Political science can gain from incorporating richer conceptions of social relations into its analyses. In place of atomistic entities endowed with assets but few social relationships, social actors should be seen as relational entities embedded in social and cultural structures that connect them to others in multifaceted ways. Understanding those relationships requires a deeper understanding of how institutional and cultural frameworks interact to condition the terrain for social action. More intensive dialogue with sociology can inform such an understanding. We review the analytical tools cultural sociology now offers those interested in such a perspective and illustrate it in operation in studies of inequalities in population health and the effects of neoliberalism. We close by outlining several issues to which this perspective can usefully be applied, including the problems of understanding social resilience, how societies build collective capacities, and why some institutions remain robust while others deteriorate.
The Federal Reserve's mandate has evolved considerably over the organization's hundred-year history. It was changed from an initial focus in 1913 on financial stability, to fiscal financing in World War II and its aftermath, to a strong anti-inflation focus from the late 1970s, and then back to greater emphasis on financial stability since the Great Contraction. Yet, as the Fed's mandate has expanded in recent years, its range of instruments has narrowed, partly based on a misguided belief in the inherent stability of financial markets. We argue for a return to multiple instruments, including a more active role for reserve requirements.
In the past, industrial countries have tended to pursue countercyclical or, at worst, acyclical ﬁscal policy. In sharp contrast, emerging and developing countries have followed procyclical ﬁscal policy, thus exacerbating the underlying business cycle. We show that, over the last decade, about a third of the developing world has been able to escape the procyclicality trap and actually become countercyclical. We then focus on the role played by the quality of institutions, which appears to be a key determinant of a country’s ability to graduate. We show that, even after controlling for the endogeneity of institutions and other determinants of ﬁscal procyclicality, there is a causal link running from stronger institutions to less procyclical or more countercyclical ﬁscal policy.
Eurozone members are supposedly constrained by the fiscal caps of the Stability and Growth Pact. Yet ever since the birth of the euro, members have postponed painful adjustment. Wishful thinking has played an important role in this failure. We find that governments' forecasts are biased in the optimistic direction, especially during booms. Eurozone governments are especially over-optimistic when the budget deficit is over the 3% cap at the time the forecasts are made. Those exceeding this cap systematically but falsely forecast a rapid future improvement. The new fiscal compact among the euro countries is supposed to make budget rules more binding by putting them into laws and constitutions at the national level. But biased forecasts can defeat budget rules. What is the record in Europe with national rules? The bias is less among eurozone countries that have adopted certain rules at the national level, particularly creating an independent fiscal institution that provides independent forecasts.
This week, the Canadian province of Quebec announced controversial, wide-ranging legislation keeping religion out of the workplace, called the "Quebec Charter of Values." The measure would include a ban on state employees from wearing overt religious symbols, including Muslim hijabs (headscarves), Jewish yarmulkes (skullcaps) or Christian crosses. RT's Ameera David talks to Jacob Remes, a research fellow at Harvard University's Canada Program, about the debate on religious freedom versus secularism in Quebec.
The globalization of accounting standards as seen through the proliferation of IFRS worldwide is one of the most important developments in corporate governance over the last decade. I offer an analysis of some international political dynamics of countries’ IFRS harmonization decisions. The analysis is based on field studies in three jurisdictions: Canada, China, and India. Across these jurisdictions, I first describe unique elements of domestic political economies that are shaping IFRS policies. Then, I inductively isolate two principal dimensions that can be used to characterize the jurisdictions’ IFRS responses: proximity to existing political powers at the IASB; and own potential political power at the IASB. Based on how countries are classified along these dimensions, I offer predictions, ceteris paribus, on countries’ IFRS harmonization strategies. The analysis and framework in this paper can help broaden the understanding of accounting’s globalization.
This paper sheds light on the links between media and political polarization by looking at the introduction of broadcast TV in the US. We provide causal evidence that broadcast TV decreased the ideological extremism of US representatives. We then show that exposure to radio was associated with decreased polarization. We interpret this result using a simple framework that identifies two channels linking media environment to politicians' incentives to polarize. First, the ideology effect: changes in the media environment may affect the distribution of citizens' ideological views, with politicians moving their positions accordingly. Second, the motivation effect: the media may affect citizens' political motivation, changing the ideological composition of the electorate and thereby impacting elite polarization while mass polarization is unchanged. The evidence on polarization and turnout is consistent with a prevalence of the ideology effect in the case of TV, as both of them decreased. Increased turnout associated with radio exposure is in turn consistent with a role for the motivation effect.
In recent years, populism has attracted considerable interest from social scientists and political
commentators (Panizza 2005, Bale et al. 2011, Mudde 2004, Berezin 2013, Rovira Kaltwasser
2013), despite the fact that, “[t]he mercurial nature of populism has often exasperated those
attempting to take it seriously” (Stanley 2008, 108). Indeed, the term ‘populism’ is both widely
used and widely contested (Roberts 2006; Barr 2009).1 It has been defined based on political,
economic, social, and discursive features (Weyland 2001, 1) and analyzed from myriad
theoretical perspectives—including structuralism, post-structuralism, modernization theory,
social movement theory, party politics, political psychology, political economy, and democratic
theory—and a variety of methodological approaches, such as archival research, discourse
analysis, and formal modeling (Acemoglu et al. 2011, Ionescu and Gellner 1969, Canovan 2002,
Hawkins 2009, Goodliffe 2012, Postel 2007). As observed by Wiles, “to each his own definition
of populism, according to the academic axe he grinds” (Wiles, in Iunescu and Gellner 1969, p.
Much of the current scholarship on wartime violence, including studies of the combatants themselves, assumes that women are victims and men are perpetrators. However, there is an increasing awareness that women in armed groups may be active fighters who function as more than just cooks, cleaners, and sexual slaves. In this article, the author focuses on the involvement of female fighters in a form of violence that is commonly thought to be perpetrated only by men: the wartime rape of noncombatants. Using original interviews with ex-combatants and newly available survey data, she finds that in the Sierra Leone civil war, female combatants were participants in the widespread conflict-related violence, including gang rape. A growing body of evidence from other conflicts suggests that Sierra Leone is not an anomaly and that women likely engage in conflict-related violence, including sexual violence, more often than is currently believed. Many standard interpretations of wartime rape are undermined by the participation of female perpetrators. To explain the involvement of women in wartime rape, the author argues that women in armed group units face similar pressure to that faced by their male counterparts to participate in gang rape. The study has broad implications for future avenues of research on wartime violence, as well as for policy.
Why do some armed groups commit massive wartime rape, whereas others never do? Using an original dataset, I describe the substantial variation in rape by armed actors during recent civil wars and test a series of competing causal explanations. I find evidence that the recruitment mechanism is associated with the occurrence of wartime rape. Specifically, the findings support an argument about wartime rape as a method of socialization, in which armed groups that recruit by force—through abduction or pressganging—use rape to create unit cohesion. State weakness and insurgent contraband funding are also associated with increased wartime rape by rebel groups. I examine observable implications of the argument in a brief case study of the Sierra Leone civil war. The results challenge common explanations for wartime rape, with important implications for scholars and policy makers.
A Journey with Margaret Thatcher is an extraordinary insider’s account of British foreign policy under Margaret Thatcher by one of her key advisers. Providing a closeup view of the Iron Lady in action, former high-ranking diplomat Robin Renwick examines her diplomatic successes – including the defeat of aggression in the Falklands, what the Americans felt to be the excessive influence she exerted on Ronald Reagan, her special relationship with Mikhail Gorbachev and contribution to the ending of the Cold War, the Anglo-Irish agreement, her influence with de Klerk in South Africa and relationship with Nelson Mandela – and what she herself acknowledged as her spectacular failure in resisting German reunification. He describes at first hand her often turbulent relationship with other European leaders and her arguments with her Cabinet colleagues about European monetary union (in which regard, he contends, her arguments have stood the test of time better and are highly relevant to the crisis in the eurozone today). Finally, the book tells of her bravura performance in the run up to the Gulf War, her calls for intervention in Bosnia and the difficulties she created for her successor. While her faults were on the same scale as her virtues, Margaret Thatcher succeeded in her mission to restore Britain’s standing and influence, in the process becoming a cult figure in many other parts of the world.
Barack Obama’s galvanizing victory in 2008, coming amid the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, opened the door to major reforms. But the president quickly faced skepticism from supporters and fierce opposition from Republicans, who scored sweeping wins in the 2010 midterm election. Here, noted political scientist Theda Skocpol surveys the political landscape and explores its most consequential questions: What happened to Obama’s “new New Deal”? Why have his achievements enraged opponents more than they have satisfied supporters? How has the Tea Party’s ascendance reshaped American politics?Skocpol’s compelling account rises above conventional wisdom and overwrought rhetoric. The Obama administration’s response to the recession produced bold initiatives—health care reform, changes in college loans, financial regulation—that promise security and opportunity. But these reforms are complex and will take years to implement. Potential beneficiaries do not readily understand them, yet the reforms alarm powerful interests and political enemies, creating the volatile mix of confusion and fear from which Tea Party forces erupted. Skocpol dissects the popular and elite components of the Tea Party reaction that has boosted the Republican Party while pushing it far to the right at a critical juncture for US politics and governance.Skocpol’s analysis is accompanied by contributions from two fellow scholars and a former congressman. At this moment of economic uncertainty and extreme polarization, as voters prepare to render another verdict on Obama’s historic presidency, Skocpol and her respondents help us to understand its triumphs and setbacks and see where we might be headed next.