Complicit states and the governing strategy of privilege violence: When weakness is not the problem

With Rachel Kleinfeld. Annual Review of Political Science 21 (2018): 215-238.

This article seeks to explain why some high-capacity democracies have high levels of internal violence. These regimes present a puzzle: Why are bureaucratically capable states that ostensibly answer to voters failing to provide security? Challenging the “weak states” paradigm, we argue that states with high capacity and significant violence within marginalized populations exhibit a governance pattern in which governing factions deliberately weaken security services and collude with non-state violent actors to maintain power and ensure extreme levels of privilege and impunity. Although these states do not feature ideal-type institutions, they are not weak. Instead, economic and political elites are complicit in enforcing a system of material inequality and uneven democratic incorporation maintained by violence. As politicized security agencies become incapacitated and repressive, citizens turn to non-state security providers for protection, from private firms to criminals and insurgents, increasing social violence and obscuring the state origins of what we term privilege violence.

The shot, the message, and the messenger: COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in Latin America

with Sarah Z. Daly, John Marshall, Oscar Pocasangre, Julian Gerez, and Pablo Argote Tironi). Forthcoming at npj Vaccines.

Herd immunity by mass vaccination offers the potential to substantially limit the continuing spread of COVID-19, but high levels of vaccine hesitancy threaten this goal. In a cross-country analysis of vaccine hesitant respondents across Latin America in January 2021, we experimentally tested how five features of mass vaccination campaigns---the vaccine’s producer, efficacy, endorser, distributor, and current population uptake rate---shifted willingness to take a COVID-19 vaccine. We find that citizens preferred Western-produced vaccines, but were highly influenced by information about factual efficacy. Vaccine hesitant individuals responded to vaccine messengers with medical expertise over political, religious, or media elite endorsements. Citizen trust in foreign governments, domestic leaders, and state institutions moderated the effects of the campaign features on vaccine acceptance. These findings can help inform the design of unfolding mass inoculation campaigns.

Teaching the Hidden Curriculum in Political Science

With Colleen Wood. Accepted at PS: Political Science & Politics.

The ‘hidden curriculum’ in academia represents a set of informal norms and rules, expectations, and skills which inform our “ways of doing” academic practice (Calarco 2020). In this paper, we suggest that relying on informal networks to provide access to instruction in these skills can reinforce pre-existing inequalities in the discipline. Drawing on a pilot program we developed and implemented in our own department, we provide a model for formalizing instruction and equalizing access to training in these professionalizing skills. Drawing on the literature on inclusive pedagogy, as well as our own implementation experience, we advance four recommendations towards scaling and transporting instruction in the `hidden curriculum' to other departments.

Working Papers

Messaging interventions that increase COVID-19 vaccine willingness in Latin America

with Sarah Z. Daly, John Marshall, Oscar Pocasangre, Julian Gerez, and Pablo Argote Tironi. R&R at PLOS ONE.

Governments are now distributing safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. Once vaccines are widely available, attaining herd immunity will depend on individuals choosing to vaccinate---and doing so quickly enough to outpace mutations. However, our online surveys from January 2021 in six Latin American countries document that only 59% of respondents would get vaccinated and the average individual would wait 4.3 months before vaccinating. Focusing on hesitant respondents, we then experimentally assess messages designed to counteract informational deficiencies and collective action problems that may drive hesitancy. Several actionable findings emerge. First, basic vaccine information persuades around 8% of hesitant individuals to become willing to vaccinate and reduces their intention to wait before vaccinating by 0.4 months. Second, priming the social approval benefits of vaccination similarly increases vaccine willingness, and outperforms priming economic or altruistic benefits of vaccination. Third, individuals are more likely to vaccinate if they believe herd immunity will be achieved.

Vaccine Diplomacy: How Covid-19 Vaccine Distribution Increases Trust in Foreign Governments in Latin America

with Sarah Z. Daly, John Marshall, Oscar Pocasangre, and Julian Gerez. Under Review.

The distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has profound implications for global health. Given the scarcity of vaccines in the Global South, vaccine distribution has created opportunities for vaccine developers---including China, India, Russia, the UK, and the US---to improve their reputations in emerging markets. Leveraging panel surveys conducted in January and May of 2021, we evaluate whether ``vaccine diplomacy'' affects trust in foreign governments among vaccine-hesitant respondents in six Latin American countries. We find that personally receiving a vaccine durably increased trust in the government of the country where that vaccine was developed. Furthermore, providing information about the aggregate distribution of vaccines within a respondent's country also increased trust in the governments of the countries where more vaccines were developed. These increases in trust---which are most pronounced for China---appear to reflect perceptions of a common good motivation. Vaccine distribution may then cultivate soft power that could facilitate further economic or political integration.

Turf war or truce: Gun control and bargaining among criminal gangs

With Sarah Z. Daly.

Bloody turf wars and cycles of violent retribution dominate reports on the relationships among gangs. However, these organized criminal groups also form truces that allow them to peacefully co-exist within their delimited territories. This paper adopts bargaining theory and proposes that gangs escalate violence following shocks to their relative coercive capacity. This uptick in violence proves more likely when the gangs are more factionalized and less rooted in their neighborhoods. Our empirical strategy leverages one particular shock – access to firearms following a Wisconsin gun control repeal – to understand how changes in this coercive input upset the existing balance of power among Chicago’s street gangs and shaped homicidal violence in the urban arena. This paper has implications for scholarship on bargaining and war, organized crime, and arms control.

Security and Non-State Governance: Evidence from Rural Mexico.

New abstract coming soon.

In Progress

Forging Exclusive Property Rights in the Postbellum South.

With Jorge Mangonnet.

Uprooting the Gang: Bargaining, Turf War, and Truce among Organized Criminal Groups.

With Sarah Z. Daly.