Working Groups

2018 Working Groups

An Annual Meeting Working Group consists of a small group of meeting attendees who are interested in a common topic and who agree to attend panels and plenary sessions aligned on a similar topic. They convene at the meeting for discussion. The idea is to simulate a working group conference experience amidst APSA panels. A list of proposed panels by working group are being added throughout June. To join a working group, prospective participants can email the contacts below.

Bots, Trolls, and Fake News: Political Astroturfing Across the World

Franziska Keller, fbkeller@ust.jk 

This working group has met once already, at the previous APSA conference in San Francisco, and we will hold a follow-up meeting at this year’s conference. With the US midterm elections less than two months away, the topic of online manipulation of public opinion using bots, trolls or the spreading of fake news will be more relevant than ever. This working group reunites participants of last year’s meeting, but we have also reached out and contacted scholars not present last year. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss methods to identify both human-operated and programmed social media accounts pretending to be ordinary users, and establish which methods will work across different platforms and in contexts. The participants will also discuss the impact of political astroturfing campaigns, and possible countermeasures. The focus will likely be on the Russian intervention in the US presidential election, and the new insights gained about this campaign since last year. View full schedule here.

Challenges In Measuring Urban Gentrification and Diversity

Stanley J. Marcuss,; Victoria Alsina Burgues,

Identifying the data that measure gentrification and diversity in an urban setting is essential to an understanding of these amorphous terms and dealing with gentrification and diversity issues. A Working Paper that I and two colleagues, including Victoria Alsina, a noted scholar in the field authored as part of the Senior Fellows program at the Center for Business and Government at Harvard’s Kennedy School illustrates the importance of the issue. Our paper compares the socio-economic consequences of redevelopment in Washington, D.C. following the riots in 1968 with the urban renewal program that transformed the Southwest quadrant of the City in the 1950s. The paper can be found at The goal of the APSA working group would be the development of a set of data points that best capture the concepts of gentrification and diversity with a view to establishing an agreed-upon framework that policymakers and others can use in the debates about the important subjects. View full schedule here. 

Associated readings:

Comparative Perspectives on the African Legislature

Yonatan Morse, 

After nearly thirty years of multipartyism in Africa, scholars are still concerned with the quality and trajectory of basic democratic institutions of representation. This working group provides the opportunity to facilitate new comparative perspectives on the African legislature. In recent years there have been several innovative research efforts that have looked more closely at the careers, behaviors, and motivations of legislators, as well as the function of legislative bodies in individual countries. The working group allows scholars working in very different countries to share their experiences and develop broader comparative perspectives. A major aim is to generate new frameworks that can guide future research and more collaboration. Specific outcomes could include shared datasets, joint research proposals, and an edited volume/special issue. In addition, the working group brings together different methodological approaches, often tailored to the unique and often challenging research environments of specific countries. The exchange of best practices will therefore also push future research forward. The working group should appeal to a broad range of scholars working on Africa, comparative politics, and legislative studies. View full schedule here.

Conflict, Cooperation and Interaction in the Global Commons

Akasemi Newsome,

An increasing number of international tensions, conflicts and challenges are linked to the so called Global Commons – areas that do not belong to any one particular state, i.e. the high seas, the atmosphere, Antarctica and outer space. Territorial claims in the high seas areas in the Arctic and the South China Sea are amongst the most well-known examples, but also many of today’s broader security challenges, including migration, piracy, climate change and pollution, cyber security and terrorism, are inextricably linked to areas falling under the Global Commons. At the same time, the Global Commons are less regulated than other international policy areas. As such, they clearly illustrate the mismatch between today’s mainly national systems of rule on the one hand, and key global challenges and conflicts on the other. Nonetheless, the Global Commons areas remain under explored in the international relations and political science literature. This Working Group aims at contributing to address this gap in the literature by discussing a set of key analytical and empirical questions. Empirically, working group participants will discuss key international players’, the EU, US, China and Russia’s, interaction, cooperation and competition towards key Global Commons areas, including the high seas, outer space and the global environment. Working group participants ( Denise Garcia (Northeastern), Marianne Riddervold (Inland University Norway/IES-UC Berkeley), Mai’a Cross (Northeastern), Kristi Govella (University of Hawaii, Manoa), Kaija Schilde (Boston University),Bev Crawford (UC Berkeley) and Julie Klinger (Boston University)) will be meet at Boston University for a pre-APSA mini-conference on August 29. View full schedule here.

European Experiences with Populism

Pero Maldini,

Both the discrete events and the broader patterns evolving in the politics of new democracies in Central Europe and in the established systems of Western Europe point toward significant change with the potential to reframe European unity and security. Are these elite or mass-driven phenomenon? Do they represent a democratic or an anti-democratic impulse? Is 21st Century populism the same phenomenon as experienced in the 20th Century? Are the movements system-specific or are they linkage by some subtle relationship? Can we find in the movements crises of institutions, representation, socio-economic insecurity or alienation? The appearance of third option political parties, often conservative, radical and illiberal, rally segments of the public. Do we find anti-democratic manipulation or a demand for more genuine participation and/or representation in decision-making? Fostering conflicts opens space for populist activity and systems lacking developed civic culture and embedded civic values allows for and spotlights populist narratives and rhetoric. Through this prism, a comparative perspective can form around the trends and manifestation of contemporary populism in Europe. Variations in Central and Western Europe need to be compared and contrasted. Democratic stability is at stake. View full schedule here.

Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Mahendra Prasad, 

The purpose of this working group is to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas across philosophy, political science, and economics. While many political scientists are faculty or students in PPE programs at colleges and universities (e.g. ANU, Arizona, Carnegie Mellon, Claremont McKenna, Duke, George Mason, Iowa, LSE, Michigan, Oxford, Notre Dame, Penn, Pitt, Pomona, Rutgers, Sciences Po, UNC, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Yale), APSA does not currently have a forum for these scholars to interact with one another. This working group helps fill this gap. View full schedule here.

Political Ethics Working Group

John Parrish,; Eric Beerbohm,

We seek to reconnect the research community that met at previous APSA Annual Meetings as the Working Group on Political Ethics. Scholars working at the intersection of political theory and philosophical ethics often have substantial overlapping interests, yet lack means for comparing notes and comparing approaches to problems of common concern. We hope a working group in this area will help to bridge this gap. For this year, we propose as our focus for discussion “Political Ethics amidst Democratic Fragility.” Much has changed for politics during the past decade, perhaps most notably in the democracies of North America and Western Europe. Democratic norms have been undermined or revised with potentially far-reaching implications. Some of the most notable changes have related to increased partisan polarization; a rise in obstructionism and brinkmanship in legislative decision-making; a struggle between internationalism versus isolationism in democratic culture; a more urgent insistence on the need to address long-standing structural injustices related to gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, and disability (and a related populist backlash); questioning of long-standing premises in just war theory; and fundamental worries about whether democratic institutions can respond effectively to high-stakes cross-national challenges such as climate change. What difference should these changes make for scholars of political ethics? How should they alter our research priorities and approaches? We envision that a brief presentation by one or more of the co-organizers would be followed by more focused smaller group discussions on areas of common interest. View full schedule here.

Post-Conflict Parties and Electoral Politics

Carrie Manning,

APSA working groups create the opportunity for small-group interaction among scholars with shared interests, creating opportunities for a conference within a conference. This working group seeks to increase communication and the potential for collaboration between scholars engaged in the study of post-war political parties and electoral politics. This growing area of comparative research already includes a range of scholars hailing from diverse backgrounds in the study of parties, political behavior, post-conflict peacebuilding and statebuilding, as well as specialists in the politics of various regions affected by conflict. This working group will draw attention to the work being done and the ways that it not only cross-cuts disciplinary fields and subfields, but also integrates the full range of qualitative, quantitative, and experimental methods. In addition to attending a common group of panels, participants will have the opportunity to meet outside of the APSA program to network with other scholars, discuss the state of knowledge on post-war parties and electoral politics, and explore possibilities for collaborative scholarship. View full schedule here.

Security Studies Collaborative Research Cluster

Justin Haner,

The Security Studies Collaborative Research Cluster aims to foster discussion among scholars at Boston-area institutions exploring interdisciplinary research relating to traditional state-centric security studies, as well as related topics in international cooperation and human security. The primary objective of this graduate student-led network is the facilitation of training, mentorship, and research by connecting doctoral students across institutions with one another as well as with more experienced scholars. In doing so, the group will offer support for presentation, peer review, and publication of research as well as methodological and pedagogical training. Through fostering collaboration among students and faculty, this initiative seeks to explore, expand, and innovate on emerging topics in the field of security studies. View full schedule here.

The Political Ethnography Working Group

Tani Sebro,; Osman Balkan,

The Political Ethnography Working Group has four overlapping aims: (1) to build a network of scholars and researchers whose work employs ethnographic, interpretive, and qualitative research methods in order to understand and explain political phenomena, (2) to provide a space for the development of collaborative projects (workshops, special journal issues, edited volumes and grants) with a shared grounding in political ethnography as a research method, (3) to develop pedagogical strategies and best practices for teaching ethnographic methods in political science programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, and lastly, (4) to discuss the logistical challenges and ethical issues surrounding human-subject based research in political science. Political ethnography has been defined as being at once an immersive methodology while also cultivating a sensibility (Schatz 2008). As a working group, we seek to ascertain and cultivate new methodological insights into the growing repertoire of scholarship employing diverse ethnographic methods, including participant observations, structured and semi-structured interviews, collaborative ethnography, critical ethnography and decolonial methodologies that come to bear on the political. Email Tani Sebro ( and Osman Balkan ( to join the group meeting and to receive a detailed schedule of events.  View full schedule here. 

War Games and Political Science

Jacquelyn Schneider,

The goal of this working group is to explore war games, or the use of interactive hypothetical scenarios, in political science both as a methodology and as a body of data to examine historical and contemporaneous decision-making. This group is particularly timely for three reasons. First, war gaming, which has traditionally been the domain of defense circles and business leaders, may offer political scientists a new behavioral methodology that helps solve the external validity problem of survey experiments. Secondly, the influential role of war games during the Cold War, as well as a re-focus on war gaming within the U.S. defense community, generates a novel data set for understanding institutional pathologies, decision-making biases, and dominant schema in creating security strategy. Finally, many of the emerging challenges within domestic and international politics have very little empirical precedent, making the use of war gaming a helpful means of moving past non-falsifiable theory to empirical analyses. The members of this group will use this opportunity to explore what kinds of questions are best suited for war gaming as a methodology, similarities and differences between war gaming and other behavioral methodologies, the utilization of data from historical and contemporaneous war games in order to understand decision-making on political issues, and the role of war gaming as an experiential tool for teaching political science. View full schedule here.