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Interviews with Political Scientists about their New Books
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    • Science

Interviews with Political Scientists about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/political-science

    Erik Jones, "European Studies: Past, Present, and Future" (Agenda, 2020)

    Erik Jones, "European Studies: Past, Present, and Future" (Agenda, 2020)

    “It is no secret that European studies has suffered a setback in the academy”, write William Collins Donahue and Martin Kagel in their contribution to European Studies: Past, Present and Future (Agenda Publishing, 2020).
    In the US, area studies have waned, funding streams have dried up and students are questioning what job being a “Europeanist” will get them. In the UK, as Professor Helen Drake has written, “European Studies has all but disappeared from British university curricula”.
    Why? What can be done? Does the setback in the discipline mirror the EU’s own crises over the past decade?
    For this first book in the Council for European Studies’ Understanding Europe series, Erik Jones assembled 55 Europeanists to write 45 answers to these questions and to think aloud about the future of the discipline and the continent.
    Erik Jones is the Director of European and Eurasian Studies and Professor of European Studies and International Political Economy at the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of the Johns Hopkins University.
    *The author's own book recommendations are Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze (Allen Lane, 2018) and The Once and Future King by T. H. White (Penguin, 2016 - first published in 1958).
    Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Global Advisors.
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    Ora Szekely, et al., "Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars" (Georgetown UP, 2019)

    Ora Szekely, et al., "Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars" (Georgetown UP, 2019)

    Today I talked to Ora Szekely about Insurgent Women: Female Combatants in Civil Wars (Georgetown UP, 2019), which she co-edited with Jessica Trisko Darden and Alexis Henshaw.
    Why do women go to war in non-state armed groups? Despite the reality that female combatants exist the world over, we still know relatively little about who these women are, what motivates them to take up arms, how they are utilized by armed groups, and what happens to them when war ends. Through a comparative analysis of women's participation in different non-state armed groups, Insurgent Women addresses women's involvement in civil war at three different points in the conflict lifecycle: recruitment, conflict participation, and conflict resolution. By examining the ongoing civil war in Ukraine, the conflicts in the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and the civil war in Colombia, the authors find that there is no single profile of a female combatant. Rather, women's roles in and motivations for joining insurgent groups vary. The practical and theoretical implications of Insurgent Women suggest that policymakers and scholars must pay more attention to the complex motivations and roles that female combatants play in waging war in order to secure peace. This is an accessible and timely work that will be a useful introduction to another side of contemporary conflict.
    Dilan Okcuoglu is post-doctoral fellow at American University.
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    Séverine Autesserre, "The Frontlines of Peace: An Insider's Guide to Changing the World" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Séverine Autesserre, "The Frontlines of Peace: An Insider's Guide to Changing the World" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    The word "peacebuilding" evokes a story we've all heard over and over: violence breaks out, foreign nations are scandalized, peacekeepers and million-dollar donors come rushing in, warring parties sign a peace agreement and, sadly, within months the situation is back to where it started--sometimes worse. But what strategies have worked to build lasting peace in conflict zones, particularly for ordinary citizens on the ground? And why should other ordinary citizens, thousands of miles away, care?
    In The Frontlines of Peace: An Insider's Guide to Changing the World (Oxford UP, 2021), Severine Autesserre, award-winning researcher and peacebuilder, examines the well-intentioned but inherently flawed peace industry. With examples drawn from across the globe, she reveals that peace can grow in the most unlikely circumstances. Contrary to what most politicians preach, building peace doesn't require billions in aid or massive international interventions. Real, lasting peace requires giving power to local citizens.
    The Frontlines of Peace tells the stories of the ordinary yet extraordinary individuals and organizations that are confronting violence in their communities effectively. One thing is clear: successful examples of peacebuilding around the world, in countries at war or at peace, have involved innovative grassroots initiatives led by local people, at times supported by foreigners, often employing methods shunned by the international elite. By narrating success stories of this kind, Autesserre shows the radical changes we must take in our approach if we hope to build lasting peace around us--whether we live in Congo, the United States, or elsewhere.
    Beth Windisch is a national security practitioner.
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    Jillian C. York, "Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism" (Verso Book, 2021)

    Jillian C. York, "Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism" (Verso Book, 2021)

    What is the impact of surveillance capitalism on our right to free speech? The Internet once promised to be a place of extraordinary freedom beyond the control of money or politics, but today corporations and platforms exercise more control over our ability to access information and share knowledge to a greater extent than any state. From the online calls to arms in the thick of the Arab Spring to the contemporary front line of misinformation, Jillian York charts the war over our digital rights. She looks at both how the big corporations have become unaccountable censors, and the devastating impact it has had on those who have been censored.
    In Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism (Verso Book, 2021), leading campaigner Jillian York, looks at how our rights have become increasingly undermined by the major corporations desire to harvest our personal data and turn it into profit. She also looks at how governments have used the same technology to monitor citizens and threatened our ability to communicate. As a result our daily lives, and private thoughts, are being policed in an unprecedented manner. Who decides the difference between political debate and hate speech? How does this impact on our identity, our ability to create communities and to protest? Who regulates the censors? In response to this threat to our democracy, York proposes a user-powered movement against the platforms that demands change and a new form of ownership over our own data.
    Marci Mazzarotto is an Assistant Professor of Digital Communication at Georgian Court University in New Jersey. Her research interests center on the interdisciplinary intersection of academic theory and artistic practice with a focus on film and television studies.
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    Heath Brown, "Homeschooling the Right: How Conservative Education Activism Erodes the State" (Columbia UP, 2021)

    Heath Brown, "Homeschooling the Right: How Conservative Education Activism Erodes the State" (Columbia UP, 2021)

    Political Scientist Heath Brown’s new book, Homeschooling the Right: How Conservative Education Activism Erodes the State (Columbia UP, 2021) is an excellent overview of the homeschooling movement in the United States, but it is much more than an exploration of that movement, since it centers on the way that this movement developed into a parallel political structure within states and localities with substantial capacity to influence policy and politics. Brown notes that initially the homeschool movement was ideologically diverse, but that over the past forty years it has become much more directly connected to conservative politics and the Religious Right. As parents chose to opt out of public education and provide education for their children at home, an entire industry grew up around this undertaking, providing, in the pre-internet days, support, content, approaches, and the means to help parents negotiate this at home. Along the way, as this movement continued to grow and expand, even though it was composed of only a fraction of school-age children, it also became a politically vocal movement, with lobbyists who worked on behalf of homeschoolers to keep government intrusion and regulation at bay. 
    These threads came together and helped to mobilize the members of the homeschool movement. Brown argues that the ideology and the political dimensions of the homeschool movement ultimately migrated over to the Tea Party Movement that takes root in the first decade of the 21st century, since the homeschool ideas are pulling together conservative libertarianism in the anti-government, anti-regulatory vein, and the reintegration of Christian beliefs within academic settings. As we discussed the book, Brown noted that every Republican presidential candidate over the past two decades has paid attention to the homeschool movement, and that President George W. Bush made a point of thanking the homeschool parents and children who had worked so diligently on his campaign and with the GOP Get Out The Vote efforts, since the homeschool students were able to fold these experiences into their curriculum and assignments. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which developed to provide legal support for home school advocates across the states, had initially become a key player in conservative politics, but has now refocused much more narrowly, specifically on homeschool policy. 
    Homeschooling the Right also gets at the complicated position of the homeschool movement within a democracy, since the movement itself is a way of removing the individual or the family from the public sphere. What is ironic, and important to understand, as Brown notes, is that this political movement has a louder, heightened political voice because of the capacity to mobilize many of its adherents, thus it is both actively inside and outside the political sphere.
    This is a wonderfully written book and so accessible to readers—and it will be of interest to many across a broad spectrum of disciplines.
    Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.
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    C. G. Faricy and C. Ellis, "The Other Side of the Coin: Public Opinion toward Social Tax Expenditures" (Russell Sage Foundation, 2021)

    C. G. Faricy and C. Ellis, "The Other Side of the Coin: Public Opinion toward Social Tax Expenditures" (Russell Sage Foundation, 2021)

    In The Other Side of the Coin: Public Opinion toward Social Tax Expenditures (Russell Sage Foundation, 2021), political scientists Christopher Ellis and Christopher Faricy examine public opinion towards social tax expenditures—the other side of the American social welfare state—and their potential to expand support for such social investment. Tax expenditures seek to accomplish many of the goals of direct government expenditures, but they distribute money indirectly, through tax refunds or reductions in taxable income, rather than direct payments on goods and services or benefits. They tend to privilege market-based solutions to social problems such as employer-based tax subsidies for purchasing health insurance versus government-provided health insurance. 
    Drawing on nationally representative surveys and survey experiments, Ellis and Faricy show that social welfare policies designed as tax expenditures, as opposed to direct spending on social welfare programs, are widely popular with the general public. Contrary to previous research suggesting that recipients of these subsidies are often unaware of indirect government aid—sometimes called “the hidden welfare state”—Ellis and Faricy find that citizens are well aware of them and act in their economic self-interest in supporting tax breaks for social welfare purposes. The authors find that many people view the beneficiaries of social tax expenditures to be more deserving of government aid than recipients of direct public social programs, indicating that how government benefits are delivered affects people’s views of recipients’ worthiness. Importantly, tax expenditures are more likely to appeal to citizens with anti-government attitudes, low levels of trust in government, or racial prejudices. As a result, social spending conducted through the tax code is likely to be far more popular than direct government spending on public programs that have the same goals. The first empirical examination of the broad popularity of tax expenditures, The Other Side of the Coin provides compelling insights into constructing a politically feasible—and potentially bipartisan—way to expand the scope of the American welfare state.
    Stephen Pimpare is director of the Public Service & Nonprofit Leadership program and Faculty Fellow at the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.
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