Wartime Experiences of Civic Leaders: Legacies of Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa
Recipient of the Ralph Bunche Best Graduate Student Paper - 2018, from the African Politics Conference Group, an organized section of the American Political Science Association. Pre-Analysis Plan.
International donors funnel significant aid to local civil society organizations to facilitate post-conflict democratization, but research fails to consider how war shapes the attitudes and behaviors of organization leadership. I develop a theory in which wartime fear generated by rebel takeover produces egocentricism and discrimination among civil society leaders. Egocentricism emerges because fear leads civil society leaders to keep resources for themselves. Discrimination emerges because rebel takeover exacerbates existing cleavages, inducing civil society leaders to discriminate against outgroups. To test this theory, I leverage geographic variation in rebel control within Côte d’Ivoire through interviews, surveys, and lab-in-the-field games. I find that civil society leaders who lived under rebel control are more egocentric and more discriminatory than their counterparts under continuous government control. These findings complicate our expectations for post-conflict democratization by providing greater understanding of the impact of relying on war-traumatized civil society leaders.
Enumerator Experiences in Survey Data Collection in Sub-Saharan Africa, with Martha Wilfahrt
Recent years have seen a rapid expansion in the number of public opinion surveys being run in sub-Saharan Africa by academic researchers (Lupu and Michelitch 2018). Yet while researchers are attuned to the possible biases induced in the context of a survey’s implementation, this work has kept its focus almost uniformly on the survey respondent. This paper examines the role of the survey enumerator as a critical actor in the data collection process, with a particular focus on enumerators working in post-conflict settings. We present the results from a survey of approximately 200 enumerators in Cote d’Ivoire to address four issues: (i) the challenges enumerators face when working in post-conflict settings; (ii) the strategies employed to solve those challenges in the field; and with (iii) the impact on data quality as well as (iv) enumerator’s own safety and ethical protection. The project builds on a diffuse set of insights on the role of local research partners as brokers (Lewis and Mosse 2006). We shed light on how academic research in violent political settings pose unique security concerns for enumerators. Our findings show that enumerators are active agents who make choices in the field to overcome often challenging circumstances.
Partisanship, Gender, and the Structure of Politician Networks in Zambia with Leonardo Arriola, Danny Choi, Melanie Phillips, and Lise Rakner
Although women have entered government in African countries at an unprecedented rate over the past three decades, it remains unknown to what extent they have acquired the influence necessary to shape policymaking. Are women able to exercise personal influence to the same degree or in the same ways as their male counterparts? We argue that women tend to be less influential than men due to the structure of their personal networks with other politicians. Prior scholarship on African politics has demonstrated that political outcomes depend on the personal ties that connect politicians to one other. Based on a novel network survey among Zambian candidates, we demonstrate that women tend to be peripherally situated within networks. We find that women are systematically less likely to be connected to others in social or work networks among politicians. We also demonstrate that, while having fewer connections than men, women have connections with more important people in both social and work networks.
"Randomized Controlled Trials: Thinking Through Identity and Positionality." (Guest editor with Kristin Michelitch). PS: Political Science & Politics.
Civic Education Messaging Effects in Violent Contexts, with Leonardo Arriola, Aila Matanock, Manuela Travaglianti.
Pre-Analysis Plan. This paper examines whether democracy promotion programs such as civic education can affect citizens’ attitudes toward democracy, elections, and even violence in countries where multiparty competition has been associated with violent instability. We studied this question in Côte d’Ivoire, where the 2010 election renewed a devastating civil war. In the run-up to the 2015 presidential election, we randomized a civic education program in neighborhoods of Abidjan, the country’s de facto capital. Contrary to expectations, we find that exposure to civic education induced voters to adopt more negative views of the electoral process, including likelihood of fraud, as well as to express greater fear of violence during the election. Exposure to civic education also provoked voters to report support for the use of political violence. We theorize that these citizens may be more likely to express or engage in political discussion due to the treatment, but the mechanisms merit further investigation.
Civic Education in Violent Elections: Evidence from Côte d'Ivoire's 2015 Election, with Leonardo Arriola, Aila Matanock, Manuela Travaglianti.
Pre-Analysis Plan. Peace messaging is considered a crucial aspect of civic education in countries experiencing electoral violence. However, relatively little is known about whether such messaging influences citizen attitudes and behaviors. We examine how individuals respond to messages intended to increase participation in elections and lower support for violence through a survey experiment in Côte d’Ivoire. We randomized exposure to radio treatments that varied the content of the message (peace or rights), the messenger’s identity, and the salience of violence. We find that voters primed to think of violence are more likely to fear voting regardless of which message they receive. Voters respond positively to both peace and rights messages by decreasing support for electoral violence. Messages are particularly effective when delivered by the electoral commission rather than an NGO or the United Nations. We find heterogenous effects by ethnicity: swing and opposition groups are most likely to reduce support for violence.
Women’s Income and Abortion Policy Preferences: Evidence from Zambian Politicians, with Leonardo Arriola, Danny Choi, Melanie Phillips, and Lise Rakner
Restrictions on access to legal abortion have created a public health crisis in many countries. But men and women policymakers often disagree on the expansion of reproductive rights. While most women policymakers are expected to support expanding abortion access, we argue that higher income reduces women politicians' support for liberalization because their wealth enables them to sidestep the restrictions created by abortion laws. We corroborate this expectation through a survey experiment conducted among more than 600 politicians in Zambia, a country with high rates of maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion. We show that only women politicians with lower incomes will increase their support for liberalization once exposed to the mortality costs of abortion restrictions. We further show that this effect is conditioned by income rather than education or marital status. Our findings underscore how income inequalities influence the substantive representation offered by women politicians.
Democratization by NGOs in Africa: Partisan Perceptions and Ethnic Inequities in Post-Conflict Civil Society
In the aftermath of conflict, can the state control dissent and the redistribution of resources within civil society? What are the possible consequences for local citizens and democracy-building? International donors funnel significant amounts of aid to local NGOs for democracy-promotion activities in countries transitioning from war to democracy. However, the ability of these organizations to contribute to democracy is conditioned by the context in which they emerge. In this article, I argue the state can subtly control who can register for NGOs, prioritizing organizations led by co-ethnics and co-partisans of the president. A possible consequence of this action is perceptions of partisanship among opposition supporters in the population, who do not feel represented by these organizations. To support this argument, I examine the civil society sector in Cote d’Ivoire. Using name-based classification of NGO registration, I find that since the current president’s election, his coethnics are twice as likely to start an organization than other groups. I then show. using original survey data, that citizens who support the current president are less likely to view NGOs as partisan and are more likely to have favorable opinions of these organizations. In contrast, those who do not support the regime feel that they are not represented by these organizations. Taken together, these findings have far-reaching consequences for post-conflict democratization: supporting civil society may reinforce existing cleavages and opposition supporters may withdraw from the democracy-promoting activities carried out by these organizations.
PROJECTS Social Media and Electoral Violence: Evidence from Côte d'Ivoire
Human Security, Violence and Trauma: Psychological Responses and Political Impacts of Conflict, with Biz Herman
Documenting Electoral Violence: Assessing Tradeoffs in Data Collection Methodologies, with Leonardo Arriola, Arsène Brice Bado, Allison Grossman, and Aila M. Matanock
Evaluating the consequences of securitized and non-securitized COVID-19 mitigation policies: Evidence from Guinea, with Leonardo Arriola and Allison Grossman