rvenkat + institutions   96

Do the Poor Pay More for Housing? Exploitation, Profit, and Risk in Rental Markets | American Journal of Sociology: Vol 124, No 4
This article examines tenant exploitation and landlord profit margins within residential rental markets. Defining exploitation as being overcharged relative to the market value of a property, the authors find exploitation of tenants to be highest in poor neighborhoods. Landlords in poor neighborhoods also extract higher profits from housing units. Property values and tax burdens are considerably lower in depressed residential areas, but rents are not. Because landlords operating in poor communities face more risks, they hedge their position by raising rents on all tenants, carrying the weight of social structure into price. Since losses are rare, landlords typically realize the surplus risk charge as higher profits. Promoting a relational approach to the analysis of inequality, this study demonstrates how the market strategies of landlords contribute to high rent burdens in low-income neighborhoods.
poverty  inequality  market_failures  sociology  economic_sociology  institutions 
march 2019 by rvenkat
Billionaires and Stealth Politics, Page, Seawright, Lacombe
In 2016, when millions of Americans voted for Donald Trump, many believed his claims that personal wealth would free him from wealthy donors and allow him to “drain the swamp.” But then Trump appointed several billionaires and multimillionaires to high-level positions and pursued billionaire-friendly policies, such as cutting corporate income taxes. Why the change from his fiery campaign rhetoric and promises to the working class? This should not be surprising, argue Benjamin I. Page, Jason Seawright, and Matthew J. Lacombe: As the gap between the wealthiest and the rest of us has widened, the few who hold one billion dollars or more in net worth have begun to play a more and more active part in politics—with serious consequences for democracy in the United States.

Page, Seawright, and Lacombe argue that while political contributions offer a window onto billionaires’ influence, especially on economic policy, they do not present a full picture of policy preferences and political actions. That is because on some of the most important issues, including taxation, immigration, and Social Security, billionaires have chosen to engage in “stealth politics.” They try hard to influence public policy, making large contributions to political parties and policy-focused causes, leading policy-advocacy organizations, holding political fundraisers, and bundling others’ contributions—all while rarely talking about public policy to the media. This means that their influence is not only unequal but also largely unaccountable to and unchallengeable by the American people. Stealth politics makes it difficult for ordinary citizens to know what billionaires are doing or mobilize against it. The book closes with remedies citizens can pursue if they wish to make wealthy Americans more politically accountable, such as public financing of political campaigns and easier voting procedures, and notes the broader types of reforms, such as a more progressive income tax system, that would be needed to increase political equality and reinvigorate majoritarian democracy in the United States.
book  corruption  political_economy  inequality  institutions  political_science  forecasting 
march 2019 by rvenkat
A billion-dollar empire made of mobile homes - The Washington Post
--Interesting though not surprising reappearance of feudal structures.
Are there economic and political theories answering the *how* and *why* questions?
privatization  capitalism  market_failures  economic_geography  inequality  institutions  democracy  WaPo 
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
Democracy Does Cause Growth | Journal of Political Economy: Vol 127, No 1
We provide evidence that democracy has a positive effect on GDP per capita. Our dynamic panel strategy controls for country fixed effects and the rich dynamics of GDP, which otherwise confound the effect of democracy. To reduce measurement error, we introduce a new indicator of democracy that consolidates previous measures. Our baseline results show that democratizations increase GDP per capita by about 20 percent in the long run. We find similar effects using a propensity score reweighting strategy as well as an instrumental-variables strategy using regional waves of democratization. The effects are similar across different levels of development and appear to be driven by greater investments in capital, schooling, and health.
democracy  institutions  macroeconomics  political_economy  causal_inference  the_civilizing_process  suresh.naidu 
february 2019 by rvenkat
The Violence Trap: A Political-Economic Approach to the Problems of Development by Gary W. Cox, Douglass C. North, Barry R. Weingast :: SSRN
Why do developing countries fail to adopt the institutions and policies that promote development? Our answer is the violence trap. Key political reforms — opening access and reducing rents — are typically feasible only when the domestic economy reaches a given level of complexity (for reasons we specify); yet complex economies typically can emerge only when key political reforms are already in place (for standard reasons). The interdependence of political reform and economic complexity entails violence because, as we show, unreformed polities lack adaptive efficiency. The literature sparked by Lipset’s modernization thesis has operationalized “economic development” as a higher GDP per capita. Building on Steuart, we view development as creating a more complex economy whose workings will be more seriously disrupted by political violence. Empirically, we show that economic complexity (as measured by the Hidalgo-Hausmann index) strongly deters coups, even controlling for GDP per capita and level of democracy.
book  political_economy  economic_history  institutions  social_structure  world_trends 
december 2018 by rvenkat
Violence and Social Orders
All societies must deal with the possibility of violence, and they do so in different ways. This book integrates the problem of violence into a larger social science and historical framework, showing how economic and political behavior are closely linked. Most societies, which we call natural states, limit violence by political manipulation of the economy to create privileged interests. These privileges limit the use of violence by powerful individuals, but doing so hinders both economic and political development. In contrast, modern societies create open access to economic and political organizations, fostering political and economic competition. The book provides a framework for understanding the two types of social orders, why open access societies are both politically and economically more developed, and how some 25 countries have made the transition between the two types.
book  political_economy  economic_history  institutions  social_structure  world_trends 
december 2018 by rvenkat
Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find?
In many growth models, economic growth arises from people creating ideas, and the long-run growth rate is the product of two terms: the effective number of researchers and their research productivity. We present a wide range of evidence from various industries, products, and firms showing that research effort is rising substantially while research productivity is declining sharply. A good example is Moore's Law. The number of researchers required today to achieve the famous doubling every two years of the density of computer chips is more than 18 times larger than the number required in the early 1970s. Across a broad range of case studies at various levels of (dis)aggregation, we find that ideas — and in particular the exponential growth they imply — are getting harder and harder to find. Exponential growth results from the large increases in research effort that offset its declining productivity.

h\t http://slatestarcodex.com/2018/11/26/is-science-slowing-down-2/
science_of_science  science_as_a_social_process  economics  institutions  collective_intention 
december 2018 by rvenkat
The Institutional Turn in Comparative Authoritarianism | British Journal of Political Science | Cambridge Core
The institutional turn in comparative authoritarianism has generated wide interest. This article reviews three prominent books on authoritarian institutions and their central theoretical propositions about the origins, functions and effects of dominant party institutions on authoritarian rule. Two critical perspectives on political institutions, one based on rationalist theories of institutional design and the other based on a social conflict theory of political economy, suggest that authoritarian institutions are epiphenomenal on more fundamental political, social and/or economic relations. Such approaches have been largely ignored in this recent literature, but each calls into question the theoretical and empirical claims that form the basis of institutionalist approaches to authoritarian rule. A central implication of this article is that authoritarian institutions cannot be studied separately from the concrete problems of redistribution and policy making that motivate regime behavior.
comparative  political_science  authoritarianism  institutions  review  via:henryfarrell 
november 2018 by rvenkat
Kavanaugh is lying. His upbringing explains why. - The Washington Post
--Surely, as the chair of sociology at Columbia, the author could have crafted a better article instead of virtue signaling and pandering to the *good* people.
distrust_of_elites  institutions  sociology  misguided  WaPo 
september 2018 by rvenkat
Open Science by Design: Realizing a Vision for 21st Century Research | The National Academies Press
Openness and sharing of information are fundamental to the progress of science and to the effective functioning of the research enterprise. The advent of scientific journals in the 17th century helped power the Scientific Revolution by allowing researchers to communicate across time and space, using the technologies of that era to generate reliable knowledge more quickly and efficiently. Harnessing today’s stunning, ongoing advances in information technologies, the global research enterprise and its stakeholders are moving toward a new open science ecosystem. Open science aims to ensure the free availability and usability of scholarly publications, the data that result from scholarly research, and the methodologies, including code or algorithms, that were used to generate those data.

Open Science by Design is aimed at overcoming barriers and moving toward open science as the default approach across the research enterprise. This report explores specific examples of open science and discusses a range of challenges, focusing on stakeholder perspectives. It is meant to provide guidance to the research enterprise and its stakeholders as they build strategies for achieving open science and take the next steps.
nap  report  science_as_a_social_process  public_policy  institutions  sociology_of_science 
august 2018 by rvenkat
Padgett, J. and Powell, W.: The Emergence of Organizations and Markets (Hardcover, Paperback and eBook) | Princeton University Press
The social sciences have sophisticated models of choice and equilibrium but little understanding of the emergence of novelty. Where do new alternatives, new organizational forms, and new types of people come from? Combining biochemical insights about the origin of life with innovative and historically oriented social network analyses, John Padgett and Walter Powell develop a theory about the emergence of organizational, market, and biographical novelty from the coevolution of multiple social networks. They demonstrate that novelty arises from spillovers across intertwined networks in different domains. In the short run actors make relations, but in the long run relations make actors.

This theory of novelty emerging from intersecting production and biographical flows is developed through formal deductive modeling and through a wide range of original historical case studies. Padgett and Powell build on the biochemical concept of autocatalysis--the chemical definition of life--and then extend this autocatalytic reasoning to social processes of production and communication. Padgett and Powell, along with other colleagues, analyze a very wide range of cases of emergence. They look at the emergence of organizational novelty in early capitalism and state formation; they examine the transformation of communism; and they analyze with detailed network data contemporary science-based capitalism: the biotechnology industry, regional high-tech clusters, and the open source community.

review here

-- auto-catalytic sets, principles of self organization,...? Comments withheld till I read the book. Haven't General systems theorists tried all this before?
book  self_organization  institutions  complexity  market_design  for_friends 
june 2018 by rvenkat
Peer review: the end of an error?
--Timothy Gowers call for an alternative system built on the foundations of arxiv culture.
sociology_of_science  scientific_publishing_complex  critique  institutions  norms  democracy 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Spectrum of Trust in Data || Data & Society
-- Interesting, people(here parents) don't trust institutions but rely of peer networks to search for knowledge and information. It is not clear whether the people have an implicit awareness of a peer reputation score through which they are able to delineate the reliable from the unreliable. I notice a similar reliance on Stack Exchange, podcasts and blogposts among my peers.
distrust_of_elites  institutions  social_epistemology  education  agnotology  media_studies  inequality  via:boyd  dmce  teaching 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Isomorphism through algorithms: Institutional dependencies in the case of Facebook - Robyn Caplan, danah boyd, 2018
Algorithms and data-driven technologies are increasingly being embraced by a variety of different sectors and institutions. This paper examines how algorithms and data-driven technologies, enacted by an organization like Facebook, can induce similarity across an industry. Using theories from organizational sociology and neoinstitutionalism, this paper traces the bureaucratic roots of Big Data and algorithms to examine the institutional dependencies that emerge and are mediated through data-driven and algorithmic logics. This type of analysis sheds light on how organizational contexts are embedded into algorithms, which can then become embedded within other organizational and individual practices. By investigating technical practices as organizational and bureaucratic, discussions about accountability and decision-making can be reframed.
platform_economics  institutions  algorithms  rational_choice  bureaucracy  cybernetics  platform_studies  dana.boyd 
march 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
Ordinalization: Lewis A. Coser Memorial Award for Theoretical Agenda Setting 2014 - Marion Fourcade, 2016
We can think of three basic principles of classificatory judgment for comparing things and people. I call these judgments nominal (oriented to essence), cardinal (oriented to quantities), and ordinal (oriented to relative positions). Most social orders throughout history are organized around the intersection of these different types. In line with the ideals of political liberalism, however, democratic societies have developed an arsenal of institutions to untangle nominal and ordinal judgments in various domains of social life. In doing so, I suggest, they have contributed to the parallel amplification of both. In this article, I specifically discuss the socio-technical channels through which ordinal judgments are now elaborated, a process I call ordinalization. I conclude by exploring the political and economic possibilities of a society in which ordinal processes are ubiquitous.
economic_sociology  inequality  social_theory  institutions  historical_sociology  comparative 
february 2018 by rvenkat
The New Conspiracists | Dissent Magazine
--misleading title, the article is more about use of disinformation, conspiratorial factoids with the dismantling of democratic institutions and administrative state in mind.
dissent_mag  administrative_state  institutions  conspiracy_theories  epidemiology_of_representations  political_psychology  cultural_cognition  dmce  networks  teaching  ? 
january 2018 by rvenkat
Viktor Orban’s oligarchs: a new elite emerges in Hungary
--remarkable similarities to the co-evolution of oligarchy autocracy and right-wing populism world over. It is almost as if we are watching the emergence of potential mechanisms through which liberal democracies devolve and regress into something else. Newer the democracy, easier it seems to be to get these going.
comparative  political_science  european_politics  world_trends  autocracy  right-wing_populism  conservatism  norms  institutions  via:nyhan 
december 2017 by rvenkat
Gentrification and the Criminalization of Neighborhoods - The Atlantic
-- very interesting, the process of gentrification lowers the threshold of what is allowed and hence what is *criminal* and a form of generalized *broken windows* policing amplifies policing intensity which ends up disproportionately affecting minorities and lower socio-economic classes.
economic_geography  cities  poverty  policing  criminal_justice  norms  institutions  sociology  gentrification  the_atlantic 
december 2017 by rvenkat
Acharya, A., Blackwell, M. and Sen, M.: Deep Roots: How Slavery Still Shapes Southern Politics (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
Despite dramatic social transformations in the United States during the last 150 years, the South has remained staunchly conservative. Southerners are more likely to support Republican candidates, gun rights, and the death penalty, and southern whites harbor higher levels of racial resentment than whites in other parts of the country. Why haven't these sentiments evolved or changed? Deep Roots shows that the entrenched political and racial views of contemporary white southerners are a direct consequence of the region's slaveholding history, which continues to shape economic, political, and social spheres. Today, southern whites who live in areas once reliant on slavery—compared to areas that were not—are more racially hostile and less amenable to policies that could promote black progress.

Highlighting the connection between historical institutions and contemporary political attitudes, the authors explore the period following the Civil War when elite whites in former bastions of slavery had political and economic incentives to encourage the development of anti-black laws and practices. Deep Roots shows that these forces created a local political culture steeped in racial prejudice, and that these viewpoints have been passed down over generations, from parents to children and via communities, through a process called behavioral path dependence. While legislation such as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act made huge strides in increasing economic opportunity and reducing educational disparities, southern slavery has had a profound, lasting, and self-reinforcing influence on regional and national politics that can still be felt today.

A groundbreaking look at the ways institutions of the past continue to sway attitudes of the present, Deep Roots demonstrates how social beliefs persist long after the formal policies that created those beliefs have been eradicated.
book  institutions  political_science  political_sociology  slavery  black_history 
december 2017 by rvenkat
[1711.06899] The Cultural Evolution of National Constitutions
We explore how ideas from infectious disease and genetics can be used to uncover patterns of cultural inheritance and innovation in a corpus of 591 national constitutions spanning 1789 - 2008. Legal "Ideas" are encoded as "topics" - words statistically linked in documents - derived from topic modeling the corpus of constitutions. Using these topics we derive a diffusion network for borrowing from ancestral constitutions back to the US Constitution of 1789 and reveal that constitutions are complex cultural recombinants. We find systematic variation in patterns of borrowing from ancestral texts and "biological"-like behavior in patterns of inheritance with the distribution of "offspring" arising through a bounded preferential-attachment process. This process leads to a small number of highly innovative (influential) constitutions some of which have yet to have been identified as so in the current literature. Our findings thus shed new light on the critical nodes of the constitution-making network. The constitutional network structure reflects periods of intense constitution creation, and systematic patterns of variation in constitutional life-span and temporal influence.

-- I don't understand why they insist on the system being _biological patterns of inference_ or discuss networks in what is a standard topic model analysis.
institutions  networks  topic_model  cultural_evolution  digital_humanities  via:strogatz 
november 2017 by rvenkat
Someone ‘Accidentally’ Locked Away $300M Worth of Other People's Ethereum Funds - Motherboard
-- what people refuse to understand is that these decentralized systems still have material constraints and are prone to human errors. A promise of a democratic institution without _elites_ or _authority_ should have a way of guaranteeing reliability and immunity from human errors.
blockchain  cryptocurrency  automation  institutions  algorithms  technology  democracy  ?  motherboard 
november 2017 by rvenkat
Community and the Crime Decline: The Causal Effect of Local Nonprofits on Violent CrimeAmerican Sociological Review - Patrick Sharkey, Gerard Torrats-Espinosa, Delaram Takyar, 2017
Largely overlooked in the theoretical and empirical literature on the crime decline is a long tradition of research in criminology and urban sociology that considers how violence is regulated through informal sources of social control arising from residents and organizations internal to communities. In this article, we incorporate the “systemic” model of community life into debates on the U.S. crime drop, and we focus on the role that local nonprofit organizations played in the national decline of violence from the 1990s to the 2010s. Using longitudinal data and a strategy to account for the endogeneity of nonprofit formation, we estimate the causal effect on violent crime of nonprofits focused on reducing violence and building stronger communities. Drawing on a panel of 264 cities spanning more than 20 years, we estimate that every 10 additional organizations focusing on crime and community life in a city with 100,000 residents leads to a 9 percent reduction in the murder rate, a 6 percent reduction in the violent crime rate, and a 4 percent reduction in the property crime rate.

a forthcoming book based on this work

and a dilute version here
crime  longitudinal-study  causal_inference  sociology  non-profit  institutions  social_movements  cities  models_of_behavior  book 
november 2017 by rvenkat
One Bitcoin Transaction Now Uses as Much Energy as Your House in a Week - Motherboard
-- could it be framed as a limitation of democracies? without trust in institutional norms, social (ecnomical) exchanges can get really difficult.
-- could we apply such transaction cost arguments to understand the constraints and limitations of leaderless social movements?

blockchain  cryptocurrency  economics  norms  institutions  carbon_footprint  environment  material_basis_of_civilization  technology  computational_complexity  motherboard  distributed_computing 
november 2017 by rvenkat
Researcher Bias and Influence: How Do Different Sources of Policy Analysis Affect Policy Preferences? by Grant Jacobsen :: SSRN
Analyses of policy options are often unavailable or only available from think tanks that may have political biases. This paper experimentally examines how voters respond to policy analysis and how the response differs when a nonpartisan, liberal, or conservative organization produces the analysis. Partisan organizations are effective at influencing individuals that share their ideology, but individuals collectively are most responsive to analysis produced by nonpartisan organizations. This pattern holds consistently across several areas of policy. The results suggest that increasing the availability of nonpartisan analysis would increase the diffusion of information into the public and reduce political polarization.
elite_opinion  public_opinion  contagion  think_tank  institutions  social_epistemology  cultural_cognition  political_psychology  polarization  democracy  via:nyhan 
october 2017 by rvenkat
Now out of Never: The Element of Surprise in the East European Revolution of 1989 | World Politics | Cambridge Core
Like many major revolutions in history, the East European Revolution of 1989 caught its leaders, participants, victims, and observers by surprise. This paper offers an explanation whose crucial feature is a distinction between private and public preferences. By suppressing their antipathies to the political status quo, the East Europeans misled everyone, including themselves, as to the possibility of a successful uprising. In effect, they conferred on their privately despised governments an aura of invincibility. Under the circumstances, public opposition was poised to grow explosively if ever enough people lost their fear of exposing their private preferences. The currently popular theories of revolution do not make clear why uprisings easily explained in retrospect may not have been anticipated. The theory developed here fills this void. Among its predictions is that political revolutions will inevitably continue to catch the world by surprise.
european_politics  revolutions  20th_century  social_behavior  contagion  homophily  ?  social_psychology  institutions  norms  collective_dynamics  judgment_decision-making  dmce  teaching  timur.kuran 
october 2017 by rvenkat
Private Truths, Public Lies — Timur Kuran | Harvard University Press
Preference falsification, according to the economist Timur Kuran, is the act of misrepresenting one’s wants under perceived social pressures. It happens frequently in everyday life, such as when we tell the host of a dinner party that we are enjoying the food when we actually find it bland. In Private Truths, Public Lies, Kuran argues convincingly that the phenomenon not only is ubiquitous but has huge social and political consequences. Drawing on diverse intellectual traditions, including those rooted in economics, psychology, sociology, and political science, Kuran provides a unified theory of how preference falsification shapes collective decisions, orients structural change, sustains social stability, distorts human knowledge, and conceals political possibilities.

A common effect of preference falsification is the preservation of widely disliked structures. Another is the conferment of an aura of stability on structures vulnerable to sudden collapse. When the support of a policy, tradition, or regime is largely contrived, a minor event may activate a bandwagon that generates massive yet unanticipated change.

In distorting public opinion, preference falsification also corrupts public discourse and, hence, human knowledge. So structures held in place by preference falsification may, if the condition lasts long enough, achieve increasingly genuine acceptance. The book demonstrates how human knowledge and social structures co-evolve in complex and imperfectly predictable ways, without any guarantee of social efficiency.

Private Truths, Public Lies uses its theoretical argument to illuminate an array of puzzling social phenomena. They include the unexpected fall of communism, the paucity, until recently, of open opposition to affirmative action in the United States, and the durability of the beliefs that have sustained India’s caste system
book  social_behavior  contagion  homophily  ?  social_psychology  institutions  norms  collective_dynamics  judgment_decision-making  dmce  teaching  timur.kuran 
october 2017 by rvenkat
Islam and Economic Performance: Historical and Contemporary Links
This essay critically evaluates the analytic literature concerned with causal connections between Islam and economic performance. It focuses on works since 1997, when this literature was last surveyed. Among the findings are the following: Ramadan fasting by pregnant women harms prenatal development; Islamic charities mainly benefit the middle class; Islam affects educational outcomes less through Islamic schooling than through structural factors that handicap learning as a whole; Islamic finance hardly affects Muslim financial behavior; and low generalized trust depresses Muslim trade. The last feature reflects the Muslim world’s delay in transitioning from personal to impersonal exchange.The delay resulted from the persistent simplicity of the private enterprises formed under Islamic law. Weak property rights reinforced the private sector’s stagnation by driving capital out of commerce and into rigid waqfs. Waqfs limited economic development through their inflexibility and democratization by restraining the development of civil society. Parts of the Muslim world conquered by Arab armies are especially undemocratic, which suggests that early Islamic institutions, including slave-based armies, were particularly critical to the persistence of authoritarian patterns of governance. States have contributed themselves to the persistence of authoritarianism by treating Islam as an instrument of governance. As the world started to industrialize, non-Muslim subjects of Muslim-governed states pulled ahead of their Muslim neighbors by exercising the choice of law they enjoyed under Islamic law in favor of a Western legal system
islam  culture  norms  institutions  economic_sociology  economic_history  review 
october 2017 by rvenkat
How Political Science Gets Politics Wrong. By: MOUNK, YASCHA, Chronicle of Higher Education
IN THE WAKE of the Great Recession, economists faced tough questions: How could they have missed the imminent collapse of the world economy? Of what use were all their intricate models if they couldn...
democracy  autocracy  norms  institutions  political_science  methods  critique  interview  from notes
september 2017 by rvenkat
Significant social change often comes from the unleashing of hidden preferences; it also comes from the construction of novel preferences. Under the pressure of social norms, people sometimes falsify their preferences. They do not feel free to say or do as they wish. Once norms are weakened or revised, through private efforts or law, it becomes possible to discover preexisting preferences. Because those preferences existed but were concealed, large-scale movements are both possible and exceedingly difficult to predict; they are often startling. But revisions of norms can also construct rather than uncover preferences. Once norms are altered, again through private efforts or law, people come to hold preferences that they did not hold before. Nothing has been unleashed. These points bear on the rise and fall (and rise again, and fall again) of discrimination on the basis of sex and race (and also religion and ethnicity). They also help illuminate the dynamics of social cascades and the effects of social norms on diverse practices and developments, including smoking, drinking, police brutality, protest activity, veganism, drug use, crime, white nationalism, “ethnification,” considerateness, and the public expression of religious beliefs.
social_behavior  contagion  homophily  ?  social_psychology  institutions  norms  collective_dynamics  cass.sunstein  judgment_decision-making  dmce  teaching 
august 2017 by rvenkat
Trumpism and American Democracy: History, Comparison, and the Predicament of Liberal Democracy in the United States by Robert C. Lieberman, Suzanne Mettler, Thomas B. Pepinsky, Kenneth M. Roberts, Richard Valelly :: SSRN
In the eyes of many citizens, activists, pundits, and scholars, American democracy appears under threat. Concern about President Trump and the future of American politics may be found among both conservatives and progressives; among voters, activists, and elites; and among many scholars and analysts of American and comparative politics. What is the nature of the Trumpism as a political phenomenon? And how much confidence should we have at present in the capacity of American institutions to withstand this threat?

In this essay, we argue that answering these questions and understanding what is uniquely threatening to democracy at the present moment requires looking beyond the contemporary particulars of Donald Trump and his presidency. Instead, it demands a historical and comparative perspective on American politics. Drawing on a range of insights from the fields of comparative politics and American political development, we argue that President Trump’s election in 2016 represents the intersection of three streams in American politics: polarized two-party presidentialism; a polity fundamentally divided over membership and status in the political community, in ways structured by race and economic inequality; and the erosion of democratic norms at the elite and mass levels. The current political circumstance is an existential threat to American democratic order because of the interactive effects of institutions, identity, and norm-breaking in American politics.
us_politics  political_science  institutions  democracy  autocracy  norms  trumpism  via:nyhan 
august 2017 by rvenkat
From Extreme to Mainstream: How Social Norms Unravel
Social norms are typically thought to be persistent and long-lasting, sometimes surviving through growth, recessions, and regime changes. In some cases, however, they can quickly change. This paper examines the unraveling of social norms in communication when new information becomes available, e.g., aggregated through elections. We build a model of strategic communication between citizens who can hold one of two mutually exclusive opinions. In our model, agents communicate their opinions to each other, and senders care about receivers' approval. As a result, senders are more likely to express the more popular opinion, while receivers make less inference about senders who stated the popular view. We test these predictions using two experiments. In the main experiment, we identify the causal effect of Donald Trump's rise in political popularity on individuals' willingness to publicly express xenophobic views. Participants in the experiment are offered a bonus reward if they authorize researchers to make a donation to an anti-immigration organization on their behalf. Participants who expect their decision to be observed by the surveyor are significantly less likely to accept the offer than those expecting an anonymous choice. Increases in participants' perceptions of Trump's popularity (either through experimental variation or through the “natural experiment” of his victory) eliminate the wedge between private and public behavior. A second experiment uses dictator games to show that participants judge a person less negatively for publicly expressing (but not for privately holding) a political view they disagree with if that person's social environment is one where the majority of people holds that view.
extremism  norms  institutions  rational_choice  polarization  collective_cognition  common_knowledge  political_economy  political_psychology  dmce  teaching 
may 2017 by rvenkat
Party Sub-Brands and American Party Factions
Scholars and pundits have long noted the dominance of the American two-party system, but we know relatively little about new, endogenous institutions that have emerged within the two major parties. I argue that ideological factions provide party sub-brands, which allow legislators to more precisely define their partisan type and capture faction-specific resources. To support this claim, I analyze new data on nine ideological factions in the House of Representatives (1995-2016). I find that [1] faction voting is distinct, suggestinga product ripe for party sub-branding, and [2] joining a faction changes the ideological composition of a candidate’s donor base — conditional on the strength of the faction’s institutions. Party sub-branding is effective only when factions possess organizational features that induce coordinated and disciplined position-taking (e.g., whips, PACs,membership restrictions). These results suggest that, even within highly polarized parties,American political ideology is more than a dichotomous choice, and factions target niche markets of political donors as a means of blunting financial instruments of party power.

--What they call __party sub-brands__ translates to other political parties in a multi-party democracy.
comparative  political_science  institutions  us_politics  ideology  polarization  via:nyhan 
april 2017 by rvenkat
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