Rational choice, historical institutionalism and sociological institutionalism are under criticism from a new 'constructivist institutionalism' – with critics claiming that established positions cannot explain institutional change effectively, because agents are highly constrained by their institutional environments. These alleged problems in explaining institutional change are exaggerated and can be dealt with by using a suitably tailored historical institutionalism. This places active, interpretive agents at the centre of analysis, in institutional settings modelled as more flexible than those found in 'sticky' versions of historical institutionalism. This alternative approach also absorbs core elements of constructivism in explaining institutional change. The article concludes with empirical illustrations, mainly from Australian politics, of the key claims about how agents operate within institutions with 'bounded discretion', and how institutional environments can shape and even empower agency in change processes.
We use a multi-level modelling approach to estimate the effect of ethnic diversity on measures of generalized and strategic trust using data from a new survey in Britain with a sample size approaching 25,000 individuals. In addition to the ethnic diversity of neighbourhoods, we incorporate a range of indicators of the socio-economic characteristics of individuals and the areas in which they live. Our results show no effect of ethnic diversity on generalized trust. There is a statistically significant association between diversity and a measure of strategic trust, but in substantive terms, the effect is trivial and dwarfed by the effects of economic deprivation and the social connectedness of individuals.
A growing literature has focused attention on 'expressive' rather than 'instrumental' behaviour in political settings, particularly voting. A common criticism of the expressive idea is that it is ad hoc and lacks both predictive and normative bite. No clear definition of expressive behaviour has gained wide acceptance yet, and no detailed understanding of the range of foundations of specific expressive motivations has emerged. This article provides a foundational discussion and definition of expressive behaviour accounting for a range of factors. The content of expressive choice - distinguishing between identity-based, moral and social cases - is discussed and related to the specific theories of expressive choice in the literature. There is also a discussion of the normative and institutional implications of expressive behaviour.
A six-wave 2005-09 national panel survey conducted in conjunction with the British Election Study provided data for an investigation of sources of stability and change in voters' party preferences. The authors test competing spatial and valence theories of party choice and investigate the hypothesis that spatial calculations provide cues for making valence judgements. Analyses reveal that valence mechanisms - heuristics based on party leader images, party performance evaluations and mutable partisan attachments - outperform a spatial model in terms of strength of direct effects on party choice. However, spatial effects still have sizeable indirect effects on the vote via their influence on valence judgements. The results of exogeneity tests bolster claims about the flow of influence from spatial calculations to valence judgments to electoral choice.
Theories of inter-group threat hold that local concentrations of immigrants produce resource competition and anti-immigrant attitudes. Variants of these theories are commonly applied to Britain and the United States. Yet the empirical tests have been inconsistent. This paper analyses geo-coded surveys from both countries to identify when residents' attitudes are influenced by living near immigrant communities. Pew surveys from the United States and the 2005 British Election Study illustrate how local contextual effects hinge on national politics. Contextual effects appear primarily when immigration is a nationally salient issue, which explains why past research has not always found a threat. Seemingly local disputes have national catalysts. The paper also demonstrates how panel data can reduce selection biases that plague research on local contextual effects.
Classical rational choice explanations of voting participation are widely thought to have failed. This article argues that the currently dominant Group Mobilization and Ethical Agency approaches have serious shortcomings in explaining individually rational turnout. It develops an informal social network (ISN) model in which people rationally vote if their informal networks of family and friends attach enough importance to voting, because voting leads to social approval and vice versa. Using results from the social psychology literature, research on social groups in sociology and their own survey data, the authors argue that the ISN model can explain individually rational non-altruistic turnout. If group variables that affect whether voting is used as a marker of individual standing in groups are included, the likelihood of turnout rises dramatically.
Hegemonic party regimes are non-democratic regimes that (1) rule with the aid of a dominant political party and (2) hold multi-party elections. Elite coalitions organized under the aegis of a hegemonic party are most vulnerable in elections that coincide with poor economic performance. A declining economy provides elites with a platform around which they can mobilize support to challenge incumbents in elections. As a result, the likelihood of defections from hegemonic parties increases as income declines. This study's original dataset, which includes 227 elections for the chief executive in hegemonic party dictatorships from 1946 to 2004, and its case studies of defections in Zimbabwe under ZANU-PF in 2008 and Turkey under the Democratic Party in 1955 provide evidence for this proposition.
This study evaluates the extent of party-system extremism in thirty-one electoral democracies as a function of electoral-system proportionality. It uses data from the Comparative Studies of Electoral Systems project to estimate the extent of party-system compactness or dispersion across polities and to determine whether more proportional systems foster greater ideological divergence among parties. Electoral system characteristics most associated with party-system compactness in the ideological space are investigated. The empirics show that more proportional systems support greater ideological dispersion, while less proportional systems encourage parties to cluster nearer the centre of the electoral space. This finding is maintained in several sub-samples of national elections and does not depend on the inclusion of highly majoritarian systems (such as the United Kingdom).
The political 'centre' is often discussed in debates about public policy and analyses of party strategies and election outcomes. Yet, to date, there has been little effort to estimate the political centre outside the United States. This article outlines a method of estimating the political centre using public opinion data collected for the period between 1950 and 2005. It is demonstrated that it is possible to measure the centre in Britain, that it moves over time, that it shifts in response to government activity and, furthermore, that it has an observable association with general election outcomes.
The study of education has long been a neglected subject in political science. Recently, however, scholarly interest in the field has been increasing rapidly. This review essay introduces the general readership to this burgeoning literature with a particular focus on work in comparative public policy and political economy. Particular topics discussed are the historical and political foundations of contemporary education systems, the political and institutional determinants of education policies, the internationalization and Europeanization of education, the political economy of skill formation in varieties of capitalism and the effects of education policies. The article also introduces scholarship in related disciplines such as economics, sociology and comparative education sciences, and points out avenues for future interdisciplinary dialogue between political science and these disciplines.
International structures tie the hands of policy makers in the developing world. Dependency on the world economy is blamed for low growth, high volatility and less redistribution of income than average, but the effect of international constraints on mass politics is relatively unknown. This study examines how citizens of developing democracies assign responsibility for policy outcomes. A theory of the distribution of responsibility, combining insights from the political economy of development and the study of mass behaviour, is presented. Evidence from seventeen Latin American countries shows that citizens often blame policy outcomes on international and private-sector actors, to which they, as voters, have no direct recourse. Ties to world markets and the International Monetary Fund, especially foreign debt, shift responsibility towards international actors and tend to exonerate national politicians.
To evaluate calls for a more theoretically generalizable, large-N study of EU interest representation, we adapt the ESA model of interest system density, originally developed to study the interest communities of the American states, to the EU case. We necessarily modify both model and measures in order to account for the unique features of the EU policy process. We test the model with OLS regression using data on the density of different types or guilds (economic and social sectors) of organized interests in the European Union. We use the findings to discuss the viability of inter-system transfers of theories about the politics of interest representation.
Why has the American political landscape grown more partisan since the 1970s? This article provides a novel account of the determinants of partisanship. The author argues that partisanship is not only shaped by the traditionally suggested socio-economic factors, but also by the uncertainty of future income (risk exposure): rich individuals facing a high degree of risk exposure (or poor people facing low risk exposure) are 'cross-pressured'; while their income suggests that they should identify with the Republicans, their income prospects make them sympathize with the Democrats. These two traits have overlapped increasingly since the 1970s. Those with lower incomes tend to be also those with higher risk exposure (risk inequality increased). This has led to a sorting of the American electorate: more citizens have become 'natural' partisans.
To a substantial extent, political participation arises as a result of individuals' interactions with aspects of the social and political environment. The resources people amass, the social connections they develop and the messages they receive combine to influence their propensity towards political action. However, building on recent research on personality and political behavior, it is shown that attention to these factors alone yields an incomplete account of the origins of participation.
This article seeks to further our understanding of how social structure affects the onset of civil war. Existing studies to date have been inconclusive, focusing only on single-cleavage characteristics of social structure, such as ethnic or religious fractionalization. This study argues that models that do not take into account the relationship between cleavages (or cleavage structure) are biased and thus reach faulty conclusions. With the focus on the cleavages of ethnicity and religion, the effects of two characteristics of cleavage structure on civil war onset (cross-cuttingness and cross-fragmentation) are defined and tested. A new index of ethno-religious cross-cuttingness (ERC), derived from national public opinion surveys, reveals that ERC is a significant determinant of civil war onset when interacted with ethnic fractionalization.
The British Conservative party during 1997-2005 appeared to support the view that parties react to defeat by energizing their core vote base. Using a series of spatial and salience-based definitions of the core vote, combined with elite interviews with William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard, the three Conservative leaders between 1997 and 2005, empirical evidence in support and also refutation of the core vote critique is evaluated here. The analyses suggest that Conservative issue strategies between 1997 and 2005 were chosen on grounds of spatial proximity and public perceptions of issue ownership, and that an appeal to Conservative voters was consistent with a broader appeal. The implications of this evidence are important for conceptualizing and applying party base explanations in Britain and beyond.
This article proposes that foreign-imposed regime changes (FIRCs) make civil war onset more likely when they damage state infrastructural power, as in the context of interstate war, and when they change the target's political institutions as well as leadership. Using rare events logit to analyse civil war onset from 1920 to 2004, it is found that interstate war and institutional change are virtually necessary (though not sufficient) conditions for an FIRC to cause a civil war. Many control variables are included. The results are robust to different research design specifications; nevertheless, they cannot confirm that occupation troops make an FIRC more likely to spark civil war.
A novel theory of the healthcare policy of right-wing governments is presented in this article. It posits that the politics of health care is inherently different from the politics of a social policy related to the labour market. Health care protects against risks that are in the main uncorrelated with the income distribution. This implies that median voters will favour public provision, while high-income voters will not. This generates a unique challenge to right-wing governments that have to balance the interests of the two. The solution is marketization via compensation, where public spending is expanded but where public support of private market solutions is given special priority.
Nations have historically sought power and prosperity through control of physical space. In recent decades, however, this has largely ceased. Most states that could do so appear relucant, while the weak cannot expand. This article presents a theory of imperialism and decolonization that explains both historic cycles of expansion and decline and the collective demise of the urge to colonize. Technological shocks enable expansion, while rising labour costs and the dynamics of military technology gradually dilute imperial advantage. Simultaneously, economic development leads to a secular decline in payoffs for appropriating land, minerals and capital. Once conquest no longer pays great powers, the systemic imperative to integrate production vertically also becomes archaic.
Elections are inherently about selecting good candidates for public office and sanctioning incumbents for past performance. Yet, in the low salience context of 'second-order elections' to the European Parliament, empirical evidence suggests that voters sanction first-order national incumbents. However, no previous study has examined whether voters also use these elections to select good candidates. This article draws on a unique dataset on the political experience of party representatives in eighty-five national elections to the European Parliament to evaluate the extent to which voters prefer candidates with more political experience. The results show that selection considerations do matter. Parties that choose experienced top candidates are rewarded by voters. This effect is greatest when European elections are held in the middle of the national electoral cycle.