My book project, "Rethinking the Origins of Electoral Cleavages: How States Create Cleavages Through Policies," develops and tests a new theory that electoral cleavages can emerge when voters form new electoral coalitions in response to government policies. I argue that decisions like how to distribute resources and who can have social mobility politicize social identities when they divide society into winners and losers based on those same identities, thus creating strong incentives for voters to coordinate around the new grievances. When political entrepreneurs recognize the new emerging voter coalition, they begin to organize around it.
To control for reverse causality between government policies and policy preferences, I test the theory on rare cases in which government policies were not instrumentally initiated by elites in power or entrepreneurs in society in order to craft a new cleavage. I substantiate the theory using both process-tracing based on sources in multiple languages and statistical analysis of new datasets with fine-grained election returns. My theory gains additional support from analyzing failed attempts by political entrepreneurs to create new cleavages and from comparing between the processes of cleavage formation in Prussia, Baden, Bavaria, and Belgium in the 19th and 20th century.
Other Research In Progress
"Government Policies and Electoral Cleavages: Cleavage Formation, Decline, and Re-Emergence in Prussia"
"How Inexperienced Politicians Gain Recognition: Evidence from 19th Century Belgium"
"Did Public Opinion Turn Against the Welfare State"? (with Noam Lupu)
"Voting Behavior in Imperial Germany and the Weimar Republic" (with Carles Boix and Ingrid Mauerer)
"German MPs: Social Bases and Social Mobility in the German Empire and the Weimar Republic" (with Carles Boix)
My work examines how identity motivates the behavior of individuals and ultimately shapes macro level outcomes. In the past, I examined this question together with colleagues in the context of violent conflicts.
"Group Segregation and Urban Violence" (with Ravi Bhavnani, Karsten Donnay, Dan Miodownik, and Dirk Helbing), American Journal of Political Science 58: 226-45 (2014).
Winner of the AJPS Best Article Award 2014
"Introduction" (with Dan Miodownik, Oren Barak, and Omer Yair), In Nonstate Actors in Intrastate Conflicts, edited by Dan Miodownik and Oren Barak. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press (2013).