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  • Author: Frank J. Gonzalez
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In the polarized, post-truth, tribal era of politics that we find ourselves in, a book on conformity—how to understand it and take concrete steps toward diminishing it—should (rightfully) be expected to be of great interest to many. In Conformity: The Power of Social Influences, the prolific Cass R. Sunstein delivers exactly this. This book stands out from Sunstein’s other books in its focus on the broad societal implications of social influence. Sunstein grounds his argument in the principles underlying American democracy, and in doing so, he makes it difficult not to become depressed at how distant our current state of affairs seems from that ideal. However, Sunstein offers optimism in the form of a framework for actionable solutions. Sunstein begins with a model of the two major features of human psychology that he says reinforce conformity: (1) the tendency to believe something is true if others believe it is true (especially “confident” others) and (2) the desire for positive social standing and reputation. In Chapter 1, he explains how conformity is frequently harmful because it encourages individuals to suppress their “private signals” (that is, expressions of what they individually think is right or wrong), which decreases the diversity of ideas in a group and ultimately leads to undesirable outcomes. In Chapter 2, Sunstein advances beyond the framework he has traditionally worked within by considering cascades, or the spread of ideas and practices through conformity pressures, which ultimately give rise to social movements. He acknowledges that cascades are not necessarily “bad”—they are likely what led to the rise of the #MeToo movement—but they were also likely crucial to the propagation of genocide during the Holocaust.
  • Topic: Book Review, Psychology, Political Science, Polarization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Christopher Way
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In a climate of concern about the future of capitalism and democracy, this book provides a robust defense of both. Capitalism and democracy, Torben Iversen and David Soskice argue, are mutually reinforcing, and the combination has been remarkably successful over the past century. In what will probably be the most discussed part of the book, they anticipate that the symbiotic pair will continue to thrive, overcoming the challenges posed by populism and inequality. Democracy and Prosperity provides a challenge to those who believe that capitalism is increasingly unable to fulfill the needs of broad swaths of society and that democracy is creaking under the strains of populism.
  • Topic: History, Democracy, Capitalism, Book Review
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Crow, James Ron
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: David Crow and James Ron look at how global publics view the relationship between human rights organizations and the U.S. government. They argue that ordinary people across various world regions do not perceive human rights groups as “handmaidens” of U.S. foreign policy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Human Rights, Non-Governmental Organization, Public Opinion
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Tom Ginsburg
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: It is hardly a secret that democracy is in trouble around the world, and the phenomenon of backsliding has prompted a small wave of books diagnosing the problem and suggesting solutions. David Runciman’s contribution to this literature is a breezy and readable tour through mechanisms and alternatives. Easily weaving political theory with grounded examples, he has produced a highly accessible analysis focusing more on diagnosis than cure. Runciman’s title is to be distinguished from accounts of how specific democracies are dying or what might be done to save constitutional democracy. Instead, he focuses on the idea that Western democracy is undergoing something of a midlife crisis. Nothing lasts forever, and while democracy has had a pretty good run, it now “looks exhausted in the places it has the deepest roots” (p. 72). Contemplating democracy’s death, the book is organized around a series of mechanisms by which this might come about: coup, environmental catastrophe, technological displacement, and the various alternatives of benevolent and not so benevolent authoritarianism that have been put on offer. His main argument is that while we are attracted to democracy because of its history, the past does not repeat itself, and we are likely to face new challenges not yet contemplated. If democracy dies, the autopsy will be a new one.
  • Topic: Democracy, Book Review, Political Science
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ionut Popescu
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: FOR MOST OF THE POST–COLD WAR ERA, and some say even as far back as the dawn of the Cold War, America’s grand strategy has been portrayed as having had its theoretical underpinnings in a liberal internationalist understanding of world politics. Washington’s role in the world, the dominant narrative goes, was that of a security and economic guarantor of a “liberal world order.” 1 More often than not, this world order was grounded in a set of rules and institutions that helped advance America’s goals but also generally promoted international peace, stability, and prosperity. In G. John Ikenberry’s words, America was a “liberal Leviathan.”
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Christopher Wlezien
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Much research posits a “disconnect” between the public and government. This work focuses primarily on the behavior of politicians and the mismatch between their policy actions and citizens’ preferences. Suzanne Mettler’s book concentrates instead on the public and the degree to which people accurately perceive and appreciate what government does. This book complements her earlier work Submerged State, which delineated how many government policies, such as tax expenditures, are not visible to many citizens, which distorts their views. The Government‐Citizen Disconnect, by contrast, examines how experience with government policies influences what people think.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Bateman
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In his treatise on southern politics, V.O. Key Jr. wrote that “in state politics the Democratic party is no party at all but a multiplicity of factions struggling for office. In national politics, on the contrary, the party is the Solid South; it is, or at least has been, the instrument for the conduct of the ‘foreign relations’ of the South with the rest of the nation” (Southern Politics in State and Nation [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1949], 315). In an early (and laudatory) review of that book, Richard Hofstadter suggested that Key missed an opportunity to fully consider whether the South had affected national politics in more ways than through the reliable delivery of Democrats to Washington, but he noted that this might require another book (p. 7). David Bateman, Ira Katznelson, and John S. Lapinski have written that book. Southern Nation examines how the South influenced public policy, Congress, and the development of the American state from the close of Reconstruction to the beginning of the New Deal. The authors focus on the region’s role in national politics at a critical juncture when industrialization and a rapidly changing economy required new policy solutions. They show that the white South used this opportunity to rebuild its place in the federal government, secure home rule, and shape the national agenda
  • Topic: Post Colonialism, Race, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: George Hawley
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: Survey data consistently show that large swaths of the American electorate favor restrictionist immigration policies. Politicians at the state and national levels regularly campaign on promises to crack down on undocumented immigration and discuss immigrants as a source of crime and a drain on resources. They are often rewarded at the ballot box for doing so. Yet these facts coexist with another trend: relatively few municipal governments pursue restrictionist policies at the local level. In fact, even in places where the GOP dominates, policies that accommodate immigrants are more common than policies designed to drive them away.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Clarisa Pérez-Armendáriz
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: How do international migrants affect their origin countries’ politics? Drawing on evidence from the cases of Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico, Migrants and Political Change in Latin America argues that migrants gain new attitudes and economic resources as a result of experiences in their receiving countries that they then transmit to their origin countries through economic and social remittances and through return migration. Jiménez claims that by transmitting resources and ideas through these three channels, migrants create changes in the politics of their origin countries that they never intended or envisioned. These effects are mediated by local conditions in origin countries such as levels of education and wealth. Moreover, the social networks in which both types of remittances and return migrants are embedded augment their political effects.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David L. Wiltse
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Political Science Quarterly
  • Institution: Academy of Political Science
  • Abstract: In the study of candidate emergence, the cost term in the utility calculus has been of central concern. In this book, Mary Jo McGowan Shepherd makes a valuable contribution to the study of candidate emergence and campaign finance by considering how legal complexity increases the cost term in the emergence calculus. Grounded in complexity theory, she employs complexity measures of entire sections of state campaign finance laws to test whether candidates are deterred from running for office by the costs incurred in learning and complying with campaign finance law.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus