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Students on the Market
The following Ph.D. candidates are on the job market for the 2014-2015 year:
- Major fields of Study: Comparative Politics and Political Methodology
- Dissertation Title: Beyond Turnout: The Origins and Behavioral Effects of Compulsory Voting in Latin America
- Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2015
- Dissertation Abstract: Compulsory voting is a trademark in Latin America. This region has more countries implemented it and more citizens under this electoral rule than any other region in the world. Going beyond its direct effect of increasing turnout, this dissertation answers three questions: (1) how legislators decided to implement compulsory voting in some Latin American countries and why they did not in others; (2) how laws governing whether voting is compulsory change the weight of each constituent element of the decision to go to the polls; and (3) taking insights from the literature on psychology about the relationship between incentives and the intrinsic motivation to perform an activity, how compulsory voting, with its related threat of punishment for non-compliance, undermines citizens’ sense of civic duty. Generally speaking, I find that a convincing relationship emerges between rules and institutions and citizens’ political behavior tendencies. My dissertation suggests that those who see compulsory voting as a remedy for low levels of turnout have not sufficiently considered its side effects. A key finding in my dissertation is that enforced compulsory voting undermines citizens’ intrinsic motivation to turn out to vote, which I operationalize as civic duty. A declining motivation in compulsory voting systems is unwanted because it may mask a faulty democracy as a healthy one. As a result, high levels of electoral participation would not indicate engaged citizens, but coerced citizens, who, according to these findings, are more likely to be disengaged about the electoral process and the democratic system.
- Advisors: Mitchell A. Seligson and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister
- Major Fields of Study: Comparative Politics and Political Methodology
- Dissertation Title: Taking the Law into our Own Hands: The Joint Importance of Trust in the Law and in the Community
- Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2015
- Dissertation Abstract: In recent years, a number of communities in Mexico and other Latin American countries have created vigilante organizations in order to fight crime directly. Why do citizens faced with security concerns turn to their neighbors to defend themselves from crime? I propose that social capital and distrust in the law enforcement interact as determinants of vigilante justice (understood as extralegal collective law enforcement). That is, citizens are more likely to invest their social capital to defend themselves from crime when they distrust the law enforcement. In the first empirical chapter I find, in a series of in-depth interviews, that the erosion of the legitimacy of the local authorities together with the strength of the citizen-run organizations in Cherán (State of Michoacán, Mexico) played an important role in the emergence and consolidation of the vigilante movement that emerged in early 2011. In the second empirical chapter I test my hypothesis using two large crime victimization surveys in Mexico. I find that citizens' trust in their neighbors and distrust in the police interact to determine their likelihood of engaging in vigilante justice. In the third and final chapter I conduct two in-the-field laboratory experiments to test the causal logic of my theory, one based in vignettes and a second one using a game set-up. I find that perceived trust in the community and perceived distrust in the law enforcement interact to cause an increase in the likelihood of supporting and engaging in vigilante justice. My research has been supported by Mexico's National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT), Vanderbilt University's Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Other research I have developed on related topics has been published in Comparative Political Studies and Política y Gobierno.
- Advisors: Elizabeth J. Zechmeister and Mitchell A. Seligson