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2020 News


Jesse Savage (TGS PhD) | Political Survival and Sovereignty in International Relations

March 15, 2020 – from Cambridge University Press
Why do political actors willingly give up sovereignty to another state, or choose to resist, sometimes to the point of violence? Jesse Dillon Savage demonstrates the role that domestic politics plays in the formation of international hierarchies, and shows that when there are high levels of rent-seeking and political competition within the subordinate state, elites within this state become more prepared to accept hierarchy.

Jahara Matisek (TGS PhD) | The "Goldilocks Zone" of War and Peace

March 12, 2020 – from The Journal of Character & Leadership Development
“In this article, we contend that educators should strive toward an educational ‘Goldilocks Zone’ approach, where students are forced to grapple with counterfactuals and case studies to understand the implications of the human condition, cultures, and societies within conflict. We further argue that weak states breed persistent civil wars, and that overcoming this ‘conflict trap’ requires war-making and the teaching of such to resolve contextualized political disputes. Moreover, we discuss the utility and limits of military force to include the precarious nature of militarily intervening in civil wars – past and present – in order to illustrate how future leaders should engage in constructive classroom engagements about humanitarianism in such scenarios.”

Mara Suttmann-Lea (TGS PhD) | Bloomberg Bets Old Rules of Politics No Longer Apply. He May Be Right.

March 12, 2020 – from The Christian Science Monitor
Just a few wealthy super PAC donors were able to boost Republican candidates in 2012 and 2016 who wouldn’t have made it off the ground in previous cycles, he says. And while most Democratic candidates have spoken out against Citizens United and eschewed the use of super PACs, “instead we get people like [Tom] Steyer and Bloomberg, who are financing themselves,” Professor Boatright says. Others note that Mr. Bloomberg has committed to keeping his resources on the ground, even if he’s not the nominee. “So regardless of where he ends up in the nominating process, he’s going to have an impact,” says Mara Suttmann-Lea, professor of government at Connecticut College.

Erin Lockwood (TGS PhD) | The Trump administration considers ways to help the travel industry

March 11, 2020 – from Marketplace
When the financial system was in turmoil in 2008, it was pretty easy to see which industries caused the problems and which were suffering. “And this, of course, was concentrated last time to the financial industry, the housing industry, ultimately, the automakers were also involved,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. And so they got federal government bailouts, or loans, regulatory relief — whatever you want to call it. “The assistance that was given to the banking and automobile industries during the 2008 financial crisis came under the heading of the Troubled Asset Relief Program,” said Erin Lockwood, assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine.

Marina Henke | A tale of three French interventions: Intervention entrepreneurs and institutional intervention choices

March 11, 2020 – from Journal of Strategic Studies
"What factors explain the institutional shape of military interventions spearheaded by France? This article suggests that Intervention Entrepreneurs are the deciding agents. To secure the viability of their intervention proposal, they select an intervention venue based on pragmatic grounds. Most importantly, they carefully study possible domestic and international opposition to their intervention plans and conceive institutional intervention choices accordingly."

Samara Klar (TGS PHD) | Civics 101: A Podcast — Independents

March 11, 2020 – from CIvics 101: A Podcast
What prevents someone from affiliating with a political party? What is the ideology of an independent? And how can these voters exist in a two party system? Walking us through the world of the party outsiders is political scientist Samara Klar, head of, Jacqueline Salit and president of New Hampshire Independent Voters, Tiani Coleman.

Chloe Thurston | From Personal to Partisan: Abortion, Party, and Religion Among California State Legislators

March 10, 2020 – from Cambridge University Press
"The parties’ polarization on abortion is a signal development. Yet while the issue has been much discussed, scholars have said less about how it reveals the unstable relationship between legislators’ personal backgrounds and their issue positions. We argue that the importance of personal characteristics may wane as links between parties and interest groups develop. We focus on the case of abortion in the California State Assembly—one of the first legislative bodies to wrestle with the issue in modern times."

Samuel Gubitz and Denzel Avant (TGS PhDs) | Racializing Captain America: How Racial Attitudes Affect Perceptions of Affirmative Action and Diversity Initiatives in Media

March 9, 2020 – from Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly
"Is announcing a commitment to diversity enough to activate attitudes toward diversity initiatives? And what are the spillover effects of these programs? To address these questions, we conduct an experiment imbedded in a nationally representative survey of non-Hispanic White Americans (n = 1,519). We inform respondents that the White actor who plays Captain America will be replaced, while varying whether there is a reference to a diversity initiative and whether the replacement is White or Black. We find that reference to diversity initiatives on its own has no effect but the action of displaying diversity affects marketplace preferences and attitudes toward diversity initiatives."

Alexander Hertel-Fernandez (WCAS '08) | Memo: Why Workers Need Physical Spaces for Workplace Discussions—and What Labor Law Can Do

March 6, 2020 – from Data For Progress
"American labor and employment law is broken. Compared to their counterparts in other rich democracies, U.S. workers have far fewer rights on the job. And federal and state governments all too often fail to enforce the patchy set of protections that American workers do have. Violations of basic workplace rights, like failing to pay workers the minimum wage or overtime and breaking health and safety laws, are surprisingly common in many segments of the economy. Labor unions, the most natural source of worker protections and voice, only reach about 12% of workers, and just 7% of workers in the private sector. Workers need reforms to American labor law that will guarantee better working standards and more opportunities for representation."

Horia Dijmarescu (TGS PhD) | Book Review of Anatomies of Revolution

March 5, 2020 – from Cambridge University Press
"Anatomies of revolution advances a relational, inter-social and historicist view of revolution. George Lawson convincingly rejects a generalizing approach to revolutionary processes, which completely detaches them from the contexts in which they arise and from interactions among social forces across levels of analysis. Instead, Lawson argues that revolutions are ‘formed by the interaction of entities-in-motion—they are confluences of events that are embedded within fields of action that are, in turn, derived from historically specific conditions’ (p. 249). The book adopts an analyticist framework, which moves between abstract ideal-types that highlight causal configurations seen across revolutionary cases and historical narratives, which are sensitive to how the abstract interacts with singular, context-specific events, processes, personalities, institutions and meanings."

Alvin Tillery | Illinois Democratic Presidential Primary Will Be Critical As Biden, Sanders Run Neck-And-Neck

March 4, 2020 – from CBS Chicago
The primary is on March 17, and Northwestern University political scientist Alvin Tillery Jr. said Illinois voters’ ballots will matter. “Absolutely – this is going to be a very critical stretch – the rest of the month’s primaries – because you do have the ability to decide it for Joe Biden, or keep Bernie Sanders in it,” Tillery said. Tillery said the 10 upcoming primaries and caucuses prior to Illinois’ March 17 primary day will further clarify a frontrunner. After Super Tuesday, that is not always the case.

James Mahoney | The Production of Knowledge Enhancing Progress in Social Science

March 3, 2020 – from Cambridge University Press
"This volume considers the challenges facing the social sciences, as well as possible solutions. In doing so, we adopt a systemic view of the subject matter. What are the rules and norms governing behavior in the social sciences? What kinds of research, and which sorts of researcher, succeed and fail under the current system? In what ways does this incentive structure serve, or subvert, the goal of scientific progress?"

Andrew Kelly (TGS PhD) | State Politics And The Uneven Fate Of Medicaid Expansion

March 3, 2020 – from Health Affairs
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), state governments play a central role in deciding whether millions of low-income Americans have access to Medicaid. During the early years of ACA implementation, conservative opposition stalled the expansion of eligibility for Medicaid in many Republican-controlled states, even in the face of strong fiscal incentives. Can any forces overcome this partisan divide? In this article we consider the role of several key mechanisms that have affected Medicaid expansion over the past decade, including electoral competition, ballot-box initiatives, interest-group coalitions, and entrepreneurial administrators.

Jean Clipperton | Northwestern Digital Learning Podcast: Episode 14, Open Textbooks

March 2, 2020 – from Northwestern Digital Learning
March 2 kicks off Open Education Week, a global awareness campaign about the impact of open education on teaching and learning. This episode focuses on open textbooks, a type of open educational resource (OER) commonly used at colleges and universities as free alternatives to expensive textbooks.


John Bullock | Education and Attitudes toward Redistribution in the United States

February 27, 2020 – from British Journal of Political Science
"Although scholars have studied education's effects on many different outcomes, little attention has been paid to its effects on adults’ economic views. This article examines those effects. It presents results based on longitudinal data which suggest that secondary education has a little-appreciated consequence: it makes Americans more opposed to redistribution. Placebo tests and other analyses confirm this finding. Further investigation suggests that these conservative effects of education operate partly by changing the way that self-interest shapes people's ideas about redistribution."

Karen Alter and Cristina Lafont | Global Governance and the Problem of the Second Best: The Example of Reforming the World Trade Organization

February 27, 2020 – from Social Science Research Network
"This article applies the problem of the second best to the subject of global governance reform. The problem of the second best raises a concern about an “approximation trap” where steps intended to move closer to an ideal instead generate outcomes that are worse than the unreformed system. The solution, we argue, is “second-best theorizing,” identifying a package of objectives worth protecting so long as the first-best ideal remains elusive. Our second-best theorizing involves ideal elements that one can approximate, deviant elements that one must defend so long as the ideal is unattainable, a substantive floor so that reforms do not make things worse, and a meta-requirement that wholesale institutional change take the form of a 'constructive vote of no-confidence.' We then apply these criteria, suggesting reforms of the World Trade Organization (WTO)."

Samuel Gubitz (TGS PHD) | National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant

February 26, 2020 – from National Science Foundation
The Political Science Program supports scientific research that advances knowledge and understanding of citizenship, government, and politics. Research proposals are expected to be theoretically motivated, conceptually precise, methodologically rigorous, and empirically oriented. Substantive areas include, but are not limited to, American government and politics, comparative government and politics, international relations, political behavior, political economy, and political institutions.

Laurel Harbridge‐Yong | You Can’t Always Get What You Want: How Majority‐Party Agenda Setting and Ignored Alternatives Shape Public Attitudes

February 26, 2020 – from Legislative Studies Quarterly
“Agenda setting is central to the study of legislatures and has profound implications for policy outcomes—yet little is known about how the public reacts to agenda setting and to majority-party decisions to ignore alternative proposals. We hypothesize that voters will be less satisfied with policy decisions when they are made aware of ignored alternatives. “Through a series of experiments, we show that information about agenda setting can drive down public support for legislation and for Congress as a whole and reduce the perceived fairness of the legislative process. Importantly, these effects are not confined to cases where popular policy alternatives are ignored or where one’s own party loses out.”

Sebastian Karcher (TGS PhD) | Official Release of Online Course "Managing Qualitative Social Science Data"

February 25, 2020 – from Social Science Research Council
In collaboration with the Qualitative Data Repository, the Digital Culture program’s Digital Literacy Initiative introduces a new set of modules of the SSRC Labs project. Diana Kapiszewski and Sebastian Karcher explain how this new course will help researchers become better acquainted with research data management, in particular the management of qualitative data.

Kumar Ramanathan (TGS PhD) et al. | Immigrants Are Far More Engaged In Politics than What You May Expect

February 21, 2020 – from United States Politics and Policy
In new research, Natalie Masuoka, Kumar Ramanathan, and Jane Junn cast doubt on notion that immigrants are less engaged with politics than native born Americans. Analyzing nation-wide survey data, they find that those immigrants who do have citizenship are just as likely and potentially more likely to vote than those born in the US. In addition, looking at political activities that do not require citizenship, they also determine that non-citizens participate at a similar rate to citizens.

Jacqueline McAllister (TGS PhD) | The Extraordinary Gamble: How The Yugoslav Tribunal’s Indictment Of Slobodan Milošević During The Kosovo War Affected Peace Efforts

February 21, 2020 – from Brown Journal of World Affairs
"Since Miloševic’s rise to power roughly a decade before, forces either directly or indirectly under his control had unleashed a reign of terror first in Croatia, then in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and finally in Kosovo. Indicting Miloševic was no small feat: he did everything in his power to cover his tracks. Moreover, in order to secure crucial evidence (e.g., intelligence and satellite imagery linking Serb forces to crime sites) and the support necessary to actually put Miloševic on trial, the ICTY required the backing of Western powers, which—until the Kosovo War in 1999—viewed Miloševic as a vital, yet unsavory guarantor of peace in the region. Reactions to the indictment were mixed."

Jordan Gans-Morse et al.| Trump’s Impeachment Isn’t over for Ukraine’s Citizens

February 19, 2020 – from Washington Post
"From the time that news first broke of Trump’s now-infamous July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine watchers have worried about the scandal’s ramifications, including its potential to tarnish Zelensky’s image as a corruption fighter, to offer fresh fodder for Russian propaganda efforts in Ukraine and to undermine the United States’ ability to promote the rule of law abroad."

James Druckman et al.| Electoral Consequences of Court Expansion Advocacy: Candidate Support of Court Expansion Does Not Have a Statistically Significant Impact on Voting Rates or Vote Choice

February 18, 2020 – from Northwestern University Institute for Policy Research
"Our results indicate that Republican and Independent voters are no more likely to vote, or to vote for a Republican candidate, if a Democratic candidate endorses court expansion. Thus, a Democratic candidate’s endorsement of court expansion will not produce an electoral backlash. On the other hand, our results indicate that candidate endorsement of court expansion does not prompt Democrats to vote at higher rates, or to become more likely to vote for Democratic candidates. Thus, based on our experimental results, candidate endorsement of court expansion is not expected to produce an electoral disadvantage or benefit in 2020."

Bailey Ellis (WCAS '19) and Carolina Laguna (WCAS '19)| Meet the Fullbrighters

February 15, 2020 – from Northwestern Now
Ellis is an ETA in the Canary Islands. A political science major at Northwestern, Ellis is also interviewing residents who are not of Spanish heritage as part of a project to shed light on the experiences of immigrant populations on Gran Canaria. // Laguna is an ETA in La Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Palmira, one of the oldest campuses of Colombia's National University, which mainly focuses on agricultural studies. In her free time, Laguna volunteers with Venezuelan migrants in the city of Cali as well as with the city's chapter of 100 Resilient Cities.

Thomas Leeper (TGS PhD) | Divided By the Vote: Affective Polarization in the Wake of the Brexit Referendum

February 14, 2020 – from British Journal of Political Science
A well-functioning democracy requires a degree of mutual respect and a willingness to talk across political divides. Yet numerous studies have shown that many electorates are polarized along partisan lines, with animosity towards the partisan out-group. In this article, we further develop the idea of affective polarization, not by partisanship, but instead by identification with opinion-based groups. Examining social identities formed during Britain’s 2016 referendum on European Union membership, we use surveys and experiments to measure the intensity of partisan and Brexit-related affective polarization.

Mneesha Gellman (TGS PhD) | Central American Indigenous Movements and the Kurdish Movement. Panel & Discussion.

February 14, 2020 – from Emergency Committee for Rojava
This panel discussion looks at the radical democratic processes of indigenous movements of the Americas with a focus on Central Americas and the Kurdish movement in Rojava to develop a deeper understand- ing of these geographically distinct, yet ideologically proximate movements and to develop solidarities among them. With a comparative discussion of the threats these movements are facing today, we want to explore ways to develop internationalist movements to prevent violence against these communities and help them sustain their vision and practices of anti-capitalist radical participatory democracy.

Sally Nuamah (TGS PhD) | Association of American Publishers Announces Finalists for 2020 Prose Awards

February 12, 2020 – from Association of American Publishers
One of these five Excellence Winners will receive the prestigious R.R. Hawkins Award, the top prize of the annual PROSE competition, which will be named this month. The R.R. Hawkins Award winner will be further celebrated at AAP’s annual Professional and Scholarly Publishers (PSP) forum in Washington, DC, taking place this year on June 23rd.

Arturo Chang (TGS PhD) | Anáhuac and Rome: Converging Indigeneity and Religiosity in Mexico's Republican Moment

February 10, 2020 – from Age of Revolutions
"Anáhuac took on a political valence in the fifteenth century by indigenous groups collectivizing against Aztec domination and seeking to declare war against the 'Mexicans' for the murder of the chiefs of Chalco.[2] In eighteenth century New Spain, Anáhuac was undergoing popular renewal to reveal a new moment of resistance—this time against Spanish colonial order. Cullen’s hurried letter to Bolívar, it turns out, was not entirely mistaken. Mexican insurgents used indigenous revivalism to reframe the revolution as a restorative act that subverted colonial authority by appealing to the successes of ancient American civilizations."

Alexander Hertel Fernandez (WCAS '08) | Why the PRO Act is a victory for workers and our democracy

February 8, 2020 – from The Hill
"While most of the country has been focused on the Senate and President Trump’s impeachment acquittal this week, over in the House U.S. Representatives voted on a bill that, if made into law, would have major consequences for our economy and democracy. The House of Representatives just passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act (PRO Act, HR 2474), and it’s one of the most significant pieces of labor legislation to come before Congress in years. The PRO Act would make it substantially easier for workers to form and join unions and for those unions to negotiate meaningful contracts with employers."


Laurel Harbridge-Yong et al. | Rejecting Compromise: Legislators’ Fear of Primary Voters

January 28, 2020 – from Cambridge University Press
Legislative solutions to pressing problems like balancing the budget, climate change, and poverty usually require compromise. Yet national, state, and local legislators often reject compromise proposals that would move policy in their preferred direction. Why do legislators reject such agreements? This engaging and relevant investigation into how politicians think reveals that legislators refuse compromise - and exacerbate gridlock - because they fear punishment from voters in primary elections. Prioritizing these electoral interests can lead lawmakers to act in ways that hurt their policy interests and also overlook the broader electorate's preferences by representing only a subset of voters with rigid positions.

James Druckman, John Bullock, et al. | College sports show interactions with people from other backgrounds affects policy attitudes, professor suggests

January 6, 2020 – from The Daily Northwestern
The study — which collected about 32,000 email contacts — surveyed NCAA athletes, coaches and school administrators. Respondents’ own identities and level of interaction with black and female athletes were compared with their approval of policies supporting those two groups. “The idea here is that the more somebody who’s not a member of that group interacts with members of that group, the more they’re going to learn their perspective and possibly come to support those policies views,” Druckman said.
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