The Department is proud to have many excellent Ph.D. candidates on the academic market this year. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our job candidates, faculty members, the Graduate Coordinator on staff, or the Director of Graduate Studies. Candidates, please complete this form.
Non-state actors, civil-military relations, state development, political economy of conflict, Africa
Dissertation Title: To Build or To Buy: Understanding the Determinants of Security Privatization
Description: Why is it that leaders decide to hire private companies to provide for their security, as opposed to depending solely on their state military? In Early Modern Europe, mercenaries were the norm. With the rise of the state military, mercenaries seemingly disappeared, but they have seen a recent resurgence since the end of the Cold War. What can explain the ebb and flow of private security activity over time? Amongst likely privatizers, why do some leaders hire them while others do not? This dissertation argues that leaders of weak unconsolidated states facing existential threats to their regime will be most likely to privatize. I test this theory using an original quantitative dataset as well as a set of 36 analytic vignettes, both on privatization activity in sub-Saharan Africa. I find that privatization at the tip of the spear occurs in unconsolidated states when vital resources, such as oil and diamonds, are contested and state military forces prove untrustworthy (recent coup plots or attempts). This research has implications for the study of state development and will be of interest for policymakers concerned with issues of state failure and private security regulation.
Committee: David Lake (Chair), Miles Kahler, Erik Gartzke, Stephan Haggard, Deborah Avant (University of Denver)
Political theory, history of political thought (especially early modern and nineteenth century), history of science, democratic theory, identity politics, politics and scientific communication.
Dissertation Title: Rational Irrationality: Slavery, Eugenics, and the Politics of Darwinism
Description: My research focuses on America’s relationship to Darwinian evolution. I argue that scholars have inadequately viewed Americans’ beliefs about evolution to be the product of religious reaction or educative failure. A fuller interpretation would pay attention to the role that politics has played. In the nineteenth century, Darwinian evolution became intertwined with scientific discussions about race and became associated with the politics of radical Republicanism after the Civil War. These “political controversies” led to a decrease in the trust that citizens had in scientists and educators. Though natural history had previously formed part of slavery’s defense, natural history became associated with abolitionists and became distasteful to the southern planters, who had previously appealed to the mantle of scientific authority. This dissertation examines the incentives that people have to value religious and scientific authority, the way that citizens acquire knowledge, and the role of partisanship in explaining citizens’ trust in scientific communication and education.
Committee: Alan C. Houston (chair), Tracy Strong, Harvey Goldman, Gerry Mackie, Charles Thorpe (Sociology)
Comparative Political Economy of the Development; Africa; Election and Voting Behavior; Survey MethodsDissertation Title: Traditional Authority in the State: Chiefs and Taxation in Ghana
Description: My dissertation is titled Traditional Authority in the State: Chiefs and Taxation in Ghana, and it looks at the delegation relationship between local politicians and chiefs. I argue that politicians illegally utilize local village chiefs for voter mobilization, and in exchange chiefs receive greater fiscal autonomy to collect informal taxes. This delegation has the effect of decreasing electoral competition as well as eroding the quality of public services provided by local governments. This project takes a mixed-methods approach. At the center is a natural experiment and household survey with a sample size of 3000 that I conducted in 2012 in southern Ghana. Additionally, I use a Bayesian latent variable approach to tease out the effect of chiefly authority on nationwide polling station-level electoral results from multiple rounds of elections. This research is funded by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant.
Committee: Co-Chairs: Clark Gibson and Karen Ferree. Members: Stephan Haggard, Craig McIntosh and Edmund Malesky (Duke)
Political Economy and Development; Vote Buying and Electoral Violence; Southeast Asia; Social Network Analysis; Survey and Experimental Research Methods
Dissertation Title: Social Networks and Illegal Electoral Strategies
Description: My dissertation focuses on the social network determinants of vote buying and electoral violence in consolidating democracies. Although these strategies have been well-studied, relatively little is known about how politicians choose between them, how they decide to target voters, and the implications of these choices for democratic processes, and ultimately, economic development. Since both vote buying and electoral violence are illegal, politicians engaging in these strategies incur costs of acquiring information and monitoring and enforcing political contracts. The role of social networks in transmitting information and organizing social relationships are an important indicator of these costs.
The study, funded by the NSF, collected data from household surveys and politician interviews, in the context of the Philippine national and local elections in 2010. Among politicians, results indicate that their dependence on horizontal ties (e.g., alliances among mayors) vs. vertical ones (e.g., links between mayors, governors, and congressmen) significantly affects their choice of electoral strategy, with subsequent implications for economic development. Among voters, results show that their social networks are as important as their ties to specific politicians: politicians target the socially connected for vote buying and the socially influential for coercion.
Committee: Co-chairs: David Lake and Phil Keefer (World Bank)
Committee Members: Eli Berman (UCSD Economics), Lawrence Broz, James Fowler, and Eddy Malesky (Duke University)
Comparative Politics, Latin American Politics, Political Behavior, Political Parties, Legislative Behavior, Experiments
Dissertation Title: Vote Choice in Challenging Electoral Environments
Description: In my dissertation, I propose and test a model of voting behavior under different types of ballots, focusing on the cognitive challenges posed when voters must choose between increasing numbers of candidates. Although there is a widely held belief that providing voters with more choice in elections can improve representation, I argue that large choice sets pose cognitive challenges that can make correct voting more difficult and can even deter participation entirely. I test my argument using a series of survey experiments and analysis of observational data from legislative elections in Latin America. I find that as the number of candidates in elections increases, some voters are led to make poor choices, others are led to rely on potentially unreliable cues of candidate quality and many others avoid voting altogether. I argue that elections and electoral institutions entail a critical trade-off between the improved representation provided by more choice and the cognitive limitations of voters.
Committee: Scott Desposato (Chair), Matthew Shugart, James Fowler, Gary Jacobson, Ayelet Gneezy (Rady School of Business)
Chinese Politics, Developing Economies, Authoritarian Institutions, Governance, Corruption, Public Participation, Transparency, Program Design and Evaluation
Dissertation Title: Retrofitting Communism: Governance Reform in Modern China
Description: The last ten years of Chinese leadership have witnessed stagnation and reversal on numerous institutional reforms. At the same time, incremental procedural reforms, such as participatory decision-making and administrative transparency, have proliferated throughout the country. While backtracking on institutions and focusing on piecemeal procedural reforms is less risky, it is unclear what benefits such a strategy offers. Taking advantage of sub-national variation in procedural reforms and local-level experiments, I show that procedural reforms can raise public approval for local government and improve policy stability. This study is the first attempt to measure the link between procedural reform and regime stability.
Committee: Susan Shirk (Chair), Edmund Malesky (Co-Chair), Phillip Roeder, Barry Naughton, Claire Adida
Email: email@example.comWebsite: http://polisci2.ucsd.edu/dgueorguiev/dg.htm
Comparative Politics, Latino American Politics, Citizenship Participation, Urban Politics
Dissertation Title: Is Participatory Democracy the Answer? Evidence from Participatory Budgeting in Brazilian Municipalities
Description: My dissertation analyzes the effect of citizen participation on local spending patterns, sanitation provision, and welfare, using the case of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in Brazilian municipalities from 1989-2008. Policies to increase citizen participation have been promoted as wholesale solutions to a variety of problems, from corruption, to voter apathy, to inequality. However, there is insufficient empirical literature to support or challenge these policy prescriptions. I employ Propensity Score Matching and Differences-in-Differences techniques to test the hypotheses that municipalities implementing PB during this time period should experience a corresponding improvement in sanitation provision and welfare as a result of a change in spending patterns. I use cross-sectional time series analysis, comparing outcomes in PB and non-PB municipalities. Preliminary findings show that the effect of PB is neutral at best, and negative in certain areas of sanitation provision. This presents a significant empirical challenge to existing policy prescriptions and conventional wisdom
Committee: Scott Desposato (Chair), Peter Smith, James Fowler, Richard Feinberg, Amy Bridges
Comparative Politics, Political Parties, Immigration, Political Behaviour, Latin America, Western Europe
Dissertation Title: Outsider Politics: Radicalism as a Political Strategy in Western Europe and Latin America
Description: My research is centered on the role of political parties, their strategies and the nature of voter preferences in contemporary democratic politics. In my dissertation, I examined the competitive dynamics of outsider political parties across 30 democracies in Western Europe and Latin America. Political parties face different incentives and opportunities depending on the initial conditions of competition within their party systems. In contrast to conventional wisdom, I argue that radical parties do not conform to the classic left-right, unidimensional continuum but rather that they are constantly seeking to redefine the political spectrum. Radicalism is, thus, a strategy of entry and of persuasion for those outsider parties who are currently shunned from the system and who are seeking to break into it. By moving beyond the lenses of ideology, this approach allows us to address our current realities, namely the multidimensionality of voter preferences and the politicisation of social cleavages in a globalised world.
Committee: William Chandler (Chair), Matthew S. Shugart (Co-Chair), Kaare Strom, Sebastián Saiegh, Akos Rona-Tas (Sociology)
International organizations, nuclear weapons, international and civil conflict
Dissertation Title: State Compliance and the Track Record of International Institutions
Description: My dissertation examines how the past performance of an international institution—its track record of compliance—affects the decisions of states to comply with the institution in the future. The strategic setting of many international institutions features an underlying reciprocity, in which states are more likely to comply when they believe others will comply as well. The decision of a state to comply with these institutions thus rests on its assessment of the compliance behavior of others. I argue that states update their beliefs about others' compliance using the best source of information available, the track record of the institution itself. The actual level of compliance an institution experiences, then, is the result of the interaction between the population of member states and the institution itself. This approach casts information in a new light. Information is often seen as facilitating international cooperation, but here information is a double-edged sword—both facilitating and diminishing cooperation. I test my hypotheses across the substantive domains of nuclear nonproliferation, trade, and human rights, finding strong support for the track record mechanism in strategic settings characterized by reciprocity.
Committee: David Lake (chair), Erik Gartzke, Emilie Hafner-Burton, Miles Kahler, Eli Berman
Comparative Politics, Agenda-setting and Framing, Public Opinion, Immigration, Identity Politics, Institutions in Post-conflict societies
Dissertation Title: Message Received: The Influence of Politicians and the Media on Immigration Attitudes
Description: My dissertation examines why attitudes toward immigrants and immigration policy vary across groups of people and over long and short periods of time. Although I address the role of structural and contextual factors, these explanatory factors fall short in explaining much of the variation we observe, especially in short-term periods of time. Therefore, I shift the focus to the media and politicians in society. Using manual and computerized content analysis on three original datasets, I analyze the effects of agenda-setting and framing on public opinion on immigration in Britain. My work explains the complex role of media and political leaders in swaying public opinion, which is critical to understanding the development of policy and the evolution of intergroup relations.
Committee: Dr. Kaare Strøm (Chair), Dr. Marisa Abrajano, Dr. William Chandler, Dr. Peter Gourevitch, Dr. Karthick Ramakrishnan (UC Riverside)
Global Justice, Representation, Nongovernmental Actors, Agency, Recognition, Democratic Theory
Dissertation Title: Relational Representation: Nongovernmental Actors in Global Politics
Description: The core argument of the dissertation was that it is necessary to rethink the concept of representation as a relational, agency-based activity in order to connect the demands for representation in global politics to the representative claims already evident in the practices of many nongovernmental actors. The dissertation looks at the traditional theory of representation, recognizing that it is often a function of governments, subordinate to the demands of sovereignty. It then attempts to open representation as a relational activity, thereby recasting it as a participatory democratic practice that is capable of making sense of the practices of many contemporary nongovernmental actors and organizations.
Committee: Chair: Tracy B. Strong. Committee: Fonna Forman, Harvey Goldman, Marcel Henaff, Leon Zamosc
International Relations, International Political Economy, Comparative Politics
Dissertation Title: Biasing Institutions: Electoral Geography and International Political Economy
Description: The study of International Political Economy (IPE) often implicitly employs the role of geography in explanations for foreign economic policy. However, whether it be a lack of data or a reliance on effects that should occur on average with geographic distributions of interests, scholars of IPE rarely engage in analysis that explicitly accounts for geography. This project aims to push the field forward on this omission. In this vein, I make three contributions to the field. First, I provide a theoretical and methodological case for why phenomena occurring at geographically defined locations should be tested with location in mind. Specifically, the link between interests and policy--institutions--occurs in a spatial setting. Many theories imply that institutional rules empower some interests over others, based on their geography, but the empirical work often tests these claims at an aggregate level. I illustrate some key methodological and theoretical drawbacks to this approach. Second, I introduce a dataset of geographically referenced electoral boundaries. When combined with other spatially-referenced data on interests and electoral rules, this dataset allow for the testing of theories more closely aligned to the theoretical micro-foundations. Third, I provide three empirical cases illustrating the importance of the interaction between spatial location of interests and institutions on foreign-focused economic policy.
Committee: J. Lawrence Broz (Chair) Alberto Diaz-Cayeros, Stephan Haggard, Sebastian Saiegh, David Victor
Environmental and energy security issues, climate change and conflict, Asia -Pacific security issues, and power projection.
Dissertation Title: When and Why States Project Military Power: Geopolitical Competition and the Return of Gunboat Diplomacy
Description: My dissertation research is on when and why states project power. I test my theory by leveraging a set environmental and technological shocks that exogenously exposed energy resources in the Arctic, the South China Sea, and the North Sea. I then observe how states reacted to the exposure of these resources in terms of whether they projected power to further their maritime resource claims. I have two related projects that investigate which states are most likely to compete over resources, and how different types of states react to spikes in the price of oil.
Committee: David A. Lake (Chair) Miles Kahler, Erik Gartzke, Susan Shirk and Tai Ming Cheung
International Relations; International Security; Conflict; Nuclear Proliferation; Formal Models
Dissertation Title: Deproliferation Dynamics: Why States Give Up Nuclear Weapons Programs
Description: My dissertation focuses on the conditions under which states that have embarked on nuclear weapons programs choose to stop their exploration. I argue that rewards offered by the international community outweigh the expected utility that states anticipate to gain from the successful proliferation of nuclear weapons, such that many proliferators are willing to reverse their nuclear activity in exchange for these benefits. Additionally, my research also predicts that economic sanctions and the use of force may actually incentivize states to continue their weapons programs. Using new data on nuclear weapons activity, I find, in contrast to the extant literature and US foreign policy that the use of economic sanctions actually reduces the likelihood that a state will reverse its nuclear program. This suggests a re-evaluation of traditional nonproliferation policy and a closer examination of tools that the international community can use to alter proliferation behavior.
Committee: David Lake (Co-Chair); Erik Gartzke (Co-Chair); Branislav Slantchev; Susan Shirk (IR/PS, UCSD); Matthew Kroenig (Georgetown University)
American politics, elections, political behavior, voter turnout, and quantitative research design
Dissertation Title: Voting At All Costs: How Demographics Affect the Costs of Voting
Description: My dissertation uses microtargeting data to develop a model of the demographics and voting costs that affect voter turnout and interacts these two sets of variables to gain a greater understanding of how voting costs might differentially affect people based on their individual characteristics. I contend that there are reasons to expect that demographics and voting costs interact with each other to affect voter turnout: voter demographics affect political resources, which in turn affect the ability to surmount voting costs. My dissertation will have important implications for our understanding of why people do or do not vote and will identify demographic groups that are disproportionately burdened by voting costs and which voting costs cause the greatest decline in turnout.
Committee: Zoltan L. Hajnal (co-chair), Gary C. Jacobson (co-chair), Samuel L. Popkin, Valerie A. Ramey (economics), Isaac W. Martin (sociology)
Comparative Politics / Political Economy / Authoritarian Politics / Development and the Environment / Chinese Politics / IR Security / Maritime Piracy
Dissertation Title: Officials Make Statistics and Statistics Make Officials: The Political Logic of Data Manipulation under Authoritarian Regimes
Description: The emergence of the People’s Republic of China as a global economic power despite the absence of political institutions considered necessary for economic growth represents one of contemporary political economy’s greatest puzzles. Conventional wisdom holds that institutions unqiue to China – specifically, China’s regionally decentralized authoritarian (RDA) regime – are responsible for this miraculous outcome. The literature argues that by making career advancement conditional upon relative performance vis-à-vis observable indicators like per capita GDP growth, leaders can generate information and incentivize extraordinary effort on the part of sub-national officials to pursue leaders’ desired outcomes. In this project, I argue that in addition to creating incentives for extraordinary effort, the RDA regime also intensifies officials’ perverse incentives to falsify data and redirect scarce resources towards manipulating observable indicators. The project provides evidence by considering leaders’ recent efforts to use these institutions to incentivize officials to improve local environmental conditions. In doing so, the project exploits the availability of detailed documentary evidence and highly-granular, ambient air quality data used in performance evaluations as well as tools from regression discontinuity designs to test for and show clear evidence that links formal political institutions with these perverse incentives. Moreover, the project uses recent public opinion crises focused on abysmal air quality and their relationship to widespread manipulation of air quality data reported throughout China to illustrate how officials’ perverse incentives have important yet overlooked implications for the credibility of publicly-reported information in authoritarian states. The contribution of this project is thus to help clarify information and incentive problems associated with the RDA regime and authoritarian regimes more broadly as well as their consequences for the leaders of even the most successful authoritarian regimes.
Committee: Susan Shirk (Co-Chair) / Philip Roeder (Co-Chair) / James Fowler / Edmund Malesky (Duke) / Barry Naughton
Research Interests: My area of specialization is comparative politics, with particular interests in ethnic politics and the politics of development. I am also interested in research methodology, especially in innovative research designs and measurement strategies that provide insights into inherently difficult to measure puzzles.
I have extensive experience in Southeast Asia – particularly in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia – in private sector, NGO, and academic roles. Having approached key development issues from a variety of perspectives has led to a belief in research that combines a deep understanding of cases with innovative research methods.
Dissertation Description: My dissertation studies how states can shape the identities of their citizens to alter how ethnic diversity affects key social, economic, and political outcomes. Specifically, I examine how policy can be used to shape the relative salience of ethnic and civic identities, which in turn determine how ethnic diversity affects key outcomes. This is an important but often neglected piece of the puzzle of why ethnic diversity affects some areas so strongly and others far less so.
I find clear evidence that policy can substantially alter the divisive potential of ethnic heterogeneity independently of structural factors like relative group size and the nature of ethnic cleavages. These findings are based on an extensive NSF-funded survey conducted in Malaysia and Singapore, the first of its kind in those countries to use experimental methods to address fundamental questions of identity salience and its determinants. I anticipate that the resulting dataset will continue to provide valuable insights into ethnic and civic identities beyond the scope of my dissertation.
The project encountered two fundamental methodological challenges. The first was to isolate the effects of policies. My causal identification strategy involved measuring the effects of exogenous variation in treatment intensities of key policies, and to a lesser extent, careful matching of cases. The second challenge was to develop clean measures of ethnic and civic identities. I addressed this through several innovative approaches to measurement, including vignettes and survey experiments.
The study of ethnic politics has largely moved beyond the debate over whether to conceptualize ethnicity in generalized primordial or constructivist terms, instead shifting focus to the subtle ways that ethnic diversity structures political dynamics. This dissertation contributes to that evolution by providing important insights into how the state can affect the microfoundations of ethnic politics through concerted policy efforts.
Political behavior, Public opinion, representation, state immigration policy, and race and ethnic politics
Dissertation Title: Immigration, Public Opinion, and State Policy Responsiveness
Description: In my dissertation I seek to understand the factors behind the growth of anti-immigrant legislation at the state level. It is critical that we understand what influences these policy outcomes because states are taking over the bulk of the nation’s policy making on immigration. The core empirical finding is that public opinion is the main driving force behind state immigration policy. I demonstrate for the first time that politicians pay particular attention to issue-specific public sentiment. Legislators do not simply turn to ideology or party identification as readily available cues for which way to vote. My dissertation is the most comprehensive analysis of state immigration policy and differs from previous work both in how it measures public opinion and in its breadth. I also demonstrate that public opinion is not equally influential across all contexts. I theorize and show where and under what conditions public sentiment matters.
Committee: Zoltan Hajnal (chair), Marisa Abrajano, Gary Jacobson, Thad Kousser, Kathick Ramakrishnan (UC-Riverside) and John Skrentny (UCSD Department of Sociology).
Political dilemmas of development, clientelism, basic household infrastructure, income inequality and poverty, participatory governance, women issues, Mexico.
Dissertation Title: Inter-temporal Dilemmas in New Democracies: The Case of Inequality and Public Goods in Mexico.
Description: New democracies exhibit a core dilemma for development. Elections impose short-term constraints to the nature and timing of spending decisions for political parties, who have an incentive to invest in goods with short-term electoral returns. At the same time, development requires long-term investment commitments that yield electoral benefits to future politicians. These incentives are exacerbated by the existence of inequality in the distribution of income, which set the relative number of poor versus rich voters –thus the relative value of their votes. These structural conditions elicit dynamics that are key to understand the under-provision of goods relevant for development.
My dissertation explores these topics by looking at the provision of basic infrastructure (running water, sewerage and electricity) at the household level. I use novel household, municipal and state data from Mexico to parse out the interaction effects between inequality and competition on the quality of dwellings. I take endogeneity and data hierarchy seriously by using an instrumental variable strategy combined with hierarchical models. Consistent with previous research, my results show that electoral competition holds a positive relationship with the probability of full coverage, but this effect differs across level of government. Another central contribution is that the interaction between inequality and electoral competition exists but is conditional on levels of municipal income-per-capita, suggesting that the probability of having full household infrastructure depends on the broader context of income inequality, via political dilemmas.
Committee: Stephan Haggard (co-chair), Alberto Díaz-Cayeros (co-chair, Stanford), Beatriz Magaloni (Stanford), James Fowler, Simeon Nichter, Julie B. Cullen, Fonna Forman-Barzilai.
Authoritarianism, Political Institutions, Legislatures, East and Southeast Asia
Dissertation Title: Deliberative Autocracy: Managing the Risks and Reaping the Rewards of Partial Liberalization in Vietnam
Description: The majority of authoritarian countries in the world now have nominally democratic institutions such as elections and legislatures. Are these regimes inherently stable or not? Most studies addressing this question use cross-national datasets to highlight the benefits of partial liberalization. My dissertation narrows the lens to consider actual delegate behavior within a single authoritarian assembly – the Vietnam National Assembly (VNA). Using this approach, I find that legislatures can bring rewards, but not without posing significant risks. Through quantitative content analysis of VNA proceedings, I show that delegates even in a heavily-vetted assembly are willing to challenge the regime in potentially destabilizing ways. In exploring how such threats can be managed, I propose a mechanism familiar to scholars of democracy – agenda control. In showing the risks and rewards of partial liberalization, this project will be of interest to political scientists studying comparative politics and practitioners working on policies towards authoritarian regimes.
Committee: Edmund Malesky (Chair), Philip Roeder, Stephan Haggard, Susan Shirk, Krislert Samphantharak
After receiving his Ph. D. in Political Science from the University of California San Diego, David Selby held the position of postdoctoral fellow at the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales (CÉRIUM) and the Centre d'excellence sur l'Union européenne (CEUE) at the University of Montreal, and is now a visiting scholar in Rhetoric at UC Berkeley. He has upcoming articles in the Journal of Church and State (available online via advanced access: http://jcs.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/07/12/jcs.css057.short) and the Tocqueville Review.
While at Berkeley David is looking for a publisher for his book manuscript, titled Building a Republic for the Moderns: Tocqueville, Jansenism, and the Necessity of the Political in a Democratic Age, and working on a second project on the intellectual origins of modern radicalism.
Dissertation Title: Another Republicanism: Tocqueville, Jansenism, and the Necessity of the Political in a Democratic Age
Description: My book manuscript is titled Building a Republic for the Moderns: Alexis de Tocqueville, Jansenism, and the Necessity of the Political in a Democratic Age. In this manuscript I use original archival research to argue that Tocqueville was refashioning a particularly French strain of early modern republicanism to suit the needs of a democratic age. To build a republic for the moderns, Tocqueville blends this particular French republican theory with American republican practices into a new alloy, an innovative attempt to transpose an early modern political heritage into a new democratic register.
Beyond just a new take on a great political thinker, in Building a Republic for the Moderns I argue that Tocqueville’s writings demonstrate how republicanism envisioned in democratic terms can still be a vital resource for thinking about political life. Indeed, there are a number is interesting and unexpected payoffs from this democratic republicanism, from refocusing our attention on the political factors at work in his sociology of religion, to bringing to light the republican foundation of political practice underneath the American virtue of self-interest properly understood.
Committee: Alan Houston (Co-chair, Professor of History, UCSD), Harvey Goldman (Co-chair, Professor of Sociology, UCSD), Fonna Barzilai (Professor of Political Science, UCSD), Marcel Henaff (Professor of Literature, UCSD), Cynthia Truant (Professor of History, UCSD)
American Politics, Parties and Interest Groups, Party Organizations, Political Networks, Methodology
Dissertation Title: The Agenda Setting Powers of Party Organizations
Description: In this dissertation, I explore the role that resurgent party organizations play in conditioning the behavior of congressional candidates and congressmen in the United States. Though party organizations have little institutional power to control candidates, they have cultivated a niche in the world of congressional elections by providing candidates with a variety of support services, including access to party donor networks. Donor networks, I argue, offer the party organizations an indirect mechanism by which to condition the behavior of candidates and congressmen. Whereas candidates and party organizations are primarily motivated by a desire to win elections, donors are typically motivated by policy demands. Party-assembled donor networks, therefore, are likely to be populated with donors whose policy demands mirror those of the national party. Thus, to the extent that candidates deviate from expected policy positions, they should be less effective at exploiting the fundraising potential of party donor networks. Furthermore, when party organizations are strong and donor networks are large, candidates should have a greater incentive to cohere with their party than when organizations and donor networks are weak. I test this theory using FEC data. First, I assemble donation networks for each federal election from 1980-2010, and chart the development of party organization-based donor networks at the national and state levels. Second, I examine the effect that reliance on party donor networks has on the roll-call and cosponsorship behaviors of congressmen. Finally, I examine the impacts of institutional variance on the effectiveness of party organizations in developing donor networks and conditioning the behavior of congressmen.
Committee: James H. Fowler (chair), Keith T. Poole (University of Georgia), Samuel Kernell, Matthew S. Shugart, Richard T. Carson (UCSD Economics)
Comparative politics; Indian politics; Political parties; Clientelism; Coalition politics
Dissertation Title: Party Politics and Criminality in India
Description: My dissertation examines the politics of criminality in India. In particular, it proposes and empirically tests a theory that explains why parties in India tend to nominate candidates that have criminal records and candidates with substantial personal wealth. Political parties in India lack a strong reputation for delivering programmatic goods and as a result, political competition centers on their ability to mobilize voters through the distribution of material benefits and other selective inducements. I argue that, as a result, parties favor candidates with criminal records or personal wealth because of they have the means to engage in vote buying, mobilize clientelistic networks, and engage in voter intimidation. Parties differ, however, in their ability to attract candidates. High-quality candidates prefer to be nominated by strong parties. Analyzing state level election data between 2003 and 2013, I find that there is a significant and substantively meaningful relationship between party strength and its propensity to nominate criminal candidates. These results show that party leaders act strategically: when they have the ability to win elections without using criminal candidates, they do not nominate them. However, in a polity where there are very few party strongholds, there is a space for criminals in the political system. Thus, in political environments where elections are highly competitive but where parties are weak, democratic competition leads to the nomination of candidates with normatively bad attributes.
Committee: Kaare Strom (Co-chair), Miriam A. Golden (Co-chair, UCLA), Julian Betts (UCSD Economics), Clark Gibson, Sebastian Saiegh, Matthew Shugart (UC-Davis)
Race and Ethnicity in American Politics, The Politics of Congressional Elections, Political Behavior, Experiments, and The Causes and Consequences of Polarization
Dissertation Title: When Does Race Matter? Exploring White Responses to Minority Candidates in a “Post-Racial” Era
Description: My research has centered around race and ethnicity in American politics, specifically looking at how different racial cues influence the political decision making of whites who are evaluating minority candidates. I explore the intersection between race, candidate partisanship, information, and candidate evaluation using large N observational datasets and a rigorous methodology that builds on prior literature in three important ways. First, I look beyond black and white, exploring the candidacies of Hispanic and Asian candidates in addition to black candidates. Second, I explore the electoral variables that accompany race - information, candidate type, and partisanship - with the goal of creating a more complete and nuanced picture of when race matters. Third, I offer a contemporary theory of race and candidate evaluation, which takes into account different racial groups as well as contextual variables, like candidate partisanship and the racial resentment of respondents.
Committee: Zoltan L. Hajnal (Chair), Marisa A. Abrajano, Gary C. Jacobson, James H. Fowler, Taeku Lee (UC Berkeley)
Comparative Politics, Sub-Saharan Africa, Experimental Methods
Dissertation Title: Transparency, Accountability, and Corruption Displacement: Multi-Method Evidence from Local Government in Malawi
Description: Despite strong theoretical foundations, the myriad of large-scale anti-corruption initiatives intended to increase transparency and improve accountability have been met with mixed empirical results in reducing corruption. I argue that corrupt political officials strategically respond to increases in transparency by displacing their corruption to undetectable forms. I argue there is an interaction effect of transparency interventions and accountability mechanisms on the forms of corruption chosen by political officials. I test my argument in the district governments of Malawi, where appointed district officials allocate much of Malawi’s public funds and small-scale corruption is rampant using methods from content analysis of media, observational data from the Malawian government, and an original, nationwide survey of district officials.
Committee: Karen Ferree (Co-Chair), Clark Gibson (Co-Chair), Stephan Haggard, Edmund Malesky, Craig McIntosh