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.



Articles and Book Chapters

Kevin Wei Luo, "Redistributing Power: Land Reform, Rural Cooptation, and Grassroots Regime Institutions in Authoritarian Taiwan," Comparative Political Studies, 0(0), March 8, 2024.
Can redistributive policies such as land reform help authoritarian regimes coopt rural societies? Given that land reform has the potential to disrupt preexisting sociopolitical orders, this article highlights an unresolved puzzle of how regimes balance between the objectives of expanding its rural coalitional support through transformative redistribution and stabilizing its political control over rural institutions during land reform. Using a novel dataset of Taiwan’s 1950s rural reforms under the Kuomintang authoritarian regime, I find that stronger redistributive effects facilitated cooptation of new land reform beneficiaries through a key institution – the farmers’ association (FA). However, I also find that the restructuring of rank-and-file FA membership was still subject to meddling by the native landlord class. I thus argue that land reform, while allowing regimes to broaden their rural coalitions through socioeconomic redistribution, can also paradoxically compel regimes to concede power during institutional cooptation.

Mark S. Bell, Kelso R. Anderson, Cheyenne Tretter, "The End of Inhibition? Why US Nonproliferation Policy Is Becoming Less Effective," The Washington Quarterly, Volume 46, October 13, 2023.
For over seven decades, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons has been central to US foreign policy. The United States has wielded its power to persuade and coerce adversaries as well as allies out of acquiring them. It has built and sustained international institutions which make it harder for states to acquire nuclear weapons and has sought to encourage norms of nuclear restraint and nonproliferation. And when the United States failed to prevent countries from acquiring nuclear weapons, it worked to inhibit the growth of their arsenals or keep them opaque. These policies have contributed to a slow rate of proliferation since 1945.
But the foundations of this policy and its effectiveness—international, domestic, and normative—are eroding. A worsening international balance of power, domestic political polarization, and reduced US legitimacy mean that US nonproliferation policy is becoming less effective over time. US policymakers may continue to dedicate resources to preventing proliferation, but US nonproliferation policies will be less potent in influencing the nuclear calculations of other states. The United States will be less able to make and uphold nonproliferation deals with potential proliferants—and will have to “pay more” when it does—and the US-led nuclear order, and the institutions and norms embedded within it, will be less attractive for both allies and adversaries of the United States.
We make this argument in three parts. First, we outline the contours of US nonproliferation policy and its historical successes. Second, we lay out the factors that have underpinned the effectiveness of US nonproliferation policy. We show that each of these factors is declining and that these declines have contributed to recent nonproliferation struggles. Third, we lay out the implications of our argument.

Christopher M. Federico, Ariel Malka, "The Psychological and Social Foundations of Ideological Belief Systems," The Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology, 3rd edition, September 18, 2023.
Defining ideology as a system of functionally interconnected political attitudes and beliefs, we review evidence concerning (1) the nature and origins of ideology in mass publics and (2) the social and interpersonal nature of the motives underlying ideological coherence. One key conclusion that we draw is that the links between psychological attributes and subsets of ideological attitudes sometimes appear to be organic and functional but other times appear to be conditional on how the relevant attitudes are packaged with other attitudes into socially constructed ideologies. A second key conclusion is that the social motives that induce citizens to pull diverse attitudes into ideological alignment may also, in polarized contexts, induce people to adopt non-political identities and self-perceptions that are congruent with ideological stereotypes. We recommend a focus on the implications of these processes for polarization and democratic stability.

C. Daniel Myers, Kirill Zhirkov, Kristin Lunz Trujillo, "Measuring Support for Welfare Policies: Implications for the Effects of Race and Deservingness Stereotypes," Cambridge University Press, September 5, 2023.
What are the relative contributions of stereotypes about the race and deservingness of welfare recipients to Americans’ opinions on welfare? A recent study employing a conjoint-experimental method finds that Americans’ stereotypes of welfare recipients as undeserving drive negative attitudes toward welfare, while stereotypes of welfare recipients as Black have little effect. However, this finding may be produced by the measure of welfare attitudes that includes questions implicating deservingness. We implement a conceptual replication of that study using different measures of welfare policy opinions that directly ask respondents about spending, both on welfare generally and on specific welfare programs. We show that when support for welfare is measured using the spending questions, stereotypes about race are significantly associated with opposition to welfare. These results have important implications for the debate on Americans’ opposition to welfare programs, as well as for the measurement of policy opinions in surveys.

C. Daniel Myers, Ethan C. Busby, Adam J. Howat, "Changing Stereotypes of Partisans in the Trump Era," Cambridge University Press, August 24, 2023.

Stereotypes of the two parties play an important role in political cognition, and a range of recent studies have examined the content and effects of partisan stereotypes. However, little work has studied change in partisan stereotypes over time. We address this question by comparing data on stereotypes of partisans collected before and after the Trump presidency, a time when we might expect individuals' images of the two parties to undergo significant change. Using a structural topic model, we compare responses to open-ended questions asking respondents to list words describing members of the two parties from 2016 and 2021. We find that partisan stereotypes in the 2021 sample are less group- and issue-based and focused more on personal traits. These results suggest that, during the Trump era, members of the mass public came to see the parties in more personalized, character-focused terms, potentially contributing to affective polarization.

Christopher M. Federico, Agnieszka Golec, "The Father's Love: Collective Narcissism and Defensive Reactions to Allegations about Pope John Paul II in Polish Public Opinion," SocArXiv, June 27, 2023.
Recent allegations that Pope John Paul II turned a blind eye to clergy abuse as archbishop and pope have ignited much controversy in Poland. In this study, we utilize data from an original representative survey of Polish adults to examine predictors of defensive political reactions to these allegations. We hypothesized that national and Catholic forms of collective narcissism (an exaggerated belief in ingroup greatness that requires consistent external validation) would predict defensive attitudes in the face of the allegation, and that non-narcissistic ingroup satisfaction with national and Polish identities would be less related to defensive attitudes. Using a variety of statistical approaches, we find support for these predictions among Polish Catholics.

Tricia D. Olsen, Deborah Avant, Devin Finn, "Can CSR strategy mediate conflict over extraction? Evidence from two mines in Peru," World Development, Volume 170, June 19, 2023.

We argue that corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies can shape political contexts to mediate or exacerbate the resource curse. Using a relational pragmatic approach—one that recognizes actors are dynamic and focuses on the interactions that shape how they see their interests—we develop expectations about two ideal type CSR strategies: transformational and transactional and their relational implications. We demonstrate the usefulness of this approach through the examination of two mines in Peru. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in 2017 and 2018 and secondary research, we show how one mine’s transformational strategy connected the company to common, or public, concerns in ways that rearticulated politics to dampen curse dynamics. The second mine’s transactional strategy narrowed its local engagement in ways that reduced its influence and played into curse dynamics. This research illustrates both the value of pragmatic approaches for integrating CSR into governance and the way in which CSR strategies can help mitigate the resource curse.

Timothy R. Johnson, Ryan C. Black, Ryan J. Owens, Justin Wedeking, "Cameras in the High Court: An Empirical Examination of Support for Supreme Court Justices," Per Curiam: Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, April 18, 2023.

On March 16, 2023, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced legislation that would require the United States Supreme Court to allow cameras in its Courtroom. The bill instantly made news.  It provided a rare splash of bipartisan color in an otherwise black and white polarized Washington, D.C. That the bill also might trigger a direct confrontation with the High Court made it even more newsworthy. But while the bill made news, it hardly represented a new effort. For years, politicians, the media, and interest groups have lobbied and rattled sabers to dragoon the Court into allowing cameras in its Courtroom. Throughout, the Court has remained unshakably opposed.

Mark S. Bell, "The Nuclear Taboo and the Inevitability of Uncertainty," Security Studies, Volume 32, No. 1, 166-172, April 14, 2023.
The nuclear taboo—a strong normative inhibition on the use of nuclear weapons—is one of the most important concepts in the study of nuclear weapons. In the last few years, however, the idea of the taboo has come under attack. Notably, a series of studies have shown that mass publics appear quite comfortable with using nuclear weapons. When given hypothetical scenarios in which nuclear use might be considered, publics appear willing to use nuclear weapons, and concerns about (im)morality appear to weigh less heavily than narrow assessments of military utility. In the latest contribution to this research agenda, Janina Dill, Scott D. Sagan, and Benjamin A. Valentino (hereafter DSV) demonstrate that not only Americans appear comfortable with nuclear use. Surveying publics in France, Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States, they show similar patterns in each country: respondents are surprisingly willing to use nuclear weapons and appear responsive to assessments of military utility. Scholars previously raised the possibility that US publics might be unusual as a caveat qualifying prior findings. DSV’s argument and evidence thus represent an important contribution, showing that prior findings can in fact be replicated across a range of democracies.

Kevin Wei Luo, "Between Scylla and Charybdis: Land Reform and Local Agents Under the Chinese Communist Regime," Studies in Comparative International Development, April 1, 2023.

What determines the process and scale of socioeconomic reform—such as land redistribution—in a new political regime? While the existing literature on land reform has emphasized the role of coalitions and class dynamics, I argue that central-local dynamics play a prominent part in determining a regime’s redistributive ambitions. Using the case of the National Land Reform Campaign (1950–1953) under the nascent Chinese Communist Regime as the empirical focus, I find that the subnational variation in redistributive outcomes was the result of central overseers tolerating policy ineffectiveness of some local agents, but intervening against others. This variation can be traced to the regime principal’s discriminatory attitudes toward different types of local agents in the new revolutionary bureaucracy: centrally deployed versus locally embedded agents. Using a most similar case design involving two Chinese provinces (Zhejiang and Guangdong), I draw from primary and secondary historical sources to trace how the two provinces diverged in redistributive outcomes despite shared political and socioeconomic backgrounds. I suggest that historical contingencies such as wartime guerrilla mobilization and the post-1949 military occupation environment shaped the initial composition of regime agents, leading to the tolerance of centrally deployed agents in Zhejiang, and sanctions toward locally embedded agents in Guangdong.

David J. Samuels, Thomas R. Vargas, "Democracy, Rural Inequality, and Education Spending," World Development, Volume 162, February 1, 2023.
Much research suggests democracies invest more in human capital formation than dictatorships. In particular, scholars have suggested that democracies outspend autocracies on education, due to electoral and interest group pressures. However, some democracies spend no more on education - and some spend much less - than autocracies. What explains this variation within democracies? The answer is the influence of landed agricultural elites. Urban industrial elites support human capital investment because it leads to higher rates of return even if wages increase. Yet greater education spending encourages out-migration from the countryside, reducing the supply and increasing the price of agricultural labor. Given the differential impact of education spending across economic sectors, the effect of democracy on education spending may be conditional on the power of landed elites. We test this argument in two ways. First, we run a series of time series cross-sectional regressions on data from 107 countries for the period 1970 to 2000. Second, we conduct a difference-in-difference analysis, comparing countries that democratize at high versus low levels of land inequality, for 73 countries for the same time period. Results confirm a negative relationship between the power of landed elites and investment in public education under democracy, adding important and novel insight into the sources of differences in public-goods spending and human capital investment both within across political regimes.

Timothy R. Johnson, Eve M. Ringsmuth, Matthew Sag, Tonja Jacobi, "SCOTUS in the time of COVID: The evolution of justice dynamics during Oral arguments," Law and Policy, Volume 45(1): 66-80, January 18, 2023.

We assess changes in oral arguments at the US Supreme Court precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the degree to which those changes persisted once the justices acclimated to the new procedures. To do this, we examine whether key attributes of these proceedings changed as the Court experimented with telephonic hearings and subsequently returned to in-person oral arguments. We demonstrate that the initial telephonic forum changed the dynamics of oral argument in a way that gave the chief justice new power and reconfigured justices' engagement during these proceedings. However, we also show that the associate justices adapted to this new institutional landscape by changing their behavior. The findings shed light on the consequences of significant, novel disruptions to institutional rules and norms in the government and legal system.

Timothy R. Johnson, Ryan C. Black, Ryan J. Owens, Justin Wedeking, "Televised Oral Arguments and Judicial Legitimacy: An Initial Assessment," Political Behavior, January 12, 2023.

What happens to the perceived legitimacy of appellate courts when they allow cameras into their courtrooms? We implemented two experiments that exposed people to real video clips from two courts. In the first experiment we varied the modality (video or audio), contentiousness (neutral or contentious), and camera angle (static or dynamic) of exchanges between an attorney and judge and then measured people’s views toward judicial legitimacy. We found that static angles do not appear to influence legitimacy but using dynamic angles might have a limited effect. Watching a neutral exchange might increase judicial legitimacy—compared to listening to that exchange—but watching a contentious exchange might decrease it. In a second experiment we examined whether the presence of judicial symbols interacts with these effects. Evidence here is suggestive that these symbols could mitigate the negative effect of exposure to contentious content. Our results, though initial and limited in a number of ways, underscore both the complicated nature of cameras in the courtroom as well as the strong need for additional studies on a topic of great importance.

David J. Samuels, "The International Context of Democratic Backsliding: Rethinking the Role of Third Wave “Prodemocracy” Global Actors," Cambridge University Press, Perspectives on Politics, Volume 21, Issue 3, January 4, 2023.
We know much about “how democracies die”: elites and masses become polarized, and norms of mutual toleration, forbearance, and institutional restraint erode. But why do elites feel free to undermine these guardrails of democracy? What are the sources of backsliding? Answers to these questions have focused on the impact of economic and cultural change, and on autocratic meddling. I consider another potential source of backsliding around the world: the impact of the reconfiguration of global politics after the Cold War and 9/11 on politics in the main prodemocratic actors that Samuel Huntington highlighted in his book The Third Wave: the United States, the European Union, and the Vatican. Today, the international context gives leaders in these global powers relatively weaker incentives to stand up for democracy, even in the face of aggressive meddling from Russia and China. Changes in international politics has left democracy with weaker ideational support in the global arena, potentially facilitating backsliding.