Recent Faculty Publications
The Political Science faculty at the University of Minnesota are leading publishers in their field. They are authors of paradigm-shifting books and deliver signal and enduring contributions to their field. They are published by the most respected presses and contribute to the most widely read journals.
Open versus Closed: Personality, Identity, and the Politics of Redistribution
(Cambridge University Press, 2017)
Debates over redistribution, social welfare, and market regulation are central to American politics. Why do some of us prefer a large role for government in the economic life of the nation while others prefer a smaller role? In Open Versus Closed, the authors argue that these preferences are not always what they seem. They show how deep-seated personality traits underpinning the culture wars over race and immigration, sexuality, gender roles, and religion influence debates about economics, binding cultural and economic preferences together in unexpected ways. Integrating insights from both psychology and political science—and twenty years of observational and experimental data—the authors reveal the deeper motivations driving attitudes toward government. The book concludes that for the politically engaged these attitudes are not primarily driven by self-interest but by a desire to express the traits and cultural commitments that define their identities.
American Government: Stories of a Nation
(CQ Press, 2017)
Real People. Real Stories. Real Politics. Politics involves people, from many backgrounds, struggling to make their voices heard. Real people, telling their stories, reflect our ideals, choices, and collective experiences as a nation. In American Government: Stories of a Nation, author Scott Abernathy tunes in to these voices, showing how our diverse ideas shape the way we participate and behave, the laws we live by, and the challenges we face. Each chapter features real stories illustrating how the American political system is the product of strategies, calculations, and miscalculations of countless individuals.
Students learn the nuts and bolts of political science through these compelling stories. Learning concepts in context is a tested learning technique that works to help ideas stick. The key concepts are memorable because they are tied to real politics, where students see political action and political choices shaping how institutions advance or impede the fulfillment of fundamental ideas. Not only will all students see themselves reflected in the pages, but they will come to understand that they, too, are strategic players in American politics, with voices that matter.
Narrative and the Making of US National Security
(Cambridge University Press, 2015)
Dominant narratives - from the Cold War consensus to the War on Terror - have often served as the foundation for debates over national security. Weaving current challenges, past failures and triumphs, and potential futures into a coherent tale, with well-defined characters and plot lines, these narratives impart meaning to global events, define the boundaries of legitimate politics, and thereby shape national security policy. However, we know little about why or how such narratives rise and fall. Drawing on insights from diverse fields, Narrative and the Making of US National Security offers novel arguments about where these dominant narratives come from, how they become dominant, and when they collapse. It evaluates these arguments carefully against evidence drawn from US debates over national security from the 1930s to the 2000s, and shows how these narrative dynamics have shaped the policies pursued by the United States.
Narrative and the Making of US National Security won the Giovanni Sartori Award from the American Political Science Association's Qualitative and Multi-Method Research section. The book also won the Robert L. Jervis and Paul W. Schroeder Best Book Award in International History and Politics.
Party Discipline in the US House of Representatives
(University of Michigan Press, 2015)
Political party leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives command greater loyalty than ever from fellow party members in roll call votes, campaign contributions, and partisan speeches. In return, leaders reward compliant members with opportunities to promote constituent interests and to advance their own political careers. Denial of such privileges as retribution against those who don’t fully support the party agenda may significantly damage a member’s prospects. Kathryn Pearson examines the disciplinary measures that party leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives employ to exact such loyalty, as well as the consequences for a democratic legislature. Drawing upon data from 1987–2010, Pearson identifies the conditions under which party leaders opt to prioritize policy control and those which induce them to prioritize majority control. She then assesses the ways in which these choices affect, on one hand, the party’s ability to achieve its goals, and on the other hand, rank-and-file members’ ability to represent their constituents. Astute party leaders recognize the need for balance, as voters could oust representatives who repeatedly support the party’s agenda over their constituents’ concerns, thereby jeopardizing the number of seats their party holds.
In her conclusion, Pearson discusses the consequences of party discipline such as legislative gridlock, stalled bills, and proposals banned from the agenda. Although party discipline is likely to remain strong as citizens become more cognizant of enforced party loyalty, their increasing dissatisfaction with Congress may spur change.
Working through the Past: Labor and Authoritarian Legacies in Comparative Perspective
(ILR Press, 2015)
Democratization in the developing and post-communist world has yielded limited gains for labor. Explanations for this phenomenon have focused on the effect of economic crisis and globalization on the capacities of unions to become influential political actors and to secure policies that benefit their members. In contrast, the contributors to Working through the Past highlight the critical role that authoritarian legacies play in shaping labor politics in new democracies, providing the first cross-regional analysis of the impact of authoritarianism on labor, focusing on East and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
Legacies from the pre-democratic era shape labor’s present in ways that both limit and enhance organized labor’s power in new democracies. Assessing the comparative impact on a variety of outcomes relevant to labor in widely divergent settings, this volume argues that political legacies provide new insights into why labor movements in some countries have confronted the challenges of neoliberal globalization better than others.
Articles and Book Chapters
Robert Nichols, "Theft Is Property! The Recursive Logic of Dispossession," Political Theory, April 2nd, 2017 (published online).
This article offers a preliminary critical-historical reconstruction of the concept of dispossession. Part I examines its role in eighteenth and nineteenth century struggles against European feudal land tenure. Drawing upon Marx's critique of French anarchism in particular, I identify a persistent limitation at the heart of the concept. Since dispossession presupposes prior possession, recourse to it appears conservative and tends to reinforce the very proprietary and commoditized models of social relations that radical critics generally seek to undermine. Part II turns to use of the term in Indigenous struggles against colonization, both in order to better grasp the stakes of the above problematic and suggest a way beyond it. Through a reconstruction of arguments by Indigenous scholars and activists, I seek to show the coherence and novelty of their formulation by suggesting that dispossession has come to name a unique historical process, one in which property is generated under conditions that require divestment and alienation from those who appear, only retroactively, as its original owners. In this way, theft and property are related in a recursive, rather than strictly unilinear, manner. Part III provides a specific historical example in the form of nineteenth-century US property law concerning squatters and homesteaders.
Paul Goren, "Moral Power: How Public Opinion on Culture War Issues Shapes Partisan Predispositions and Religious Orientations," American Political Science Review 60:4 October 2016: 824-844.
Party-driven and religion-driven models of opinion change posit that individuals revise their positions on culture war issues to ensure consonance with political and religious predispositions. By contrast , models of issue-driven change propose that public opinion on cultural controversies lead people to revise their partisan and religious orientations. Using data from four panel studies covering the period 1992-2012, we pit the party- and religion-based theories of opinino change against the issue-based model of change. Consistent with the standard view, party and religion constrain culture war opinion. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, but consisten with our novel theory, opinions on culture war issues lead people to revise their partisan affinities and religious orientations. Our results imply that culture war attitudes function as foundational elements in the political and religious belief systems of ordinary citizens that match and sometimes exceed partisan and religious predispositions in terms of motivating power.
Wendy Rahn with Eric Oliver, "Rise of the Trumpenvolk Populism in the 2016 Election," The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 667.1, September 2016: 189-206.
Despite the wide application of the label "populist" in the 2016 election cycle, there has been little systematic evidence that this election is distinctive in its populist appeal. Looking at historical trends, contemporary rhetoric, and public opinion data, we find that populism is an appropriate descriptor of the 2016 election and that Donald Trump stands out in particular as the populist par excellence. Historical data reveal a large "representation gam" that typically accompanies populist candidates. Content analysis of campaign speeches shows that Trump, more so than any other candidate, employs a rhetoric that is distinctive in its simplicity, anti-elitism, and collectivism. Original survey data show that Trump's supporters are distinctive in their unique combination of anti-expertise, anti-elitism, and pronationalist sentiments. Together, these findings highlight the distinctiveness of populism as a mechanism of political mobilization and the unusual character of the 2016 race.
Joanne Miller with Kyle Saunders and Christina Farhart, "Conspiracy Endorsement as Motivated Reasoning: The Moderating Roles of Political Knowledge and Trust," American Journal of Political Science 60(4): 824-844
Given the potential political and social significance of conspiracy beliefts, a substantial and growing body of work examines the individual-level correlates of belief in conspiracy theories and general conspiratorial predispositions. However, although we know much about the psychological antecedents of conspiracy endorsement, we know less about the individual-level political causes of these prevalent and consequential beliefs. Our work draws from the extant literature to posit that endorsement of conspiracy theories is a motivated process that serves both ideological and psychological needs. In doing so, we develop a theory that identifies a particular type of person—one who is both hightly knowledgeable about politics and lacking in trust—who is most susceptible to ideologically motivated conspiracy endorsement. Further, we demonstrate that the moderators of belief in conspiracy theories are strikingly different for conservatives and liberals.
Tim Johnson with Charles Gregory, "The Chief Justice and Oral Arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court," in, Ward and Danelski (editors), The Chief Justice: Appointment and Influence. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press (August 2016).
The chief justice is often said to be first among equals. This assessment stems from the fact that the chief has some powers not held by associate justices—he initiates the Court's agenda each term, he presides over the conference, and he chooses who writes the Court's opinion if he is in the majority on the merits. Beyond these limited powers, it is unclear whether the associate justices treat the chief as simply one among equals or whether the chief acts as a leader and the associates, in turn, show deference to him becuase much of the Court's decision-making is shrouded in secrecy. We employ data from the one public aspect of this process, oral arguments, to gain leverage on this intriguing question. Specifically, we compare how the associate justices interacted with and treated Chief Justices Burger, Rehnquist, and Roberts during their tenure on the bench.
Nancy Luxon, "Beyond Mourning and Melancholia: Nostalgia, Anger and the Challenges of Political Action," Contemporary Political Theory (May 2016): 139-159.
Political Theorists have increasingly adopted the psychoanalytic language of 'mourning' to characterize experiences of loss and injury, and to legitimage these as claims about a past political or cultural order. Mourning would seek to work through these experiences while opening persons to their shared vulnerabilities. With this article, Luxon returns to Freud's original distinction between mourning and melancholia, along with its development through the work of Donald Winnicott and the relational school of psychoanalysis. Although psychoanalytic mourning balances a coming-to-terms with loss against investment in new social relations, when it is extrapolated to a broader community it risks over-determining the social field. The cost is a foreclosure of other modalities for articulating claims about injury and political order, and in particular those that might draw on anger as a resource for political action and solidarity.
Andrew Karch with Sean C. Nicholson-Crotty, Neal D. Woods, and Ann O'M. Bowman, "Policy Diffusion and the Pro-innoviation Bias," Political Research Quarterly 69 (March 2016): 83-95.
Existing research on policy diffusion focuses almost exclusively on "successes" where many jurisdictions adopted the policy or policies under examination. Some have speculated that this "pro-innovation bias" compromises scholars' ability to draw valid inferences about the factors that influence the diffusion process. We argue that the study of interstate compacts in the United States provides an analytic opportunity to assess whether these concerns are warranted because it allows us to examine an entire universe of cases with unusually wide variability in the adoption patterns. Based on a pooled event history analysis of the interstate compacts that are open to all fifty states, we conclude that the tendency to limit diffusion research to widely adopted policies afects the reults of previous studies. Specifically, it appears to lead scholars to systematically overestimate the impact of geographic diffusion pressures and policy attributes, and to underestimates the importance of professional associations and the oppoortunity to learn from previous adoptions. In sum, the longstanding concerns about a pro-innovation bias in diffusion research seem to be warranted.