Pro-Sociality of Civil Society Leaders: Legacies of Rebel Control 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 Violent Research Environments, with Martha Wilfahrt
Understanding the political and social effects of violence in local populations through public opinion surveys has become increasingly common across the globe. Yet while researchers are attuned to possible challenges induced during survey implementation, this work has focused almost uniformly on the respondent. This paper considers the experiences of survey enumerators as critical actors for data collection in violent research settings. We present the results from a survey of 245 enumerators in Cote d’Ivoire to show that their exposure to personal violence conditions the challenges they face and the compromises they make to collect data. Contrary to expectation, we find that individual enumerator experience with violence while collecting data is more consequential for the process than being an outsider in the communities they work or surveying violence-affected participants. We shed light on how academic research in violent political settings poses unique security concerns for enumerators, with ramifications for data integrity.
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.
Democratization by NGOs in Africa: Ethnic Favoritism in Post-Conflict Civil Society
This paper tests whether and how ethnic favoritism plays out within the civil society sector in post-conflict settings. Applying name-based ethnicity classification derived from the census to non-governmental organization (NGO) registration from Côte d’Ivoire (2000-2016), this paper finds that there is disproportionate representation of leaders from ethnic groups aligned with the current president after he was elected, particularly among organizations that purport to contribute to democracy and peace. Drawing from interviews, I provide support that the state practices discretion in who receives key registration documents, while NGO leaders feel discriminated against during the process due to their ethnicity. This paper shows that even within ostensibly neutral sectors such as civil society, national leaders can ensure their preferred groups receive immediate access to aid, potentially affecting the unbiased distribution of crucial public goods, shaping representation in the public sphere, and determining who cultivates democratic culture in post-conflict settings.
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.
Trauma Exposure vs. Trauma Response: A Review of the Impact of Violence on Post-Conflict Outcomes, with Biz Herman
This paper presents a systematic review of the literature on violence and its consequences in post-conflict and forced migration settings. Exposure to war and forced migration is commonly conceptualized as a binary experience -- either an individual is exposed to it or is not. Studies that use this conceptualization commonly find that exposure to violence during conflict can increase social capital and willingness to reconcile with adversaries. In contrast, studies that examine individual-level mental health consequences of exposure to trauma and violence, including the development of PTSD, depression, and anxiety, commonly find that individuals who present adverse responses following traumatic events are less supportive of peace and reconciliation efforts. Previous research has revealed significant individual variation in response to traumatic events, ranging from post-traumatic symptomology (PTSD, emotional dysregulation, depression and anxiety), to no response, to exceeding pre-trauma exposure functioning. Using exposure to violence as the primary explanatory factor leads to conclusions that do not capture the true impact of trauma and violence on individual behavior and attitudes. In this review, we examine how different conceptualizations of exposure to violence and forced migration in conflict-affected populations produce consistent or disparate results across the 193 papers included in the review. We examine how findings vary depending on case selection, measurements used, identification strategy, and outcomes observed. This paper provides a comprehensive look at the state of this emerging area of study, and offers paths forward in the conceptualization and measurement of violence and trauma in studies seeking to better understand post-conflict dynamics in conflict-affected populations.
PROJECTS Social Media and Electoral Violence: Evidence from Côte d'Ivoire
Documenting Electoral Violence: Assessing Tradeoffs in Data Collection Methodologies, with Leonardo Arriola, Arsène Brice Bado, Allison Grossman, and Aila M. Matanock. Pre-Analysis Plan
Evaluating the Consequences of Securitized and Non-securitized COVID-19 Mitigation Policies: Evidence from Guinea, with Leonardo Arriola and Allison Grossman.