Political Science
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News WWC

Why Wages Fell and Profits Surged

February has been punctuated by record shattering profit announcement, and its becoming increasingly obvious corporations are using emergencies — such as the pandemic, supply chain disruption, or gas shortages — as an excuse to raise gains.

Analysts are only just beginning to lay out the pattern, but in case you were wondering why stuff like peanut butter and cola got so expensive: it’s because big corporations are hiking prices by double-digit figures and making record profits, not because people are buying too much of it.

To those who actually buy stuff this may not seem like a groundbreaking insight, and yet for the past nine months, the European Central Bank (ECB), responsible for keeping prices level, has increased interest rates, making it even harder for people to buy things, while letting corporate profits — the main driver of inflation — off the hook.

This puts further pressure on disposable income, which despite massive government support schemes — estimated at €800bn in 2022 alone — fell by 2.9 percent last year; 6.9 percent in Greece and 3.1 percent in Germany, where it fell for the third year in a row.

The question is, why? Why do we suppress wages while letting let profits rip? To put it in historical perspective: in the 1970s, nearly 70 percent of economic output went to employees, with just over 20 percent going to profits. Now, labour’s share stands at 56 percent with a third going to profits.
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During testimony at a Thursday hearing held by the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement and Intelligence, Assistant Professor of China Studies and Political Science Tyler Jost addressed tensions between the U.S. and China.
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News from Brown

2023 Seed Award Robert Blair

Violence against land and environmental activists has increased dramatically in recent years, with countries in Latin America registering by far the highest number of deaths. What are the causes of this violence and what can be done to prevent it? In this study, we propose to systematically explore the political determinants of environment-related violence and identify potentially promising interventions to mitigate it. We focus on the Amazon, which accounts for half of the remaining tropical forest on the planet. The project consists of two components. First, we propose to build a quantitative dataset of killings of environmental activists (including, e.g., indigenous leaders and community representatives involved in environmental protection initiatives) in Brazil over the past twenty years using reports from NGOs and other sources. Second, we will complement our quantitative data with qualitative interviews with local communities and environmental defenders to better understand the variety of threats they face, and to identify factors that might help explain variation in the timing and intensity of those threats. We will also explore the possibility of running a rigorous impact evaluation (e.g. a randomized controlled trial) to evaluate interventions aimed at reducing environment-related violence. The Amazon has a major influence on the world’s climate and hydrological cycles; as such, preserving it and the people who protect it is key in the fight against climate change. This project will advance Brown’s ongoing commitment to support sustainability research and interventions to combat environmental degradation in one of the world’s most environmentally precarious regions.
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Dædalus Journal

All (Cautiously) Hail—and Scale—Community!

In her essay, Jenna Bednar makes a powerful case and sets out a persuasive framework for refocusing public policy away from the market toward “human flourishing.” In this response, I build on one of the pillars of her framework—community—to showcase its potential to promote human flourishing at scale. I show how communities can promote human flourishing not just locally, but also at the national level. And yet, a focus on the progressive power of nationalism at once also cautions against the dangers inherent in the concept of community itself: that is, that all communities are necessarily bounded and unequal. In laying bare the exclusion and violence that communities can inflict on those beyond their boundaries, and/or down the ladder of “prototypicality,” nationalism is a dark, stark reminder for all communities, including at the local level, to be consistently vigilant to both their boundaries and gradations of belonging. The task that Bednar emphasizes of building mutuality and trust within communities must proceed apace with a commitment to both expanding and building healthy relations with those beyond their boundaries, and ensuring the web of solidarity encompasses all equally within the community.
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The Russian invasion of Ukraine brought with it the specter of nuclear conflict—and that was not by chance. Drawing on their longer article in International Security, Reid Pauly and Rose McDermott of Brown University argue that states have many reasons to engage in nuclear brinkmanship. However, Pauly and McDermott warn that things can easily get out of control and that individual and small group psychology, not cold reason, may prove most important during crises.
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Grammars of Refusal

In one of Wittgenstein's examples in Philosophical Investigations, a so-called "aberrant pupil," instructed to add by twos, does so for a long while and then begins to add by fours. The question posed is whether the pupil has mastered the rule (such that he can confidently innovate on it) or whether he failed to understand it (suggesting he errs when he adds by fours but has been instructed to add by twos)....
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Scope Conditions Podcast

Overcoming the Hijab Penalty, with Donghyun Danny Choi

Today on Scope Conditions: what drives discrimination against immigrants – and what can be done about it?

When social scientists have sought to explain anti-immigrant bias, they’ve tended to focus on one of two possible causes: the perceived economic threat that migrants might pose to the native born or the cultural threat driven by differences in race, ethnicity, or religion.

In a new book with Mathias Poertner and Nicholas Sambanis, our guest Donghyun Danny Choi, an assistant professor of political science at Brown, uses an innovative set of field experiments to test an alternative possibility: that the native-born perceive migrants as a threat to longstanding civic norms.

Could anti-immigrant bias be shaped by fears – often unjustified – that newcomers don’t share the same ideas about the meaning and practice of citizenship? Can misperceptions about norm-divergence be corrected? And are there interventions that can actually lead native-born citizens to adopt more cooperative behaviors across ethnic and cultural divides?

In their book Native Bias, Danny and his coauthors try to get at these questions using a wonderfully creative set of experiments, carried out across Germany shortly after the arrival of over a million Syrian refugees. You’ll have to listen to find out how the experiments worked – but for now we’ll just say that they involved dropping thousands of lemons on train platforms.

We talk with Danny about how the team came up with their experimental designs, how they carried them out, and what they found. One of their most interesting findings is that native German women tend to be more accepting of Muslim female migrants who signal that they hold progressive gender norms. But we also push Danny on the implications of the book’s findings. The treatments in the experiments involve immigrants demonstrably signaling their adherence to dominant German values. Even if this signaling works to dampen discrimination, we wondered how exactly this kind of intervention can be scaled up to the societal level. We also talk with Danny about who the book is saying bears the onus of reducing discrimination: is it up to immigrants to “fit in” better or up to natives to examine their own prejudices?

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Journal of Democracy

How India's Ruling Party Erodes Democracy

India's democratic backsliding began with the rise to power of Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2014 elections. Five years later, the party won an even bigger parliamentary majority. The BJP now runs not only the central government, but also all but ten of the 28 states, whether on its own or allied with other parties. Though India has not regressed democratically by the criteria of electoral contestation and participation, it has failed to ensure that the rights of Muslims and other minorities are respected. It has also impaired freedom of expression and freedom of association. Electoral democracy is thus coming into conflict with the broader notion of democracy, electoral as well as nonelectoral, that India's 1950 Constitution enshrines.
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Two studies (one preregistered) of Americans (N = 2200) drawn from a nationally representative panel show that both Democrats and Republicans personally value core democratic characteristics, such as free and fair elections, but severely underestimate opposing party members’ support for those same characteristics. Democrats estimate that the average Democrat values democratic characteristics 56% (in Study 1) and 77% (in Study 2) more than the average Republican. In a mirror image, Republicans estimate that the average Republican values democratic characteristics 82% (in Study 1) and 88% (in Study 2) more than the average Democrat. In turn, the tendency to believe that political ingroup members value democratic characteristics more than political outgroup members is associated with support for anti-democratic practices, especially among Republicans. Results suggest biased and inaccurate intergroup perceptions may contribute to democratic erosion in the United States.
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Heidelberg Center for American Studies and the Department of Theology

Professor Melvin Rogers WINS the James W.C. Pennington Award

The James W.C. Pennington Award is given to scholars who have done distinguished work on topics important to Pennington: slavery, emancipation, peace, education, reform, civil rights, religion, and intercultural understanding. The award encompasses a month-long stay in Heidelberg to engage in research on and discuss these topics. On the occasion of the award ceremony, recipients give a public lecture exploring new avenues in their respective fields of research.
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Dr. Sanne Verschuren has been awarded the 2022 Kenneth Waltz Outstanding Dissertation Award from the International Security Section of the American Political Science Association for her dissertation titled "Imagining the Unimaginable: War, Weapons, and Procurement Politics".

Dr. Sanne Verschuren has been awarded the 2022 Kenneth Waltz Outstanding Dissertation Award from the International Security Section of the American Political Science Association for her dissertation titled "Imagining the Unimaginable: War, Weapons, and Procurement Politics".

The Kenneth N. Waltz Dissertation Award is awarded to a successfully defended doctoral dissertation employing any approach (historical, quantitative, theoretical, policy analysis, etc.) to any topic in the field of security studies. Manuscripts are judged according to (1) originality in substance and approach; (2) significance for scholarly or policy debate; (3) rigor in approach and analysis; and (4) power of expression.

Dr. Sanne Verschuren received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Brown University and her research focuses on the development of military technology, shifts in military strategy and tactics, and the role of ideas and norms therein. She was a Stanton Postdoctoral Fellow for CISAC during the 2021-2022 academic year.
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The Republican Party “realizes that abortion rights is a much stronger mobilizing force in the 2022 midterms among Democrats and independents than they anticipated,“ said Professor of Political Science Wendy Schiller.
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The DoD announced today the selection of the 2022-2023 cohort of the Minerva-USIP Peace and Security Dissertation Fellows. Partnering with the USIP’s Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar Dissertation Fellowship program, this prestigious award received more than 80 applicants from 52 U.S. universities. Those chosen for the Peace and Security Scholar Fellowship show great potential to advance the peacebuilding and security fields and to positively influence policy and practice.

“These awards complement the success of USIP’s Jennings Randolph Program for International Peace to expand support for advanced graduate students and create opportunities for ongoing support and engagement,” said Dr. Bindu Nair, Director of the Basic Research Office. “We are proud of the doctoral candidates being funded through this collaboration with the U.S. Institute of Peace and look forward to seeing their projects develop.”
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New Books Network

The Future of Political Anger

Trump’s voters. The yellow jackets in France. Putin’s base in Russia. The Brexiteers. One thing all these groups have in common is anger – anger at being left behind, anger about de industrialization, anger at the arrogance and wealth of the elite. But what more can be said about the nature of that anger and the different aspects of it? In Angrynomics (Agenda Publishing, 2020) Mark Blyth and Eric Lonergan address this question. Today I talked to Blyth, a professor of political economy at Brown University.
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It’s the Free Speech, Stupid

Professor of Political Science Corey Brettschneider discusses the difference between political and cultural speech, the real meaning of democracy, and the current Supreme Court's talk of originalism.
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US News and World Report

Pelosi Lands in Taiwan as China Lashes Out

Beijing blasted the ‘provocative’ and ‘wrongful’ visit by the House speaker to the island nation while also announcing new military action.
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Professor of Political Science Wendy Schiller offered commentary on how efforts to promote candidates who amplify conspiracy theories about election results damage democracy.
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Assistant Professor of Political Science Paul Testa discussed a study he leads on the importance of cis men to hear about abortion rights from other men, which could influence how they view the issues and potentially whether or not they take action.
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Corey Brettschneider on Free Speech

Yascha Mounk and Corey Brettschneider discuss how the state can disavow hate speech without infringing on freedom of expression.
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In exploring the fiscal state of the union this week, it's clear that jobs, gas, GDP, and politics are all data points. But it seems like the math is...inconclusive. Things might get better, they might get worse. We're just not sure — no one is.

Brooke sits down with Mark Blyth, political economist and professor of International Economics and Public Affairs at Brown University, to discuss what our economy says about us — and why, like so many of humanity’s creations, it ultimately reveals our accomplishments, advances, fears, and of course, mistakes.
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Biographers International Organizations

Professor Marion Orr WINS the 2022 BIO's Frances Frank Rollin Fellowship

Professor Orr is the 2022 WINNER of the BIO’s Frances Frank Rollin Fellowship for his proposed biography of former U.S. Congressman Charles Diggs Jr.

The Rollin Fellowship aims to remediate the disproportionate scarcity and even suppression of Black lives and voices in the broad catalog of published biography. This fellowship reflects not only BIO’s commitment to supporting working biographers but to encouraging diversity in the field.
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Partial Hegemony: Oil Politics and International Order

Winner, Jervis-Schroeder Best Book Award, APSA International History and Politics Section
Co-Winner, Best Book Award, APSA International Collaboration Section
Winner, Best Book Award (Energy Policy—Non-Fiction), American Energy Society
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Wilson Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science, Margaret Weir, is the 2022 winner of the Wilson Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science. This award is given by the Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations section of the American Political Science Association recognizing Margaret's distinguished scholarly contributions to the study of federalism and intergovernmental relations.
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Sanne has been awarded the 2022 Kenneth Waltz Outstanding Dissertation Award from the International Security Section of the American Political Science Association.

The committee received a record number of submissions this year and her dissertation, 'Imagining the Unimaginable: War, Weapons, and Procurement Politics', was selected by the committee as being most worthy of this award.
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As Late As Necessary

After the US Supreme Court ruling, where does this leave women in the US? Political theorist Alex Gourevitch joins us to discuss Roe v Wade, and how the fact it rooted abortion in a right to privacy was problematic.

How can we ground the right to abortion in an argument for freedom in general? And is the US really faced with a rising tide of reaction, as liberals claim? Are same-sex marriage and contraception imperilled by the decision.
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Global recession?

As inflation and interest rates continue to rise, is it possible to predict a global recession at this stage?
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Providence Business News

MAKING A MARK: Gaining influence takes time in U.S. House

Professor of Political Science Wendy Schiller offered commentary on the challenges that newly elected House members face on the job, including working on policies that aren't their specialty.
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U.S. News and World Report

Russia’s Ukraine Failures Shake China’s Taiwan Plans

China has publicly appeared more emboldened than ever about its ambitions to retake control of Taiwan. Privately, however, its confidence has faltered as Beijing studies Moscow’s failures in Ukraine.
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The New York Times

How Much Do Your Genes Shape Your Politics?

McDermott wrote by email that her conclusion “does not mean that 60 percent of ideology comes from genetic factors but rather that around 60 percent of differences between people can be attributed to genetic factors.”
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YouTube/Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

US-China Competition: Who’s Winning?

Watson Institute director and Dean's Professor of China Studies Edward Steinfeld talks about China and the U.S. with Watson Senior Fellow Ambassador Chas Freeman and Tyler Jost, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International and Public Affairs.
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The Christian Science Monitor

Why Fed says fighting inflation is Job 1, despite recession risk

But the reality is that the Fed is the world’s de facto central bank, says Mark Blyth, a professor of international economics at Brown University. He reckons that if the Fed overshoots in raising rates it could trigger “the mother of all capital flights” from riskier financial assets into U.S. bonds and other securities. And that destabilizing scenario could stay the hands of Fed policymakers who might otherwise want to tighten more aggressively.
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Abortion rights activists in recent days have gathered outside the homes of three conservative Supreme Court justices to protest Roe v. Wade’s potential demise, taking their advocacy in an intensely personal and politically divisive direction.
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