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Students on the Market

The following Ph.D. candidates are on the job market for the 2015-2016 year:

Fred Batista

  • frederico.b.pereira@vanderbilt.edu
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • www.fred-batista.com
  • Major fields of Study: Comparative Politics and Political Methodology fred
  • Dissertation Title: Politics as a Man's Game? Women's Representation, Gender Stereotypes, and Cognitive Engagement in Politics
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2016
  • Dissertation Abstract: My research interests address questions that lie at the intersections of public opinion, comparative politics, gender, and methodology. I investigate how beliefs about the roles of men and women in politics affect how individuals think about politics more broadly, and how those views affect the ways in which they vote and evaluate politicians. I explore these questions from a comparative perspective, by looking at how different contexts affect the relationships between gender stereotypes and other political phenomena. My research is grounded in the view that attitudes towards men and women in society constitute an important part of the core of people’s opinions and behaviors in different spheres of life, and particularly in politics. I have collected original experimental and survey data in Brazil, Belize, Guatemala, Panama, and the U.S., in order to test different theories I develop in my research. Other ongoing and future projects examine methodological questions in the comparative study of public opinion, particularly with regard to the measurement of political knowledge in cross-national surveys.
  • Advisor(s): Cindy D. Kam and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister

Mollie Cohen

  • mollie.j.cohen@vanderbilt.edu
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • www.molliecohen.com
  • Major fields of Study: Comparative Politics and Political Methodology mollie
  • Dissertation Title: The Causes and Representative Consequences of Invalid Voting in Latin America
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2016
  • Dissertation Abstract: Across the Latin American region, invalid votes regularly “win” over candidates from smaller political parties. Yet, political scientists know very little about the factors that compel individuals to assume the costs of turning out to vote but then choose not to select a candidate, and to what political effect. My dissertation addresses each of these issues in turn. First, I develop a theoretical framework that encompasses various attitudes that might motivate an individual to cast an invalid vote as a means to protest. On average and contrary to existing findings, I find that most invalid votes in Latin American presidential elections are cast as a protest signal; however, these ballots reflect disappointment with specific policy outcomes or with a particular slate of candidate offerings rather than with democracy itself. Second, I argue that levels of protest voting respond to the dynamic nature of political competition--in particular, to the number of candidates running and the polarization of the political space. Using electoral data from presidential elections in 18 Latin American countries from 1993 to 2014, I find that when the number of candidates is moderate or low and polarization is high, invalid voting decreases as decision-making becomes easier. But, when polarization is high and the number of candidates competing increases, invalid voting also increases. Third, I address the question of whether and how elites respond to invalid voting in the “most likely” Peruvian case. Drawing on interviews with subnational candidates and sitting legislators I find that on average, political elites are uninformed about levels of invalid voting, and do not take null voters’ preferences into consideration on the campaign trail. Furthermore, analysis of constituency level electoral data from Peru shows that new candidate entry is not more likely in high invalid vote districts. In other words, even in the most likely Peruvian case, there is a gap between voter intention and elite response.
  • Advisor(s): Elizabeth J. Zechmeister

Matthew DiLorenzo

  • matthew.d.dilorenzo@Vanderbilt.Edu
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • http://mdilorenzo.github.io/ 
  • Major fields of Study: International Relations and Political Methodology matthew
  • Dissertation Title: Essays on Institutions, Conflict, and Aid 
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2016
  • Dissertation Abstract: My dissertation consists of three papers that address the political implications of humanitarian crises and of international efforts to address those crises.  The first paper develops and tests a theory of the relationship between natural disasters, leader survival, and international conflict. I show that leaders of large winning coalition systems who face irregular removal from office become more likely to initiate international conflicts as deaths from disasters increase. This chapter refines existing theories of leader survival and international conflict in arguing that not all threats to survival matter for international conflict behavior.  Given the findings of the first chapter, my second dissertation paper considers how to increase the supply of international disaster relief.  I use a set of formal models and a simulation to compare how the rules governing donor contributions to an aid organization -- namely, whether donors are allowed to earmark their contributions or not -- affect the supply of international disaster relief and outcomes for crisis victims. I show theoretically that relative to a policy of banning earmarking, allowing partial earmarking both increases donors' contributions and improves outcomes in recipient countries. In the third paper, I consider how bypassing recipient governments by delivering international relief through NGOs and multilateral organizations affects autocratic survival. Scholars and policymakers have pointed to this as a way that donors can give aid without bolstering autocratic regimes. I build on a model of revolution to show that bypass aid can help an autocrat retain power by reducing the amount of concessions needed to deter revolution. Using multiple data sources -- including an original data set of international aid scandals that I use in an instrumental variables analysis --  I find that autocratic countries experience less domestic unrest as the proportion of aid delivered through NGOs and multilateral organizations increases.
  • Advisor(s): Brett Benson

Meri Long

  • meridith.t.long@vanderbilt.edu
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • http://www.merilong.com/
  • Major fields of Study: American Politics and Comparative Politics meri
  • Dissertation Title: Compassion in Red and Blue: The Politics of Who Cares about Whom 
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Spring 2016
  • Dissertation Abstract: My dissertation uses several different methods to examine the role of compassion in politics, both at the citizen and elite level.  I explore elite appeals to compassion through a content analysis of a selection of congressional and presidential speeches, finding that politicians often appeal to concern for others in need but that the parties differ widely in their use of these appeals.  I then use a sequence of experiments that reveal that compassionate rhetoric by elites activates individuals’ compassion.  I link these approaches with an analysis of several waves of the General Social Survey to understand how individuals connect compassion to their political preferences.  I find that proclivities toward compassion do not differ between partisans in the public but that partisan differences emerge in the effects of compassion.  I find that highly compassionate Democrats have more liberal views on issues for which Democratic elites have made compassion more relevant, as outlined in my content work, such as capital punishment and help for the poor.  Likewise, highly compassionate Republicans have more pro-life views, in accordance with the messages of compassion for unborn children by Republican elites.  Highly compassionate individuals of both parties are more charitable in the private sector, indicating that compassion has similar effects on partisans when it is not tied to politics.
  • Advisor(s): Marc Hetherington

Arturo Maldonado

  • arturo.maldonado@vanderbilt.edu
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • https://my.vanderbilt.edu/arturomaldonado
  • Major fields of Study: Comparative Politics and Political Methodology arturo
  • Dissertation Title: Beyond Turnout: The Origins and Behavioral Effects of Compulsory Voting in Latin America
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Fall 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.
  • Advisor(s): Mitchell A. Seligson and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister

 Daniel Zizumbo-Colunga

  • daniel.zizumbo-colunga@vanderbilt.edu
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • https://my.vanderbilt.edu/danielzizumbo
  • Major Fields of Study: Comparative Politics and Political Medanielthodology
  • Dissertation Title: Taking the Law into our Own Hands: The Joint Importance of Trust in the Law and in the Community
  • Dissertation Defense Date: Fall 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.
  • Advisor(s): Mitchell A. Seligson and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister
  •  

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