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Publications from the Department of Political Science Faculty

Benjamin McKean 

Book cover of Disorienting Neoliberalism

Disorienting Neoliberalism: Global Justice and the Outer Limit of Freedom

Published by Oxford University Press, 2022

In the world neoliberalism has made, the pervasiveness of injustice and the scale of inequality can be so overwhelming that meaningful resistance seems impossible. Disorienting Neoliberalism argues that combatting the injustices of today's global economy begins with reorienting our way of seeing so that we can act more effectively. Within political theory, standard approaches to global justice envision ideal institutions, but provide little guidance for people responding to today's most urgent problems. Meanwhile, empirical and historical research explains how neoliberalism achieved political and intellectual hegemony, but not how we can imagine its replacement.

Disorienting Neoliberalism argues that people can and should become disposed to solidarity with each other once they see global injustices as a limit on their own freedom. Benjamin L. McKean reorients us by taking us inside the global supply chains that assemble clothes, electronics, and other goods, revealing the tension between neoliberal theories of freedom and the hierarchical, coercive reality of their operations. In this new approach to global justice, he explains how neoliberal institutions and ideas constrain the freedom of people throughout the supply chain from worker to consumer. Rather than a linked set of private market exchanges, supply chains are political entities that seek to govern the rest of us. Where neoliberal institutions train us to see each other as competitors, McKean provides a new orientation to the global economy in which we can see each other as partners in resisting a shared obstacle to freedom -- and thus be called to collective action.

Drawing from a wide range of thinkers, from Hegel and John Rawls to W. E. B. Du Bois and Iris Marion Young, Disorienting Neoliberalism shows how political action today can be meaningful and promote justice, moving beyond the pity and resentment global inequality often provokes to a new politics of solidarity.

Nicole Yadon 

Book cover of Skin Color, Power, and Politics in America

Skin Color, Power, and Politics in America

Published by the Russell Sage Foundation, 2022

A person’s skin color affects their life experiences including income, educational attainment, health outcomes, exposure to discrimination, interactions with the criminal justice system and one’s sense of ethnoracial group belonging. But, do these disparate experiences affect the relationship between skin color and political views? In Skin Color, Power, and Politics in America, political scientists Mara Ostfeld and Nicole Yadon explore the relationship between skin color and political views in the U.S. among Latino, Black, and White Americans. They examine how skin color influences an individual’s politics and whether a person’s political views influence how they assess their own skin color.

Ostfeld and Yadon surveyed over 1,300 people about their political views, including party affiliation, their opinions on welfare, and the importance of speaking English in the U.S. The authors created a matrix grounded in their “Roots of Race” framework, which predicts the relationship between skin color and political attitudes for each ethnoracial group based on the blurriness of the group’s boundaries and historical levels of privilege. They draw upon three distinct measures of skin color to conceptualize the relationship between skin color and political views: “Machine-Rated Skin Color,” measured with a light-reflectance meter; “Self-Assessed Skin Color,” using the Yadon-Ostfeld Skin Color Scale; and “Skin Color Discrepancy,” the difference between one’s Machine-Rated and Self-Assessed Skin Color.

Ostfeld and Yadon examine patterns that emerge among these measures, and their relationships with life experiences and political stances. Among Latinos, a group with relatively blurry group boundaries and low levels of historical privilege, the authors find a robust relationship between political views and Self-Assessed Skin Color. Latinos who overestimate the lightness of their skin color are more likely to hold conservative views on current racialized political issues, such as policing. Latinos who overestimate the darkness of their skin color, on the other hand, are more likely to hold liberal political views. As America’s major political parties remain divided on issues of race, this suggests that for Latinos, self-reported skin color is used as a means of aligning oneself with valued political coalitions.

African Americans, another group with low levels of historical privilege but with more clearly defined group boundaries, demonstrated no significant relationship between skin color and political attitudes. Thus, the lived experiences associated with being African American appeared to supersede the differences in life experiences due to skin color.

Whites, a group with more historical privilege and increasingly blurry group boundaries, showed a clear relationship between machine-assessed skin color and attitudes on political issues. Those with darker Machine-Rated Skin Color are more likely to hold conservative views, suggesting that they are responding to the threat of losing their privilege in a multicultural society.

At a time when the U.S. is both more diverse and politically divided, Skin Color, Power, and Politics in America is a timely account of the ways in which skin color and politics are intertwined.

Emma Saunders-Hastings

Book cover of Private Virtues

Private Virtues, Public Vices: Philanthropy and Democratic Equality

Published by The University of Chicago Press, 2022

Philanthropy plays a huge role in supporting the provision of many public goods in contemporary societies. As a result, decisions that affect public outcomes and people’s diverse interests are often dependent on the preferences and judgments of the rich. Political theorist Emma Saunders-Hastings argues that philanthropy is a deeply political activity. She asks readers to look at how the power wielded by philanthropy impacts democracy and deepens political inequality by enabling the wealthy to exercise outsize influence in public life and by putting in place paternalistic relationships between donors and their intended beneficiaries. If philanthropy is to be made compatible with a democratic society of equals, it must be judged not simply on the benefits it brings but on its wider political consequences. Timely and thought-provoking, Private Virtues, Public Vices will challenge readers’ thoughts on what philanthropy is and how it truly affects us.


Philipp Rehm 

Book Cover of Big Data and the Welfare State

Big Data and the Welfare State: How the Information Revolution Threatens Social Solidarity 

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2022

A core principle of the welfare state is that everyone pays taxes or contributions in exchange for universal insurance against social risks such as sickness, old age, unemployment, and plain bad luck. This solidarity principle assumes that everyone is a member of a single national insurance pool, and it is commonly explained by poor and asymmetric information, which undermines markets and creates the perception that we are all in the same boat. Living in the midst of an information revolution, this is no longer a satisfactory approach. This book explores, theoretically and empirically, the consequences of 'big data' for the politics of social protection. Torben Iversen and Philipp Rehm argue that more and better data polarize preferences over public insurance and often segment social insurance into smaller, more homogenous, and less redistributive pools, using cases studies of health and unemployment insurance and statistical analyses of life insurance, credit markets, and public opinion.

Eric MacGilvray 

Book cover of Liberal Freedom

Liberal Freedom: Pluralism, Polarization, and Politics


Published by Cambridge University Press, 2022

We seem to be losing the ability to talk to each other about – and despite – our political differences. The liberal tradition, with its emphasis on open-mindedness, toleration, and inclusion, is ideally suited to respond to this challenge. Yet liberalism is often seen today as a barrier to constructive dialogue: narrowly focused on individual rights, indifferent to the communal sources of human well-being, and deeply implicated in structures of economic and social domination. This book provides a novel defense of liberalism that weaves together a commitment to republican self-government, an emphasis on the value of unregulated choice, and an appreciation of how hard it is to strike a balance between them. By treating freedom rather than justice as the central liberal value this important book, critical to the times, provides an indispensable resource for constructive dialogue in a time of political polarization.

Skylar Cranmer

Book cover of Inferential Network Analysis

Inferential Network Analysis 

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2020

This unique textbook provides an introduction to statistical inference with network data. The authors present a self-contained derivation and mathematical formulation of methods, review examples, and real-world applications, as well as provide data and code in the R environment that can be customised. Inferential network analysis transcends fields, and examples from across the social sciences are discussed (from management to electoral politics), which can be adapted and applied to a panorama of research. From scholars to undergraduates, spanning the social, mathematical, computational and physical sciences, readers will be introduced to inferential network models and their extensions. The exponential random graph model and latent space network model are paid particular attention and, fundamentally, the reader is given the tools to independently conduct their own analyses.

Bear Braumoeller

Book cover of Only the Dead

Only the Dead: The Persistence of War in the Modern Age

Published by Oxford University Press, 2019

The idea that war is going out of style has become the conventional wisdom in recent years. But in Only the Dead, award-winning author Bear Braumoeller demonstrates that it shouldn't have. With a rare combination of historical expertise, statistical acumen, and accessible prose, Braumoeller shows that the evidence simply doesn't support the decline-of-war thesis propounded by scholars like Steven Pinker. He argues that the key to understanding trends in warfare lies, not in the spread of humanitarian values, but rather in the formation of international orders--sets of expectations about behavior that allow countries to work in concert, as they did in the Concert of Europe and have done in the postwar Western liberal order. With a nod toward the American sociologist Charles Tilly, who argued that "war made the state and the state made war," Braumoeller shows argues that the same is true of international orders: while they reduce conflict within their borders, they can also clash violently with one another, as the Western and communist orders did throughout the Cold War.

Both highly readable and rigorous, Only the Dead offers a realistic assessment of humanity's quest to abolish warfare. While pessimists have been too quick to discount the successes of our attempts to reduce international conflict, optimists are prone to put too much faith in human nature. Reality lies somewhere in between: While the aspirations of humankind to govern its behavior with reason and justice have had shocking success in moderating the harsh dictates of realpolitik, the institutions that we have created to prevent war are unlikely to achieve anything like total success--as evidenced by the multitude of conflicts in recent decades. As the old adage advises us, only the dead have seen the end of war.

Inés Valdez

Book cover of Transnational Cosmopolitanism

Transnational Cosmopolitanism: Kant, Du Bois, and Justice as a Political Craft

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2019

Based on the theoretical reconstruction of neglected post-WWI writings and political action of W. E. B. Du Bois, this volume offers a normative account of transnational cosmopolitanism. Pointing out the limitations of Kant's cosmopolitanism through a novel contextual account of Perpetual Peace, Transnational Cosmopolitanism shows how these limits remain in neo-Kantian scholarship. Inés Valdez's framework overcomes these limitations in a methodologically unique way, taking Du Bois's writings and his coalitional political action both as text that should inform our theorization and normative insights. The cosmopolitanism proposed in this work is an original contribution that questions the contemporary currency of Kant's canonical approach and enlists overlooked resources to radicalize, democratize, and transnationalize cosmopolitanism.

Michael Neblo

Book cover of Politics with the People

Politics with the People: Building a Directly Representative Democracy

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2018

Many citizens in the US and abroad fear that democratic institutions have become weak, and continue to weaken. Politics with the People develops the principles and practice of 'directly representative democracy' - a new way of connecting citizens and elected officials to improve representative government. Sitting members of Congress agreed to meet with groups of their constituents via online, deliberative town hall meetings to discuss some of the most important and controversial issues of the day. The results from these experiments reveal a model of how our democracy could work, where politicians consult with and inform citizens in substantive discussions, and where otherwise marginalized citizens participate and are empowered. Moving beyond our broken system of interest group politics and partisan bloodsport, directly representative reforms will help restore citizens' faith in the institutions of democratic self-government, precisely at a time when those institutions themselves feel dysfunctional and endangered.

Rachel Bowen

Book cover of The Achilles Heel of Democracy

The Achilles Heel of Democracy: Judicial Autonomy and the Rule of Law in Central America

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2017

Abstract: Featuring the first in-depth comparison of the judicial politics of five under-studied Central American countries, The Achilles Heel of Democracy offers a novel typology of 'judicial regime types' based on the political independence and societal autonomy of the judiciary. This book highlights the under-theorized influences on the justice system - criminals, activists, and other societal actors, and the ways that they intersect with more overtly political influences. Grounded in interviews with judges, lawyers, and activists, it presents the 'high politics' of constitutional conflicts in the context of national political conflicts as well as the 'low politics' of crime control and the operations of trial-level courts. The book begins in the violent and often authoritarian 1980s in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and spans through the tumultuous 2015 'Guatemalan Spring'; the evolution of Costa Rica's robust liberal judicial regime is traced from the 1950s.

Philipp Rehm

Book cover of Risk Inequality and Welfare States

Risk Inequality and Welfare States: Social Policy Preferences, Development, and Dynamics
Published by Cambridge University Press, 2016

Abstract: The transformation of night-watchman states into welfare states is one of the most notable societal developments in recent history. In 1880, not a single country had a nationally compulsory social policy program. A few decades later, every single one of today's rich democracies had adopted programs covering all or almost all of the main risks people face: old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment. These programs rapidly expanded in terms of range, reach, and resources. Today, all rich democracies cover all main risks for a vast majority of citizens, with binding public or mandatory private programs. Three aspects of this remarkable transformation are particularly fascinating: the trend (the transformation to insurance states happened in all rich democracies); differences across countries (the generosity of social policy varies greatly across countries); and the dynamics of the process. This book offers a theory that not only explains this remarkable transition but also explains cross-national differences and the role of crises for social policy development.

Michael Neblo

Book cover of Deliberative Democracy between Theory and Practice

Deliberative Democracy between Theory and Practice

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2015

Abstract: Deliberative democrats seek to link political choices more closely to the deliberations of common citizens, rather than consigning them to speak only in the desiccated language of checks on a ballot. Sober thinkers from Plato to today, however, have argued that if we want to make good decisions we cannot entrust them to the deliberations of common citizens. Critics argue that deliberative democracy is wildly unworkable in practice. Deliberative Democracy between Theory and Practice cuts across this debate by clarifying the structure of a deliberative democratic system, and goes on to re-evaluate the main empirical challenges to deliberative democracy in light of this new frame. It simultaneously reclaims the wider theory of deliberative democracy and meets the empirical critics squarely on terms that advance, rather than evade, the debate. Doing so has important implications for institutional design, the normative theory of democracy, and priorities for future research and practice.

Alexander Wendt

Book cover of Quantum Mind and Social Science

Quantum Mind and Social Science: Unifying Physical and Social Ontology

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2015

Abstract: There is an underlying assumption in the social sciences that consciousness and social life are ultimately classical physical/material phenomena. In this ground-breaking book, Alexander Wendt challenges this assumption by proposing that consciousness is, in fact, a macroscopic quantum mechanical phenomenon. In the first half of the book, Wendt justifies the insertion of quantum theory into social scientific debates, introduces social scientists to quantum theory and the philosophical controversy about its interpretation, and then defends the quantum consciousness hypothesis against the orthodox, classical approach to the mind-body problem. In the second half, he develops the implications of this metaphysical perspective for the nature of language and the agent-structure problem in social ontology. Wendt's argument is a revolutionary development which raises fundamental questions about the nature of social life and the work of those who study it. -Cambridge University Press Review

Sara Watson

Book cover of The Left Divided

The Left Divided: The Development and Transformation of Advanced Welfare States
Published by Oxford University Press, 2015

Abstract: Why do some countries construct strong systems of social protection, while others leave workers exposed to market forces? Among the most robust findings of the comparative political economy literature is the claim that the more political resources controlled by the left, the more likely a country is to have a generous, universal system of social protection.  In contrast, The Left Divided argues that the strength and position taken by the far left is an important and overlooked determinant of social protection outcomes.  The book presents a framework for distinguishing between different types of left movements, and analyzes how the distribution of resources within the left shapes party strategies for expanding social protection in theoretically unanticipated ways.   To demonstrate the counterintuitive effects of having the far-left control significant political resources, Watson combines in-depth case studies of Iberia with cross-national analysis of OECD countries and qualitative comparative analyses of other divided lefts.

Richard Gunther, Paul A. Beck, Pedro C. Magalhães, and Alejandro Moreno

Book cover of Voting in Old and New Democracies

Voting in Old and New Democracies

Published by Routledge, 2016

Abstract: Unlike most studies that focus their attention on established democracies or countries exclusively within one world region, this book presents a rigorous and innovative analysis of voting in elections in both old and new democracies in 18 countries on five continents between 1992 and 2007. Including new factors that have been neglected in previous studies of electoral politics, such as sociopolitical values and the influence of media, personal discussion, and organizational intermediaries, this book goes beyond voting to examine reactions to elections and their role in democratic politics.

Randall L. Schweller

Book cover of Maxwell's Demon and the Golden Apple

Maxwell's Demon and the Golden Apple: Global Discord in the New Millennium

Published by Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014

Abstract: Just what exactly will follow the American century? This is the question Randall L. Schweller explores in his provocative assessment of international politics in the twenty-first century. Schweller considers the future of world politics, correlating our reliance on technology and our multitasking, distracted, disorganized lives with a fragmenting world order. He combines the Greek myth of the Golden Apple of Discord, which explains the start of the Trojan War, with a look at the second law of thermodynamics, or entropy. "In the coming age,” Schweller writes, “disorder will reign supreme as the world succumbs to entropy, an irreversible process of disorganization that governs the direction of all physical changes taking place in the universe.” Interweaving his theory of global disorder with issues on the world stage—coupled with a disquisition on board games and the cell phone app Angry Birds—Schweller’s thesis yields astonishing insights. Maxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple will appeal to leaders of multinational corporations and government programs as well as instructors of undergraduate courses in international relations. "Schweller is one of the brightest international relations scholars of his generation, and his insights are genuinely controversial. Maxwell’s Demon and the Golden Apple is a must-read text."—Daniel Drezner, Tufts University, author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies

Jennifer Mitzen

Book cover of POWER IN CONCERT

POWER IN CONCERT: The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Global Governance

Published by University of Chicago Press, 2013

Abstract: How states cooperate in the absence of a sovereign power is a perennial question in international relations. With Power in Concert, Jennifer Mitzen argues that global governance is more than just the cooperation of states under anarchy: it is the formation and maintenance of collective intentions, or joint commitments among states to address problems together. The key mechanism through which these intentions are sustained is face-to-face diplomacy, which keeps states’ obligations to one another salient and helps them solve problems on a day-to-day basis. Mitzen argues that the origins of this practice lie in the Concert of Europe, an informal agreement among five European states in the wake of the Napoleonic wars to reduce the possibility of recurrence.  The Concert first institutionalized the practice of states jointly managing the balance of power, and Mitzen shows that the words and actions of state leaders in public forums contributed to collective self-restraint and a shared commitment to problem-solving – and at a time when communication was considerably more difficult than it is today.  Despite the Concert’s eventual breakdown, the practice it introduced – of face-to-face diplomacy as a mode of joint problem-solving – survived and is the basis of global governance today.

Bear F. Braumoeller

Book cover of The Great Powers and the International System

The Great Powers and the International System

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2012

Abstract: Do great leaders make history? Or are they compelled to act by historical circumstance? This debate has remained unresolved since Thomas Carlyle and Karl Marx framed it in the mid-nineteenth century, yet implicit answers inform our policies and our views of history. In this book, Professor Bear F. Braumoeller argues persuasively that both perspectives are correct: leaders shape the main material and ideological forces of history that subsequently constrain and compel them. His studies of the Congress of Vienna, the interwar period, and the end of the Cold War illustrate this dynamic, and the data he marshals provide systematic evidence that leaders both shape and are constrained by the structure of the international system.

Eric MacGilvray

Book cover of The Invention of Market Freedom

The Invention of Market Freedom

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2012

Abstract: How did the value of freedom become so closely associated with the institution of the market? Why did the idea of market freedom hold so little appeal before the modern period, and how can we explain its rise to dominance? In The Invention of Market Freedom, Eric MacGilvray addresses these questions by contrasting the market conception of freedom with the republican view that it displaced. After analyzing the ethical core and exploring the conceptual complexity of republican freedom, MacGilvray shows how this way of thinking was confronted with, altered in response to, and finally overcome by the rise of modern market societies. By learning to see market freedom as something that was invented, we can become more alert to the ways in which the appeal to freedom shapes and distorts our thinking about politics today.

Anthony Mughan and Robert Hislope

Book cover of Introduction to Comparative Politics

Introduction to Comparative Politics: The State and its Challenges

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2012

Abstract: This stimulating and accessible introduction to comparative politics offers a fresh perspective on the fundamentals of political science. Its central theme is the enduring political significance of the modern state despite severe challenges to its sovereignty. There are three main sections to the book. The first traces the origins and meaning of the state and proceeds to explore its relationship to the practice of politics. The second examines how states are governed and compares patterns of governance found in the two major regime types in the world today, democracy and authoritarianism. The last section discusses several contemporary challenges - globalization, ethnic nationalism, terrorism, and organized crime - to state sovereignty. Designed to appeal to students and professors alike, this lively text engages readers as it traces states' struggles against the mutually reinforcing pressures of global economic and political interdependence, fragmented identities and secessionism, transnational criminal networks, and terrorism.

Vladimir Koagn, Steven Erie, and Scott MacKenzie

Book cover of Paradise Plundered

Paradise Plundered: Fiscal Crisis and Governance Crisis in San Diego

Published by Stanford University Press, 2011

Abstract: The early 21st century has not been kind to California's reputation for good government. But the Golden State's governance flaws reflect worrisome national trends with origins in the 1970s and 1980s. Growing voter distrust with government, a demand for services but not taxes to pay for them, a sharp decline in enlightened leadership and effective civic watchdogs, and dysfunctional political institutions have all contributed to the current governance malaise. Until recently, San Diego, California—America's 8th largest city—seemed immune to such systematic governance disorders. This sunny beach town entered the 1990s proclaiming to be "America's Finest City," but in a few short years its reputation went from "Futureville" to "Enron-by-the-Sea." In this eye-opening and telling narrative, Steven P. Erie, Vladimir Kogan, and Scott A. MacKenzie mix policy analysis, political theory, and history to explore and explain the unintended but largely predictable failures of governance in San Diego. Using untapped primary sources—interviews with key decision makers and public documents—and benchmarking San Diego with other leading California cities, Paradise Plundered examines critical dimensions of San Diego's governance failure: a multi-billion dollar pension deficit; a chronic budget deficit; inadequate city services and infrastructure; grandiose planning initiatives divorced from dire fiscal realities; an insulated downtown redevelopment program plagued by poorly-crafted public-private partnerships; and, for the metropolitan region, inadequate airport and port facilities, a severe underinvestment in firefighting capacity despite destructive wildfires, and heightened Mexican border security concerns. Far from a sunny story of paradise and prosperity, this account takes stock of an important but understudied city, its failed civic leadership, and poorly performing institutions, policy making, and planning. Though the extent of these failures may place San Diego in a league of its own, other cities are experiencing similar challenges and political changes. As such, this tale of civic woe offers valuable lessons for urban scholars, practitioners, and general readers concerned about the future of their own cities.

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart

Book cover of Terrorism, Security, and Money

Terrorism, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security

Published by Oxford University Press, 2011

Abstract: In seeking to evaluate the efficacy of post-9/11 homeland security expenses--which have risen by more than a trillion dollars, not including war costs--the common query has been, "Are we safer?" This, however, is the wrong question. Of course we are "safer"--the posting of a single security guard at one building's entrance enhances safety. The correct question is, "Are any gains in security worth the funds expended?"

In this engaging, readable book, John Mueller and Mark Stewart apply risk and cost-benefit evaluation techniques to answer this very question. This analytical approach has been used throughout the world for decades by regulators, academics, and businesses--but, as a recent National Academy of Science study suggests, it has never been capably applied by the people administering homeland security funds. Given the limited risk terrorism presents, expenses meant to lower it have for the most part simply not been worth it. For example, to be considered cost-effective, increased American homeland security expenditures would have had each year to have foiled up to 1,667 attacks roughly like the one intended on Times Square in 2010--more than four a day. Cataloging the mistakes that the US has made--and continues to make--in managing homeland security programs, Terror, Security, and Money has the potential to redirect our efforts toward a more productive and far more cost-effective course.

Sarah Brooks

Book cover of Social Protection and the Market in Latin America

Social Protection and the Market in Latin America: The Transformation of Social Security Institutions

Published by Cambridge University Press, 2009

Abstract: Social security institutions have been among the most stable post-war social programs around the world. Increasingly, however, these institutions have undergone profound transformation from public risk-pooling systems to individual market-based designs. Why has this 'privatization' occurred? Why, moreover, do some governments enact more radical pension privatizations than others? This book provides a theoretical and empirical account of when and to what degree governments privatize national old-age pension systems. Quantitative cross-national analysis simulates the degree of pension privatization around the world and tests competing hypotheses to explain reform outcomes. In addition, comparative analysis of pension reforms in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay evaluate a causal theory of institutional change. The central argument is that pension privatization emerges from political conflict, rather than from exogenous pressures. The argument is developed around three dimensions: the double bind of globalization, contingent path-dependent processes, and the legislative politics of loss imposition.