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  • Author: Peter Liberman
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: By showing that mass vengefulness helps democratic leaders bring their nations to war, this wonderful book significantly advances our understanding of how cultural values affect international politics. Its most important contribution is demonstrating that democracies that retain death penalty laws were significant more likely to initiate the use of force than non-death-penalty democracies in the 1945–2001 period. The finding is robust to a variety of control variables and specifications, although skeptics may wonder whether it might be inflated by ethnocentrism, beliefs about the utility of violence, or other unmeasured potential covariates. Rachel Stein attributes the belligerence of death penalty states to cross-national differences in vengeful cultures, on the grounds that citizens’ vengefulness predicts both cross-sectional support for the death penalty and cross-national differences in the penalty’s retention. Her rigorous analysis greatly strengthens the case that the unusual bellicosity of retributivists, observed by Stein and other researchers, affects actual interstate conflict.
  • Topic: War, Prisons/Penal Systems, Leadership, Book Review, Elites, Capital Punishment
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Elizabeth R. Nugent
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: The economic decline of the Muslim world and the rise of Western Europe has long captured the attention of scholars across disciplines. Explanations largely focus either on Islam, whether its financial institutions or the essence of its teachings, or on Western colonialism as the culprit. In Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment, Ahmet T. Kuru puts forward a new explanation rooted in class relations. He takes issue with existing approaches, convincingly demonstrating the intellectual and economic vibrancy of the Muslim world between the eighth and twelfth centuries, undermining arguments about Islam’s incompatibility with progress, and asserting that colonialism occurred too late to explain multiple political and socioeconomic crises. Instead, Kuru identifies the eleventh century as a critical juncture when the Muslim world witnessed the emergence of alliances between Islamic scholars (ulema; singular alim) and the military. These alliances persisted through path dependence and gradually hindered intellectual and economic creativity by marginalizing independent intellectual and bourgeois classes in the Muslim world. In turn, the absence of these classes led to the persistence of authoritarianism and the well-documented underdevelopment in the contemporary period.
  • Topic: Development, Islam, History, Authoritarianism, Book Review, Political Science
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Dawn Langan Teele
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: David A. Bateman’s new book explores nearly all of the crucial questions concerning democracy and inclusion that we are grappling with today, from the very broad—how do the ways in which we think about the origins of our nation inform the welcoming or hostile attitudes we assume in relation to immigrants and outsiders?—to the very narrow—do requirements that voters present physical documents verifying their identity reduce the electoral participation of minority groups? In answering these questions, Bateman offers a detailed portrait of the political machinations that result in electoral reforms, describing elites’ efforts to blur lines between expediency and morality and the circumstances that led conservative parties (the same that today seek to abolish laws that give special status to protected classes of people) to work hard to establish and maintain legal provisions that awarded different rights to different groups. Fundamentally, Bateman explains why steps toward inclusive democratic institutions are often accompanied by steps back, which leave us uncertain of our accomplishments and anxious about our future. Remarkably, though, Disenfranchising Democracy considers these familiar dynamics and dilemmas not in the contemporary world but in the rather distant past, drawing on a wealth of archival sources to analyze the timing of electoral reforms, the emergence and ossification of party- based patterns of support for franchise reform, and the political ideas of would-be reformers and resisters in three of the world’s first semidemocratic countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, and France.
  • Topic: History, Elections, Democracy, Book Review, Political Science
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, France, North America, United States of America