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  1. Placement Record

Presenting the 2017-2018 Job Market Candidates

The University of Michigan's graduate program in Political Science is tremendously proud to present our 2017-2018 job market candidates.  Please contact the candidates, their advisors, or Ken Kollman, Placement Director, for further information.  

Hakeem Jefferson, American Politics (Race and Politics)

Dissertation Title: Punishment and the Politics of Respectability

Hakeem specializes in American political behavior and public opinion, with a more specific interest in race and politics. His dissertation project explores the surprisingly high levels of black support for punitive social policies that negatively affect in-group members. In response to this puzzle, Hakeem develops a measure of respectability politics and builds a theoretical argument that connects these concerns about the behavior and comportment of in-group members with support for policies ranging from sagging pants bans to the death penalty. In other on-going work, Hakeem unpacks racialized responses to officer-involved shootings to understand the psychological mechanisms that maintain the racial divide in this important domain of American life. He is also an award-winning instructor and is prepared to teach courses focused on American politics, race and politics, public opinion, political psychology, political communication, and research design.

Dissertation Committee:

Vince Hutchings, Ted Brader, Don Kinder, Rob Mickey, Allison Earl (Psychology)

Julia Kamin, American Politics

Dissertation Title: Social media and political information: Echo chamber or centrifuge?

Julia Kamin studies social media and polarization. In her dissertation she suggests that social media may not deepen polarization by creating information bubbles, as usually thought, but rather by promoting the spread of extreme information. She does so looking at both micro-level processes, using experiments and big data to understand social media users’ posting behavior, as well as the macro-level dynamics of diffusion, using agent based models. She plans to continue to focus her research on social media and polarization, but is broadly interested in the media and political psychology/behavior. In addition to those topics, she can also teach public opinion, American politics, and political networks.

Dissertation Committee:

Nicholas Valentino, Scott Page, Stuart Soroka and Ceren Budak

Geoff Lorenz, American Politics

Dissertation Title: Prioritized Interests: Why Congressional Committees Address Some Problems and Ignore Others

Geoff Lorenz’s dissertation (defended May 2017) is about how interest group lobbying coalitions influence Congress’s legislative agenda.  He focuses on Congress’s standing committees, which serve as a critical winnowing point in the legislative process. He finds that bills supported by coalitions of organizations representing diverse sets of industries, social causes, and other interests are robustly associated with bills receiving formal consideration, or markup, in committee. To do so, he uses new data on interest groups’ positions on over 5000 bills introduced in Congress between 2005 and 2014.

Dissertation Committee:

Richard Hall (chair), Michael Heaney, Ken Kollman, and Charles Shipan

Patrick Meehan, American Politics

Dissertation Title: The underutilized instrument: Social workers and elected office

Patrick’s research concerns the candidate emergence process, and specifically individual-level motivations for pursuing elected office. His dissertation makes three strong contributions to this literature, using 32 candidates for local office and party precinct delegates, as well as original survey data from 545 MSW students, 200 JD students, and 624 members of the general public. First, it introduces an instrumental theory of elected office that provides falsifiability traditional political ambition theory lacks. Second, it identifies and measures a new characteristic called political primacy that distinguishes between likely and unlikely candidates that previous research on this topic has lacked. Finally, it introduces a method of measurement that specifies which barriers to running represent the greatest obstacle for individuals that previous research has not measured directly. His research has implications for how motivations for elected office are understood, particularly within and between genders, and how individuals can be recruited to run. His work will continue to unpack individual motivations for pursuing elected office across political environments using experimental methods and individuals in the candidate eligibility pool.

Dissertation Committee: 

Ann Lin, Vince Hutchings, Barry Checkoway (Social Work), Katie Richards-Schuster (Social Work)

Blake Miller, Comparative/Methods

Dissertation Title: Online Information Control, Fragmentation, and Corporate Delegation in China

My research lies at the intersection of the comparative study of state information controls (propaganda, censorship, surveillance) and methods of computational analysis of political text. In much of my research, I focus on three questions: 1) how do modern authoritarian states make use of market capitalism to ensure survival, 2) why does politically sensitive content abound in authoritarian countries despite herculean efforts to stomp it out, and 3) how does computational propaganda and censorship affect individual-level political behavior and opinion? Though I focus on the case of China, the answers to these questions have implications for democratic and authoritarian countries alike, as state surveillance and censorship increasingly rely on the cooptation of and delegation to technology companies. In the dissertation, I explore the political economy of censorship: how partnerships between technology companies and government actors can lower the cost of surveillance, repression, persuasion, and institution building, while introducing the potential for significant agency loss — company agents acting against their government principals’ interests. I also demonstrate how partnerships with and cooptation of technology companies can give governments greater access to granular social data and allow for technology transfers between technology companies and governments. For example, analytics technologies used to target ads to individuals can be used by governments to target repression, propaganda, and censorship. My dissertation focuses on how these partnerships are affected by fragmentation, pseudo-federalism, and the experimental nature of information control institutions in China. The dissertation also challenges the common assumption that the Chinese government is a monolith that deliberately chooses informational strategies – i.e. simultaneously suppressing information about collective action while tolerating political criticism.

Dissertation Committee: 

Mary Gallagher (chair), Walter Mebane, Pauline Jones, Nicholas Valentino, Chris Fariss

Joe Ornstein, Comparative/Methods

Dissertation Title: Essays on Urban Growth

Joe studies political economy and methodology, with a focus on urban growth and public goods provision. His dissertation project investigates why so many US municipal governments enact restrictive growth control policies.

Other research includes: 

1. A paper on why ethnically diverse cities don't spend less on public goods (and might even spend more!).

2. Refining methods for local public opinion estimation.

3. Estimating the rate of paradoxical behavior in alternative voting systems (using an agent-based computational model)

4. Improving methods for detecting contagion in time series data.

Dissertation Committee: 

Rob Franzese, Jenna Bednar, Scott Page, Liz Gerber

Alon Yakter, Comparative Politics

Dissertation Title: Circles of Solidarity: Diversity and Redistribution in Developed Democracies

My research interests lie in the intersection of comparative political economy, identity politics, and electoral dynamics. The geographic scope of my research covers developed democracies in Europe and North America and the Middle East. My dissertation asks why ascriptive diversity—i.e., national heterogeneity in ethnicity, race, religion, or language—dampens welfare policy outcomes in some developed democracies more than in others. While the consensus in the literature assumes that more heterogeneous countries are less solidary and maintain smaller welfare states, I show that the redistributive implications of diversity vary notably by country and by policy. My dissertation introduces a new theoretical framework that explains the differences in welfare policies by the geographic and economic contexts within which diversity operates. The core argument states that higher geographic separation between identity groups produces regional solidarities that support more decentralized welfare programs, whereas higher intergroup inequality fragments solidarity along class lines and fosters national welfare programs which underprioritize and exclude poor minorities. These expectations are supported empirically with panel data from 22 democracies and a deeper comparative analysis of three selected case studies (Belgium, Israel, and the US) using historical narratives, public opinion data, income surveys, and policy analysis.

Dissertation Committee:

Rob Franzese (chair), Rob Mickey, Anna GB (Stanford), Stuart Soroka

Yujeong Yang, Comparative Politics

Dissertation Title: Politics of Inclusion and Exclusion: Pension expansion in China

In her dissertation, Yujeong discusses how labor informalization and institutions structuring citizenship jointly shape local welfare systems in China. She explores why some Chinese localities undergoing labor informalization develop a pension regime inclusive to informal workers, while others consolidate an exclusive welfare regime that concentrates welfare benefits on formal workers. She finds that the Chinese local citizenship institutions modify the impact of labor informalization on the development of universal social insurance programs. Labor informality contributes to the expansion of universal social insurance program only in localities where most workers are from within the same localities. In localities relying largely on non-local workers, on the contrary, local governments find little incentive to develop universal social insurance programs and rather consolidate the exclusive welfare regime that stratifies workers by their employment positions. "

Keywords: Chinese politics, Labor Politics, Welfare politics, Authoritarian Welfare policies, Social policies in developing countries"

Dissertation Committee: 

Mary Gallagher, Yuen Yuen Ang, Allen Hicken