Political Studies

Sage Publications, Inc.
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Latest documents

  • Does It Pay Off? The Effects of Party Leadership Elections on Parties’ Trustworthiness and Appeal to Voters

    In the last few decades, political parties in several Western countries have opened up the process of leadership selection to all party members. So far, research has mainly focused on the drivers of this development, taking into account both internal factors (reducing power of middle-level party elites) and external factors (increasing the party’s attractiveness). Only few studies have tested the effects of these external arguments. In this study, we investigate whether parties that select their leader inclusively (1) exhibit higher levels of trustworthiness, and are more appealing to (2) voters and (3) potential members. Based on the procedural fairness argument, we expect a positive effect of inclusive procedures. We conduct a vignette experiment with fictional parties and find that inclusive selection procedures do not strengthen citizens’ perceptions of trustworthiness. Moreover, citizens are not more willing to vote or join parties with inclusive selection procedures.

  • Prefigurative Politics and Social Movement Strategy: The Roles of Prefiguration in the Reproduction, Mobilisation and Coordination of Movements

    Recent work historicises and theoretically refines the concept of prefigurative politics. Yet disagreements over the question of whether or how it is politically effective remain. What roles does prefiguration play in strategies of transformation, and what implications does it have for understandings of strategy? The article begins to answer this question by tracking the concept’s use, from discussions of left strategy in the 1960s, a qualifier of new social movements in the 1980s–1990s, its application to protest events in the 2000s, to its contemporary proliferation of meanings. This contextualises reflections on the changing arguments about the roles of prefiguration in social movement strategy. Based on literature about strategy, three essential categories of applied movement strategy are identified: reproduction, mobilisation and coordination. Prefigurative dynamics are part of all three, showing that the reproduction of movements is strategically significant, while the coordination of movements can take various ‘prefigurative’ forms.

  • Do Sociotropic Concerns Mask Prejudice? Experimental Evidence on the Sources of Public Opposition to Immigration

    Does opposition to immigration mostly stem from prejudice or from sociotropic concerns about broad economic and cultural implications on the nation as a whole? Previous work on immigration preferences cannot answer this question because the two explanations are observationally equivalent when focusing on the attitudes of natives. I analyze a unique survey experiment that asks both natives and immigrants of various origins to evaluate different profiles of visa applicants to the Netherlands. The experiment also assigns an “ingroup treatment”—applications by individuals of the same ethnocultural background as the respondent. Using this rich data, I show that sociotropic concerns are the major source of immigration preferences, while ethnic biases play a moderate role. Remarkably, the ingroup treatment has limited effects on admission. However, bias against specific immigrant groups is detected in preferences of immigrant respondents and of those who sympathize with the far-right Freedom Party.

  • Political Veganism: An Empirical Analysis of Vegans’ Motives, Aims, and Political Engagement

    Scholars increasingly argue that the vegan lifestyle reflects a broader pattern of how political behavior is becoming more individualized and private. Veganism is particularly viewed as an unconventional form of political participation, as it is conducted to address ethical concerns and to change market practices. However, this argumentation lacks detailed empirical data. By means of an original standardized survey of a purposive sample of 648 vegans in Switzerland, this study shows that (1) a vast majority of vegans is politically motivated and aims to induce change in society at large; (2) they are highly engaged in a broad variety of political activities; and (3) politically motivated vegans live vegan more strictly and are more politically active than vegans motivated by personal concerns. This study contributes to the understanding of political participation in current times, and the insights gained may prove useful to vegan movement groups or the food industry.

  • Political Leaders, Economic Hardship, and Redistribution in Democracies: Impact of Political Leaders on Welfare Policy

    This study analyzes how political leaders’ material backgrounds affect redistributive policies in democracies. Building on political socialization theory, we argue that politicians with personal experience of economic hardship are more likely to have sympathetic attitudes toward redistribution than those without such experience, particularly where political constraints are weak. We posit that firsthand knowledge of economic hardship helps political leaders understand why the poor need government redistribution, and leads them to support more generous social welfare policies. Analyzing an original dataset of leaders’ material background in 74 democratic countries between 1980 and 2011, we find that leaders who experienced economic hardship in their youth increase social welfare spending during their tenure, particularly when political constraints are weak. Following prior studies on leaders’ personal experiences and policy outcomes, this study provides a new approach to redistribution and welfare policy.

  • Russian Intervention in Syria: Exploring the Nexus between Regime Consolidation and Energy Transnationalisation

    Interpretations of Russia’s military intervention in Syria overwhelmingly focus on Russia’s political motivations. An alternative view foregrounds Russia’s economic motivations, namely, the construction of a multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline traversing Iran, Iraq and Syria. This article examines the salience of Russia’s economic motivations and considers two related aspects: First, if Russian intervention aims to secure areas of strategic importance for the proposed pipeline. Second, if Russian intervention realises longer term political and commercial interests that include proposed future pipeline projects. The evidence suggests Russian military policies towards Syria are unlikely to be motivated primarily by the prospect of a proposed gas pipeline, but that regime consolidation is a more immediate policy goal. This article then posits that Russian intervention has a distinct ‘dual logic’ aimed at integrating the interests of key regional actors into a transnational energy network, while stabilising Russia’s regional dominance within this network.

  • Just What Is Ontological Political Theory Meant to do? The Method and Practice of William E. Connolly

    This article provides a critical appraisal of the ontological method of political theorizing through an examination of the methodological development of the work of William E. Connolly. Connolly has often been taken as a paradigmatic figure of the ‘ontological turn’. This is not only because of the significance of his work in the field but because he is one of its major methodological articulators. However, there has been no systematic evaluation of that method and its development. This paper rectifies that lacuna by critically illustrating Connolly’s turn from a post-positivistic interpretivism to his much noted ‘onto-political method’. It argues that the latter, while usually thought to be modelled on the work of Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault, is structured by Heidegger’s understanding of ontological difference. The paper then argues that this leads to several problematic tendencies within Connolly’s model that undermine the critical-explanatory and normative power of his methodology by compromising the critical reflexivity ontology is meant to provide. All of this raises some concerns and criticisms of the use of ontological method of political theorizing, which has escaped sustained methodological analysis and scrutiny.

  • When Planets Collide: The British Conservative Party and the Discordant Goals of Delivering Brexit and Preserving the Domestic Union, 2016–2019

    This article explores how the British Conservative Party has dealt with the dilemmas arising from its pursuit of two increasingly discordant goals: delivering Brexit and maintaining the domestic Union. Drawing on interviews and analyses of parliamentary debates, we identify a resurgence in the 2016–2019 period of an older belief in a unitarist state, and a new form of pro-Union activism in policy terms. Against those commentators who depict Britain’s Conservatives as having abandoned their unionist vocation, we explore the coalescence of a more assertive and activist strain of unionist sentiment. But we also find a willingness among Conservatives at the centre to sub-contract thinking about non-English parts of the UK to ‘local’ political representatives such as the Democratic Unionist Party and the Scottish Conservatives, and a growing anxiety about how to handle emergent tensions between the competing priorities associated with delivering Brexit and maintaining the domestic Union.

  • Class, Power and the Structural Dependence Thesis: Distributive Conflict in the UK, 1892–2018

    Can political parties, social movements and governments influence market outcomes and shape the functioning of a capitalist economy? Is it possible for social democratic parties, and the labour movement in general, to promote a significant redistribution of income in favour of labour? According to proponents of the structural dependence thesis, the answer to both questions is negative, because the structural dependence of labour upon capital severely constrains feasible income distributions. This article provides a long-run analysis of the UK, which casts doubts on the structural dependence thesis. There is some evidence of a short-run profit-squeeze mechanism, but income shares are much more variable in the long-run than the structural dependence argument suggests, and the power resources available to social classes are among the key determinants of distributive outcomes.

  • A Tale of Populism? The Determinants of Voting for Left-Wing Populist Parties in Spain1

    Evidence indicates that populist attitudes matter for voting decisions, but findings are still inconclusive about whether this happens regardless of individuals’ positioning on more traditional dimensions of electoral competition. This article focuses on the probability of voting for populist parties in Spain, a country where only left-wing populist parties existed in 2015–2016. Therefore, not all populist individuals, who were spread across the left–right axis, had a natural voting option that combined their populist and left–right preferences. Although this situation could make it more likely that stronger populist attitudes increase likelihood of voting populist regardless of preferences on other political dimensions, the results of this analysis show otherwise. Stronger populist attitudes significantly increase the likelihood of voting for left-wing populist parties only among individuals located in the left side of the ideological axis. The effect seems largely influenced by preferences related to economic redistribution.

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