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.
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)
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)
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
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.
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)
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