Friday, February 26th, 2016

Michael James – James, Michael. “Constituency Deliberation.” Political Research Quarterly 68, no. 3 (2015) : 552-563.

Michael James, Associate Professor of Political Science

How do we distinguish legitimate, democratic representation from illegitimate, undemocratic elite rule? Empirical scholars of representation typically rely on the “bedrock norm” that democratic representatives must respond to the antecedent interests of their constituents, but empirical studies of public opinion suggest that constituents’ interests emerge following engagement with their representatives. The result is the “constituency paradox”: representatives are supposed to respond to constituent interests, interests that representatives themselves help to create. Deliberative democratic theories seek to circumvent this paradox by distinguishing between representatives who communicatively educate their constituents from those who strategically manipulate them, but it is empirically impossible to distinguish legitimate education from illegitimate manipulation. Nondeliberative criteria requiring elite competition and popular contestation also fail to ground legitimate democratic representation. In response, I develop a model of constituency deliberation that does not rely on the bedrock norm, accepts strategic as well as communicative action, acknowledges the asymmetric but reciprocal relationship between constituents and representatives, and uses a systemic approach to assess democratic representation. This deliberative model leads to institutional reforms that avoid the bedrock norm and seek to mitigate representative manipulation by creating space for constituents to respond to representatives’ claims to represent their interests.

James, Michael. “Constituency Deliberation.” Political Research Quarterly 68, no. 3 (2015) : 552-563.

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Friday, February 26th, 2016

Michael James – James, Michael Rabinder. “Two Concepts of Constituency.” Journal of Politics 77, no. 2 (2015) : 381-393.

Michael James, Associate Professor of Political Science

In this essay, I challenge the conceptual and normative arguments of Andrew Rehfeld’s The Concept of Constituency. I argue that Rehfeld conflates two distinct concepts of constituency as a result of errors in his normative argument for random, permanent constituencies. In response, I carefully distinguish the two concepts of objective constituency (the grouping of citizens into geographic or other electoral rolls through parametric action) and subjective constituency (the formation of cohesive voting blocs to elect a representative through strategic and communicative action between constituents and candidates). Distinguishing between objective and subjective constituency allows me to identify the shortcomings in the normative analyses of democratic constituencies proffered by Lisa Disch and Thomas Pogge. I then propose the use of random, permanent constituencies, each of which elects five representatives through the single transferable vote. This facilitates the representation of racial and ethnic minorities, while encouraging constituency deliberation aimed at the national interest.

James, Michael Rabinder. “Two Concepts of Constituency.” Journal of Politics 77, no. 2 (2015) : 381-393.

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Friday, February 26th, 2016

John A. Doces – Magee, Christopher S. and Doces, John A. “Reconsidering Regime Type and Growth: Lies, Dictatorships, and Statistics.” International Studies Quarterly 59, no. 2 (2015) : 223-237.

John A. Doces, Associate Professor of Political Science

Some recent papers have concluded that authoritarian regimes have faster economic growth than democracies. These supposed growth benefits of autocracies are estimated using data sets in which growth rates rely heavily on data reported by each government. Governments have incentives to exaggerate their economic growth figures, however, and authoritarian regimes may have fewer limitations than democracies on their ability to do so. This paper argues that growth data submitted to international agencies are overstated by authoritarian regimes compared to democracies. If true, it calls into question the estimated relationship between government type and economic growth found in the literature. To measure the degree to which each government’s official growth statistics are overstated, the economic growth rates reported in the World Bank’s World Development Indicators are compared to a new measure of economic growth based on satellite imaging of nighttime lights. This comparison reveals whether or not dictators exaggerate their true growth rates and by how much. Annual GDP growth rates are estimated to be overstated by 0.5-1.5 percentage points in the statistics that dictatorships report to the World Bank.

Magee, Christopher S. and Doces, John A. “Reconsidering Regime Type and Growth: Lies, Dictatorships, and Statistics.” International Studies Quarterly 59, no. 2 (2015) : 223-237.

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Friday, February 26th, 2016

John A. Doces – Doces, John A. and Magee, Christopher S. “Trade and Democracy: A Factor-Based Approach.” International Interactions 41, no. 2 (2015) : 407-425.

John A. Doces, Associate Professor of Political Science

We study the relationship between trade openness and democracy using a data set with capital-labor ratios, trade flows, and regime type for 142 countries between 1960 and 2007. We are among the first to test a prediction that emerges from the model of Acemoglu and Robinson (2006): Relative factor endowments determine whether trade promotes democracy or not. The statistical results from two-stage least squares estimation indicate that trade is positively associated with democracy among labor-abundant countries but that trade has a negative effect on democracy in capital-abundant countries. The results are not robust, however, and thus we conclude that the evidence in support of their argument is relatively weak.

Doces, John A. and Magee, Christopher S. “Trade and Democracy: A Factor-Based Approach.” International Interactions 41, no. 2 (2015) : 407-425.

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