Texas A&M University (Presenter)
Steven Rosenzweig, Boston University (Presenter)
Cathy Lisa Schneider, American University-SIS (Presenter)
Elizabeth S. Sperber, University of Denver (Presenter)
The Crisis of Democracy: A Roundtable of Political Science Thought
As a ‘crisis of democracy’ has taken shape on the world stage in recent years, political scientists and political theorists have confronted a profound intellectual challenge on questions of considerable political consequence.
What are the underlying causes of this crisis? Do they emanate from the dynamics of liberal democratic regime itself? Are they the effects of stresses upon that regime by the decimation of institutions of civil society, such as organized religion and organized labor, and by changes in the international political economy, such as globalization and increasing inequality? To what extent have the constellation of economic and political policies that are often identified as ‘neo-liberalism’ — austerity, privatization of public goods and institutions, deregulation, the promotion of markets, ‘free trade’ — played a critical role? How important are the different dimensions of this crisis, from the decay of political parties and the dysfunctionality of government to the emergence of new populisms and the rise of conspiracy theory and attacks on the ‘other,’ particularly racial others? How do these dimensions interact with each other?
To begin a conversation on these questions, Dissent Magazine published a special section in which contributors addressed these questions. This roundtable would bring these contributors to continue this conversation.
Leo E. Casey, Albert Shanker Institute (Chair)
Michael Walzer (Presenter)
Sheri Berman, Barnard College, Columbia University (Presenter)
Nancy L. Rosenblum, Harvard University (Presenter)
Jeffrey C. Isaac, Indiana University, Bloomington (Presenter)
Seyla Benhabib, Yale University (Presenter)
The Effects of Protests in the US
The APSA 2018 theme is “Democracy and Its Discontents,” and the past years and months have seen a renewed interest in protests among the general public and the press in the United States, from the Tea Party to Black Lives Matter, from Occupy Wall Street to the anti-Trump Resistance. But what are the consequences of these protest movements? The four papers on this proposed panel explore that question, each coming at the same big picture question – what do protests accomplish in the US? – from different theoretical, methodological, and substantive orientations.
The papers explore the effects of protests both on the mass public and on elites and institutions. Torres uses a series of survey experiments to measure the effect of Black Lives Matter protests on overall public support for that BLM, as well as interest in future BLM events. Dumas uses data from Google Trends and Twitter to measure the effect of local protests on public attention to the protest issue. On the institutional side, Harris, Mazumder, & White estimate the effect of local BLM courtroom protests on judges’ sentencing behavior, and Spry looks at the effect of protests on police officers attitudes and perceptions of citizen violence.
The four papers all employ different methodologies. Torres uses machine vision computational methods to develop a measure of depicted violence in images of protests, and then uses survey experiments to estimate the effect of violence in a protest on attitudes towards that protest. Dumas combines local protest data from city records with geo-referenced internet activity data estimates an array of panel data models to estimate the effect of local protests on public interest in that topic. Harris, Mazumder & White combine data on BLM protests with multiple years of sentencing data. Spry combines quantitative and qualitative approaches, conducting both an analysis of protest data and surveys as well as interviews with police officers about their experiences with BLM.
While these papers all take different approaches, considered together, they all focus on a common puzzle: when outsider groups protest to achieve political change, what if anything are the consequences? Does the American Political system absorb and address their grievances, or do structural barriers stand in the way of change? And how, as political scientists, can we best develop tools to test these profound questions?
Vincent L. Hutchings, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Chair)
Alex Hanna, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Discussant)
The Erosion of Democracy and its Consequences
What are the consequences for institutions, party politics, elections, and policymaking of the erosion of democracy that we are observing world-wide? This roundtable examines the impact of illiberal governments and political leaders on democratic stability, the polarization of party politics, and the relationship between citizens and the state in settings as varied as Latin America, Europe, and the United STates.
Anna M. Grzymala-Busse, Stanford University (Chair)
Javier Corrales, Amherst College (Presenter)
Suzanne Mettler, Cornell University (Presenter)
Anne Meng, University of Virginia (Presenter)
Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, University of Sussex (Presenter)
Milada Anna Vachudova, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Presenter)
The Liberal Order Under Stress
The liberal model of organizing politics and society is under stress, both internationally and domestically. Rising powers dispute the liberal international order for being dominated by and biased towards the “West”. Authoritarian state leaders characterize liberal democracies as weak, decadent and indecisive. Likewise, fundamentalist religious thinkers and activists criticize the secularism, materialism, and moral corruption of liberal societies. The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, Brexit, and the growing power of populist movements indicate that challenges to liberal democracy also come from within liberal societies. Many liberal democracies face a loss of confidence by parts of their citizens. Economic, political and cultural changes caused by globalization have created economic and social insecurities. Growing inequalities and fears about social exclusion have nurtured the rise of nationalist movements and populist parties. Where authoritarian populists have seized power, they seek to limit individual freedoms and undermine the independence of the judiciary to consolidate their power. These developments are fundamental to political science in that they question some of the underlying assumptions constitutive for major research fields in the discipline.
Against this background, the roundtable aims at approaching three sets of questions. First, to what extent do current challengers target the core of the liberal order? Are alternative concepts of political and social order, such as nationalist populism or Chinese state capitalism on the rise or are these varieties of existing liberal ideas? If they are genuine alternatives to the liberal order, are they gaining in appeal both inside and outside liberal democracies? How do the current contestations compare to earlier contestations in history?
Second, what are the causes of the contestations of the liberal order? Under which conditions does liberal democracy lose or gain attractiveness, and what drives the rise of alternative scripts? Are these contestations the result of endogenous crises developments within the liberal order are they due to new external forces?
Third, what are the consequences of the intensified contestations of the liberal order and the potential rise of alternatives for the challenges the world is facing in the 21st century, such as climate change, migration, nuclear proliferation, and transnational terrorism? Is this merely another backlash against the ongoing spread of liberalism or are we dealing with powerful new ideas and scripts that will shape conflicts and create cleavages over how to organize societies at the domestic and international levels for a long time to come? Alternatively, do we see even the beginning of the end of the dominance of the liberal order?
The roundtable brings together different perspective and approaches to studying the question. The goal is to discuss an appropriate research agenda and appropriate research programs to understand the fundamental changes within liberal and illiberal societies but also the world order.
Tanja A. Boerzel, Free University Berlin (Chair)
Peter J. Katzenstein, Cornell University (Presenter)
Lisa L. Martin, University of Wisconsin, Madison (Presenter)
Tony Tam, The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Presenter)
Michael Zuern, WZB Berlin Social Science Centre (Presenter)
The Resilience and Erosion of Democracy
How do democracies survive? When do they erode, and how? When democracies collapse by military coup, the change in regime is sudden and stark. But when democracies erode, the process is often far harder to detect. These changes are especially likely to go unnoticed when popularly elected leaders twist laws to their advantage or frame attacks on checks and balances as populist reforms limiting the power of elites. Like the proverbial frog in the boiling pot who does not detect the water temperature slowly rising, citizens and elites may struggle to agree on whether any of the “bright lines” separating democracy from tyranny have been crossed—and, if so, what to do about it.
Yet democratic erosion—either in the U.S. today or in other countries around the world—is never a certainty. Just as there is nothing inevitable about democratic survival, neither is the demise of democracy guaranteed. Indeed, episodes of democratic backsliding may prove fleeting; in some cases, determined pushback against transgressions might even trigger changes in norms and institutions that strengthen democracy in the long term.
This round table’s central aim is to advance understanding of the factors that threaten democratic breakdown and those that contribute to resilience. Bringing together leading comparative scholars on democracy, Larry Diamond (Stanford University), Nancy Bermeo (Nuffield College Oxford), Jennifer McCoy (Georgia State University and Carter Center), Yascha Mounk (Harvard University), Tom Ginsburg (University of Chicago), Susan Stokes (Yale) and Gretchen Helmke (University of Rochester), this round table will explore counter arguments against many of the worst-case scenarios being offered today about the state of American democracy.
Larry Diamond, Stanford University (Presenter)
Nancy Bermeo, Princeton University (Presenter)
Yascha Mounk, Harvard University (Presenter)
Tom Ginsburg, University of Chicago (Presenter)
Jennifer McCoy, Georgia State University (Presenter)
Gretchen Helmke, University of Rochester (Presenter)
Anna M. Grzymala-Busse, Stanford University (Chair)
Susan C. Stokes, Yale University (Presenter)
Theorizing Democratic Participation: Populist Perils and Deliberative Promises
In a time of democratic discontents, this panel proposes multiple lenses for theorizing democratic participation, both the perils of participation fueled by populism and the promises of innovative forms of deliberative participation. Traditional theories of democratic participation—focusing on democratic input through periodic elections for representatives and democratic accountability through diffuse public opinion—no longer seem to provide appropriate tools for comprehending rapid shifts and troubling regressions in democratic cultures, practices and institutions under diverse pressures of increasing economic inequality, declining social welfare systems, increasing salience of racial and national identities, and eroding of traditional governance institutions.
This panel presents new work in critical theories of democracy that combine empirical and normative methods in order to theorize democratic participation under these changed conditions. Theorizing democratic participation today under changed conditions requires first explanatory accounts of democratic deficits—for instance, the manipulation of identity and status anxieties by populists, the increasing political impact of raw opinions and feelings, the declining space for and impact of knowledge and considered judgments, the enfeeblement of popular control over policy and institutions in comparison with elite capture, and, the anti-democratic and anti-constitutional use of traditional institutions of constitutional democracy for regime entrenchment. In addition, we need acute normative tools for assessing various potential responses to these deficits—for instance, fully democratic and inclusive framings of populism, deliberative mini-publics systematically connected to the public political sphere in a way that enhances democratic control, and, early-stage citizen participation in processes of constitutional amendment and replacement. This panel explores how responses to many of the threatening cleavages and fragile institutions felt today call methodologically for pluralistic approaches combining empirical and normative theorizing, even as they call practically for new experiments in participation and alternative decision-making institutions beyond electoral representation and diffuse public opinion.
Christopher F. Zurn, University of Massachusetts Boston (Chair)
Voters or the Market? The Politics of Credibility Since the Great Recession
The 2008 global financial and fiscal crisis occurred despite a wide-spread consensus that the rise of technocratic governance and the de-politicization of economic policy improved government credibility and, hence, economic stability. Most Western countries checked all the boxes regarding their economic governance. They had independent central banks- and most of them the most independent central bank in the world, the European Central Bank- to ensure voters and investors that monetary policy would not be used for short-term political reasons but instead only for monetary stability. They also had privatised their banking system so that it would not be subject to political interference and harmful political appointments. But despite these efforts to generate so-called ‘optimal’ policies, governments were not able to prevent economic and social destabilization. .
The failure to ensure economic stability despite a serious reduction in political accountability in economic policy raised discontent among voters. The removal of economic policymaking from democratic politics to gain economic credibility seems poorly justified if technocratic governance does not deliver on its promises in terms of economic stability. For example, for the Financial Times, central banks face “a crisis of confidence” as their monetary models fail to address problems in the current monetary and financial environment. More broadly, the question to what extent governments can gain economic credibility without alienating voters is central for the legitimacy of the political-economic order underlying modern democracies, and therefore for the theme of this year’s APSA conference “Democracy and Its Discontents”.
To address these challenges, this panel revisits the debates on the tension between political accountability and economic credibility. We build on previous research that has questioned the sufficiency of formal delegation to resolving long-term problems of policy commitment. The Great Recession confirms this view and has put pressure on policymakers and scholars to re-consider their models of economic governance. We investigate the limits of fiscal and monetary delegation, e.g. by highlighting to what extent political pressures that the purely economic models ignore can undermine the original, stabilizing intentions of a policy.
The papers in this panel examine the politics of economic credibility utilizing new, unique data. First, they show theoretically and empirically that formal delegation does not really de-politicize policy. Markgraf shows that the privatization of banks does not preclude political interference in the form of political appointments. Second, they find that policies that were traditionally associated with low economic stability can in fact have a stabilizing effect in critical economic circumstance. Ferrara, Peterson and Sattler find that the expansionary shift of the European Central Bank was crucial to enhance the credibility of contractionary fiscal policies because it reduces political opposition against domestic stabilization. Third, they show that policy delegation benefits markets over voters, particularly since the 2008 Great Recession. Alexiadou finds that delegation of fiscal policy to independent experts, in the form of the appointments of technocrat finance ministers, reduces the cost of borrowing during financial crises, independently of the political and societal situation in indebted countries. Similarly, Gray shows that since the Great Recession, investors are less likely to reward stable, democratic systems than they did prior to the recession. The findings of the four papers have important implications for economic governance and on the relationship between markets and voters in the post-2008 democracies.
Despina Alexiadou, University of Strathclyde(Chair)