Fictional Political Scientists

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Carla Martinez Machain. She is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Kansas State University. In having a recent conversation with one of my colleagues in the English department, she noted (with much regret), that the most common characteristic of English professors in fiction is a wish (fulfilled or not) to sleep with their students.  I ran through a few examples in my head (here and here, just to name two); she clearly had a point.  Soon after that, I spoke with someone in the Anthropology department, who decried the Continue reading

Data Collection Project: Songs that Mention Being a Specific Age

This complicated and strange project began innocently enough when I decided to make a mix CD for my friend’s birthday and went searching for relevant songs. But ‘songs about being xx’ turns out not to be a very straightforward thing to search for and so after burning the CD I was left with a burning question: why had I found so few songs? In this blog post, I look at which ages get sung about and which don’t, and I present a comprehensive list of 189 songs that mention being a specific age. You can download the list here, and Continue reading

Reducing Infant Mortality Rates

 Infant Mortality Rates in the United States In 2010, the US had an infant mortality rate of 6.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. This was the third largest infant mortality rate among OECD countries, only less than Mexico and Turkey. In contrast, Finland had the second lowest infant mortality rate among OECD countries, with an average of 2.3 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. However, Finland did not always have a low infant mortality rate. Back in the 1930s, it was relatively high. As a result, the government created a program, the maternity box, in order help reduce infant Continue reading

So You’re on the Job Market, Part II: Expectations

In a previous post I outlined some of the steps graduate students can take to prepare for their time on the job market. I want to emphasize again that much of this really reflects my own set of experiences and training (i.e. three years applying for tenure track jobs at research universities). Much of what I’ve written is also the product of spending time on a search committee myself, but also speaking to several other people with much more experience on search committees than I have. That said, I suspect teaching programs and smaller liberal arts colleges are often looking Continue reading

Star Wars as Civil War

Wookieepedia It should come as no surprise that, in addition to gaming (board, video, and card), enjoying comics and comic book movies, and about everything else that is nerdy, I enjoy speculative fiction (and fantasy) and that includes the high fantasy in space that is Star Wars.  The past six months or so have been a good time to be a Star Wars fan as the takeover by Disney has allowed us to speculate as to what they will do with the franchise, enjoy the news that they are continuing the saga, and encourage some debate as to whether the prequels Continue reading

Handicapping the Republican Party’s Odds in the 2016 Presidential Race

Mitt Romney was a good presidential candidate; he ran a good campaign in the 2012 election.  He had the necessary experience.  He stayed on message, performed well in the debates, and by most accounts, appeared presidential.   Romney also had the benefit of not flying into a strong economic headwind; the state of the economy certainly did not provide Barack Obama with an insurmountable advantage (although, the economic fundamentals were perceived by some as far more dire than the actually were).  Yet, Romney lost in spite of his attractive qualities and Obama’s potential vulnerabilities.  The election was not even especially close.  Obama Continue reading

It’s Only Half-Time for Brazil’s Protest Movements

The story of this World Cup has been the matches – high scoring, surprise exits, unexpected advances and exciting play. Yet, several weeks before the Cup began, most coverage of the tournament fell into two camps. The first emphasized popular outrage at Brazil’s extensive spending on soccer stadiums and other improvements meant to streamline the flow of spectators around the country- all while inequality, corruption and poverty are still part of daily Brazilian life See these articles in the Wall Street Journal WSJ and in one of Brazil’s leading newspapers: Folha (English) The second camp focused on the seeming lack of preparation Continue reading

Happy Medium, Happy Citizens: Presidential Power & Democratic Regime Support

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Shane P. Singh, Assistant Professor of International Affairs at the University of Georgia, and Ryan E. Carlin, Associate Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University.  Their article, “Happy Medium, Happy Citizens: Presidential Power and Democratic Regime Support,” is forthcoming at Political Research Quarterly. The presidential model of democracy is famously associated with democratic instability, as presidents are prone to usurping power beyond their mandates and clashing with the legislature, which is elected separately and can also claim to speak for the people. Nevertheless, newly (re-)emerged democracies in Latin America have chosen to Continue reading

Explaining A Party System by Looking at the Alternatives to Parties

The most recent issue of Party Politics (July 2014) includes my article on why political activists choose to form different types of political organizations (you can find the version of record and abstract here). This work was a core part of my dissertation, and so I’d like to take this opportunity to give an informal overview of it, and particularly some of the more general implications. I think this work is most relevant to people interested in party system size, emerging issues such as environmentalism, and activist behaviour. The basic idea is about how different political organizations can substitute for each Continue reading

Relative Asymmetry


null0  Power is often the go-to solution for many puzzles in international relations, but it also presents as many questions as it seems to answer, if not more.  One of the enduring puzzles in international relations deals with the relationship between powerful actors in the international system and weak actors; for many of our theories, this power asymmetry drives the stock of international behavior. Scholars and instructors alike often trace back the pivotal lesson of power asymmetry to Thucydides with the idea that the powerful do what they want and the weak suffer what they must.  This is the realist lesson Continue reading