My Current Working Papers:

Authoritarians’ Conceptions of Democracy

Currently Solo Authorship


Authoritarians have long been considered the vanguard of anti-democratic attitudes. This is, perhaps, unsurprising since the term “authoritarian” was a substitute for “fascistic” and “anti-democratic”. Since the initial studies of authoritarianism in the early part of the twentieth century, the concept has evolved to meet theoretical and empirical challenges to its original formulation(s). An authoritarian predisposition, a recent reconceptualization of authoritarianism, however, does not necessarily imply a permanent collection of anti-democratic attitudes. This paper is an exploration of how those possessing differing levels of authoritarianism conceive of democracy and whether authoritarians, all else equal, entertain less democratic views than non-authoritarians.

Full abstracts for all working papers are here

Differences in Conceptions of Democracy across Left-Right Identification

Currently Solo Authorship


Research and theory on the meaning of democracy indicate that the concept has the potential to assimilate and reflect a host of social and political ideas, of personal interests and pragmatic responses, of values and normative commitments. Noting that Left-Right identification possesses the same potential, this paper posits and tests the hypothesis that Left-Right identification can serve to predict variations in how people conceive of democracy. However, the strength of this relationship is expected to be conditional whether a country has a tradition of utilizing Left-Right terminology in political discourse, a trait which arguably correlates with the duration a country has been liberal-democratic. Descriptive and multilevel regression analyses of data from 42,237 individuals in 45 countries (dividing Germany into east and west) indicate that Left-Right identification is predictive of conceptions of democracy, conditional on the duration a country has been liberal-democratic. These findings imply that our political ideologies shape not only our policy preferences but also our views on what democracy is or is not and how we interact with and respond to institutions that claim to be democratic.

Full abstracts for all working papers are here

Authoritarianism, Nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiment in the European Union

Currently Solo Authorship


Authoritarians and exclusive-nationalists, for divergent reasons, disdain cultural and ethnic diversity. When exposed to such diversity, these individuals tend to become more intolerant of and punitive toward those they perceive to be different. This article examines this thesis in reference to European integration. The European Union blurs the boundaries of national sovereignty and threatens the imagined homogeneity and unity of individual nationalities for those who subscribe to nationalistic myths. Authoritarians and exclusive-nationalists in more integrated countries should therefore demonstrate more negative attitudes toward immigrants relative to the rest of society. Multilevel analyses of data from the 2008 European Values Survey support these predictions.

Full abstracts for all working papers are here

The Clarification of Political Ideology

Currently Solo Authorship


The present definition of political ideology confounds the concept itself with political sophistication resulting in the erroneous conclusion that the public is largely non-ideological. A reconsideration of the definition of political ideology in light of the development of the term over the past two centuries leads to an historically-grounded and focused definition that parses out the confounding influence of political sophistication and allows us to conclude that while mass publics may not be the most ideologically sophisticated group in societies, they do possess an ideology. The current accepted definition of political ideology allows quantitative researchers to dismiss less ideologically sophisticated individuals as “noise”; the definition suggested here pushes social scientists to develop a measure that allows us to determine the political ideology of even ideologically unsophisticated individuals.

Full abstracts for all working papers are here

Vote Preference and Conceptions of Democracy in the United States

With: Judd Thornton


As a concept, democracy is abstract and often murky. This is apparent in both the routine debates among scholars and in the vast variety of conceptions held in the minds of publics from around the globe. Within democracies, political parties often define, and even name, themselves by reference to a particular understanding of democracy, whether Christian democracy, liberal democracy, social democracy or some other variation. This paper focuses on this partisan division in understanding democracy. Specifically, we look at how supporters of the two main parties in the United States, the Republicans and the Democrats, conceive of democracy and whether there is systematic variation in conceptions. Examining the responses of American participants to the 2005-2008 World Values Survey, we find that Republicans and Democrats demonstrate significant differences on a number of aspects of democracy and that these differences can predict vote intention. Democrats are more likely to understand democracy as a form of government that promotes civil liberties and the redistribution of wealth to protect the vulnerable. Republicans focus more on free elections, religious interpretation of laws, and severe punishment of criminals when thinking of democracy. This research reinforces the idea that policy differences between the two main parties in the United States may derive from different understandings of the role of government in society.

Full abstracts for all working papers are here

A cross-national analysis of the evolution of Left-Right classification in Europe

Currently Solo Authorship


Modernization theory argues that as a society progresses toward self-expression values, political orientations will be increasingly related to new politics issues and decreasingly related to economic issue attitudes. Multi-level analyses of data from the 2008 European Values Survey indicates that while environmental issue attitudes do demonstrate a greater correspondence with Left-Right identification in countries with higher levels of self-expression values, economic issue attitudes also demonstrate a greater correspondence. Moral issues attitudes, on the other hand, demonstrate a decreased correspondence with Left-Right identification. While modernization theory accurately predicts that changes in societal values will correspond with changes in the issue content of political space, the more specific predictions of which issues will become and/or remain relevant need adjustment.

Full abstracts for all working papers are here

My Research Areas

Tolerance - Radical Right-Wing Populist Parties - Political Trust - Political Representation - Political Ideology - Personality - Party Preference - Nationalism - Modernization - Electoral Systems - Authoritarianism

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