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Civil Action and the Dynamics of Violence - Paperback - Deborah Avant; Marie Berry; Erica Chenoweth; Rachel Epstein; Cullen Hendrix; Oliver Kaplan; Timothy Sisk - Oxford University Press
Many view civil wars as violent contests between armed combatants. But history shows that community groups, businesses, NGOs, local governments, and even armed groups can respond to war by engaging in civil action. Characterized by a reluctance to resort to violence and a willingness to show enough respect to engage with others, civil action can slow, delay, or prevent violent escalations. This volume explores how people in conflict environments engage in civil action, and the ways such action has affected violence dynamics in Syria, Peru, Kenya, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Spain, and Colombia. These cases highlight the critical and often neglected role that civil action plays in conflicts around the world.
book  collective_action  political_science  violence  social_movements 
6 days ago by rvenkat
The physics of dissent and the effects of movement momentum | Nature Human Behaviour
How do ‘people power’ movements succeed when modest proportions of the population participate? Here we propose that the effects of social movements increase as they gain momentum. We approximate a simple law drawn from physics: momentum equals mass times velocity (p = mv). We propose that the momentum of dissent is a product of participation (mass) and the number of protest events in a week (velocity). We test this simple physical proposition against panel data on the potential effects of movement momentum on irregular leader exit in African countries between 1990 and 2014, using a variety of estimation techniques. Our findings show that social movements potentially compensate for relatively modest popular support by concentrating their activities in time, thus increasing their disruptive capacity. Notably, these findings also provide a straightforward way for dissidents to easily quantify their coercive potential by assessing their participation rates and increased concentration of their activities over time.

-- While Chenoweth's other works make sense, this one seems a bit weak...maybe Tufeckci might have something interesting to say about this paper.
social_movements  collective_action  political_science  civil_disobidience  via:?  i_remain_skeptical 
august 2019 by rvenkat
[1907.01927] Being a leader or being the leader: The evolution of institutionalised hierarchy
"Human social hierarchy has the unique characteristic of existing in two forms. Firstly, as an informal hierarchy where leaders and followers are implicitly defined by their personal characteristics, and secondly, as an institutional hierarchy where leaders and followers are explicitly appointed by group decision. Although both forms can reduce the time spent in organising collective tasks, institutional hierarchy imposes additional costs. It is therefore natural to question why it emerges at all. The key difference lies in the fact that institutions can create hierarchy with only a single leader, which is unlikely to occur in unregulated informal hierarchy. To investigate if this difference can affect group decision-making and explain the evolution of institutional hierarchy, we first build an opinion-formation model that simulates group decision making. We show that in comparison to informal hierarchy, a single-leader hierarchy reduces (i) the time a group spends to reach consensus, (ii) the variation in consensus time, and (iii) the rate of increase in consensus time as group size increases. We then use this model to simulate the cost of organising a collective action which produces resources, and integrate this into an evolutionary model where individuals can choose between informal or institutional hierarchy. Our results demonstrate that groups evolve preferences towards institutional hierarchy, despite the cost of creating an institution, as it provides a greater organisational advantage which is less affected by group size and inequality."

--- The iron law of oligarchy?
to:NB  collective_cognition  collective_action  re:democratic_cognition 
july 2019 by cshalizi
Why further financial crises are inevitable
March 19, 2019 | Financial Times | Martin Wolf.

We learnt this month that the US Fed had decided not to raise the countercyclical capital buffer required of banks above its current level of zero, even though the US economy is at a cyclical peak. It also removed “qualitative” grades from its stress tests for American banks, though not for foreign ones. Finally, the Financial Stability Oversight Council, led by Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury secretary, removed the last insurer from its list of “too big to fail” institutions.

These decisions may not endanger the stability of the financial system. But they show that financial regulation is procyclical: it is loosened when it should be tightened and tightened when it should be loosened. We do, in fact, learn from history — and then we forget.....Regulation of banks has tightened since the financial crises of 2007-12. Capital and liquidity requirements are stricter, the “stress test” regime is quite demanding, and efforts have been made to end “too big to fail” by developing the idea of orderly “resolution” of large and complex financial institutions.....Yet complacency is unjustified. Banks remain highly leveraged institutions.....history demonstrates the procyclicality of regulation. Again and again, regulation is relaxed during a boom: indeed, the deregulation often fuels that boom. Then, when the damage has been done and disillusionment sets in, it is tightened again........We can see four reasons why this tends to happen: economic, ideological, political and merely human.

* Economic
Over time the financial system evolves. There is a tendency for risk to migrate out of the best regulated parts of the system to less well regulated parts. Even if regulators have the power and will to keep up, the financial innovation that so often accompanies this makes it hard to do so. The global financial system is complex and adaptable. It is also run by highly motivated people. It is hard for regulators to catch up with the evolution of what we now call “shadow banking”.

* Ideological
the tendency to view this complex system through a simplistic lens. The more powerful the ideology of free markets, the more the authority and power of regulators will tend to erode. Naturally, public confidence in this ideology tends to be strong in booms and weak in busts.

* Political

the financial system controls vast resources and can exert huge influence. In the 2018 US electoral cycle, finance, insurance and real estate (three intertwined sectors) were the largest contributors, covering one-seventh of the total cost. This is a superb example of Mancur Olson’s Logic of Collective Action: concentrated interests override the general one. This is much less true in times of crisis, when the public is enraged and wants to punish bankers. But it is true, again, in normal times.

Borderline or even blatant corruption also emerges: politicians may even demand a share in the wealth created in booms. Since politicians ultimately control regulators, the consequences for the latter, even if they are honest and diligent, are evident.

A significant aspect of the politics is closely linked to regulatory arbitrage: international competition. One jurisdiction tries to attract financial business via “light-touch” regulation; others then follow. This is frequently because their own financiers and financial centres complain bitterly. It is hard to resist the argument that foreigners are cheating.

* Human
There is a human tendency to dismiss long-ago events as irrelevant, to believe This Time is Different and ignore what is not under one’s nose. Much of this can be summarised as “disaster myopia”. The public gives irresponsible policymakers the benefit of the doubt and enjoys the boom. Over time, regulation degrades, as the forces against it strengthen and those in its favour corrode.

The cumulative effect of these efforts is quite clear: regulations erode and that erosion will be exported. This has happened before and will do so again. This time, too, is not different.
boom-to-bust  bubbles  collective_action  complacency  corruption  disaster_myopia  entrenched_interests  economic_downturn  financiers  financial_crises  financial_regulation  financial_system  historical_amnesia  Mancur_Olson  Martin_Wolf  policymakers  politicians  politics  procyclicality  regulatory_arbitrage  regulation  regulators  stress-tests  This_Time_is_Different  U.S._Federal_Reserve 
march 2019 by jerryking
Uninformed - Hardcover - Arthur Lupia - Oxford University Press
Research polls, media interviews, and everyday conversations reveal an unsettling truth: citizens, while well-meaning and even passionate about current affairs, appear to know very little about politics. Hundreds of surveys document vast numbers of citizens answering even basic questions about government incorrectly. Given this unfortunate state of affairs, it is not surprising that more knowledgeable people often deride the public for its ignorance. Some experts even think that less informed citizens should stay out of politics altogether.

As Arthur Lupia shows in Uninformed, this is not constructive. At root, critics of public ignorance fundamentally misunderstand the problem. Many experts believe that simply providing people with more facts will make them more competent voters. However, these experts fail to understand how most people learn, and hence don't really know what types of information are even relevant to voters. Feeding them information they don't find relevant does not address the problem. In other words, before educating the public, we need to educate the educators.

Lupia offers not just a critique, though; he also has solutions. Drawing from a variety of areas of research on topics like attention span and political psychology, he shows how we can actually increase issue competence among voters in areas ranging from gun regulation to climate change. To attack the problem, he develops an arsenal of techniques to effectively convey to people information they actually care about.

Citizens sometimes lack the knowledge that they need to make competent political choices, and it is undeniable that greater knowledge can improve decision making. But we need to understand that voters either don't care about or pay attention to much of the information that experts think is important. Uninformed provides the keys to improving political knowledge and civic competence: understanding what information is important to and knowing how to best convey it to them.

-- based on the description, the overly optimistic conclusion that one could engineer interventions to improve *decision making* is a bit too much for me. *Some* political scientists seem to consider the author's work important. Also, his enthusiasm for open science based research is much appreciated. But I am literally judging his book by the cover!
book  political_science  political_psychology  collective_action  intervention  public_sphere  democracy 
february 2019 by rvenkat
Group Agency - Hardcover - Christian List; Philip Pettit - Oxford University Press
Are companies, churches, and states genuine agents? Or are they just collections of individual agents that give a misleading impression of unity? This question is important, since the answer dictates how we should go about explaining the behaviour of these entities and whether we should treat them as responsible and accountable in the manner of individuals. Group Agency offers a new approach to that question and is relevant, therefore, in a range of fields from philosophy to law, politics, and the social sciences. Christian List and Philip Pettit take the line that there really are group or corporate agents, over and above the individual agents who compose them, and that a proper social science and a proper approach to law, morality, and politics have to take account of this fact. Unlike some earlier defences of group agency, their account is entirely unmysterious in character and, despite not being technically difficult, is grounded in cutting-edge work in social choice theory, economics, and philosophy.
book  agency  collective_action  democracy  institutions 
february 2019 by rvenkat
Collective decision making by rational individuals | PNAS
"The patterns and mechanisms of collective decision making in humans and animals have attracted both empirical and theoretical attention. Of particular interest has been the variety of social feedback rules and the extent to which these behavioral rules can be explained and predicted from theories of rational estimation and decision making. However, models that aim to model the full range of social information use have incorporated ad hoc departures from rational decision-making theory to explain the apparent stochasticity and variability of behavior. In this paper I develop a model of social information use and collective decision making by fully rational agents that reveals how a wide range of apparently stochastic social decision rules emerge from fundamental information asymmetries both between individuals and between the decision makers and the observer of those decisions. As well as showing that rational decision making is consistent with empirical observations of collective behavior, this model makes several testable predictions about how individuals make decisions in groups and offers a valuable perspective on how we view sources of variability in animal, and human, behavior."
in_NB  collective_cognition  collective_action  decision_theory  re:democratic_cognition 
october 2018 by cshalizi
A Test of Dominant Assurance Contracts - Marginal REVOLUTION
The free rider problem is a challenge to the market provision of public goods. In my paper on dominant assurance contracts I use game theory to show how some public goods can be produced by markets using a special contract. In an assurance contract people pledge to fund a public good if and only if […]
collective_action  economics  data_strike  Everything 
june 2018 by jpowerj
How Social Media Facilitates Political Protest: Information, Motivation, and Social Networks - Jost - 2018 - Political Psychology - Wiley Online Library
It is often claimed that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are profoundly shaping political participation, especially when it comes to protest behavior. Whether or not this is the case, the analysis of “Big Data” generated by social media usage offers unprecedented opportunities to observe complex, dynamic effects associated with large-scale collective action and social movements. In this article, we summarize evidence from studies of protest movements in the United States, Spain, Turkey, and Ukraine demonstrating that: (1) Social media platforms facilitate the exchange of information that is vital to the coordination of protest activities, such as news about transportation, turnout, police presence, violence, medical services, and legal support; (2) in addition, social media platforms facilitate the exchange of emotional and motivational contents in support of and opposition to protest activity, including messages emphasizing anger, social identification, group efficacy, and concerns about fairness, justice, and deprivation as well as explicitly ideological themes; and (3) structural characteristics of online social networks, which may differ as a function of political ideology, have important implications for information exposure and the success or failure of organizational efforts. Next, we issue a brief call for future research on a topic that is understudied but fundamental to appreciating the role of social media in facilitating political participation, namely friendship. In closing, we liken the situation confronted by researchers who are harvesting vast quantities of social media data to that of systems biologists in the early days of genome sequencing.
social_media  social_networks  collective_action  democracy  via:henryfarrell 
february 2018 by rvenkat
Social Mobilization | Annual Review of Psychology

This article reviews research from several behavioral disciplines to derive strategies for prompting people to perform behaviors that are individually costly and provide negligible individual or social benefits but are meaningful when performed by a large number of individuals. Whereas the term social influence encompasses all the ways in which people influence other people, social mobilization refers specifically to principles that can be used to influence a large number of individuals to participate in such activities. The motivational force of social mobilization is amplified by the fact that others benefit from the encouraged behaviors, and its overall impact is enhanced by the fact that people are embedded within social networks. This article may be useful to those interested in the provision of public goods, collective action, and prosocial behavior, and we give special attention to field experiments on election participation, environmentally sustainable behaviors, and charitable giving.
collective_action  political_economy  public_goods  social_behavior  intervention  review  social_networks  networks  dmce  teaching  via:nyhan 
february 2018 by rvenkat
Political Structures and Political Mores: Varieties of Politics in Comparative Perspective | Sociological Science
We offer an integrated study of political participation, bridging the gap between the literatures on civic engagement and social movements. Historically evolved institutions and culture generate different configurations of the political domain, shaping the meaning and forms of political activity in different societies. The structuration of the polity along the dimensions of “stateness” and “corporateness” accounts for cross-national differences in the way individuals make sense of and engage in the political sphere. Forms of political participation that are usually treated as istinct are actually interlinked and co-vary across national configurations. In societies where interests are represented in a formalized manner through corporatist arrangements, political participation revolves primarily around membership in pre-established groups and concerted negotiation, rather than extra-institutional types of action. By contrast, in “statist” societies the centralization and concentration of sovereignty in the state makes it the focal point of claim-making, driving social actors to engage in “public” activities and marginalizing private and, especially, market-based political forms. We test these and other hypotheses using cross-national data on political participation from the World Values Survey.
political_science  institutions  protests  revolutions  social_movements  collective_action  comparative  civic_engagement  civil_disobidience  political_sociology 
february 2018 by rvenkat
Do Political Protests Matter? Evidence from the Tea Party Movement* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
Can protests cause political change, or are they merely symptoms of underlying shifts in policy preferences? We address this question by studying the Tea Party movement in the United States, which rose to prominence through coordinated rallies across the country on Tax Day, April 15, 2009. We exploit variation in rainfall on the day of these rallies as an exogenous source of variation in attendance. We show that good weather at this initial, coordinating event had significant consequences for the subsequent local strength of the movement, increased public support for Tea Party positions, and led to more Republican votes in the 2010 midterm elections. Policy making was also affected, as incumbents responded to large protests in their district by voting more conservatively in Congress. Our estimates suggest significant multiplier effects: an additional protester increased the number of Republican votes by a factor well above 1. Together our results show that protests can build political movements that ultimately affect policy making and that they do so by influencing political views rather than solely through the revelation of existing political preferences
protests  collective_action  political_science  social_movements  us_politics 
january 2018 by rvenkat

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