MAR 16

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17: MAR 16


  • Hibbing, John R., Kevin Smith, and John R. Alford, Predisposed, Chapter 2, "Getting Into Bedrock with Politics". (26)

Hibbing, et. al. Predisposed Chapter 2

  • Begins with allegations that universities are left-biased. Points out counterexample in Russell. students can be more radical than even lefty faculty. City college story. 34ff: ironically its most lasting intellectual movement was neoconservatism.
  • Point of story: 1) colleges political orientations have little predictable effect on their students. 2) Politics and political beliefs are fungible, change dep on time and place. No discussions these days of Stalin-Trotskyism
  • Note: Hibbing et al disagree with the second point. their thesis is that human nature is variable but politics is, at its core, dealing with a constant problem, invariable. found in "bedrock dilemmas" . The "Commonalities" at p. 37 are our "rock bottom" level.
  • Back to Aristotle
  • [M]an is by nature political. -- politics deep in our nature. But A also speculated that town life, while natural, was not original. An achievement of sorts, not wholly natural.
  • Evidence: GWAS (Gene wide association studies) studies suggest more influence from gene difference on political orientation than economic prefs.
  • Pols and Mating: Political orientation is one of the top correlate predicting mate selection. (39). We do look for diff personality traits in a partner, but not when it comes to pol orientation (or drinking behavior and religion!). considers two objections: mates become similar over time or the correlation is an effect of the selection pool "social homogamy" But no sign of convergence of orientation over time of relationship (but views on gender roles tend to diverge! Nota bene!). Studies controlling for demographic factors undermine second objection.
  • Politics is connected to willingness to punish political difference. (Which helps explain our sensitivity to "political prosecution".) 40-41.
  • Differences Galore?
  • Need to separate issues, labels, and bedrock social dilemmas.
  • Issues arise naturally in the society, but can also be "promoted" by actors and parties.
  • Labels distinguish groups contesting issues. They organize approaches to issues by orientation. Practically, political parties do this, but also media. Labels and parties shift over time, presumably as they compete for voters (or, "package them".)
  • Label "liberal" - today means mildly libertarian, but liberal economic policy isn't libertarian at all (involves income transfer). mentions historical origin of Left/Right. Generally, liberals are more about equality and tolerance, but communists can be authoritarian. Generally, conservatives focus on authority, hierarchy, and order, but they often defend rights in ways that make common cause with liberals (protections from the gov't, free speech).
  • Conclusion they are resisting: (43): political beliefs are so multidimensional and variable that left and right don't have any stable meaning.
  • Commonality Reigns! Political Universals
  • Bedrock social dilemmas (BSD): "core preferences about the organization, structure, and conduct of mass social life" 44
  • Questions associated with BSDs: How should we make decisions? What rules to follow? What do we do with rule violators? Should we try something new or stick with tradition?
  • Predispositions defined: political orientations that are biologically instantiated. these differences are more stable than labels and issues.
  • Example of conceptual framework at work: attitudes toward military intervention. tells the story of changing conservative views of intervention, Lindbergh and the AFC. Late 20th century conservatives were interventionists (commie domino theory), but early century conservatives were isolationists. These changes make sense in relation to the bedrock challenge of dealing with external threats. Shifting analysis of threats can change policy 180 degrees. 48: Pearl Harbor!
  • Example 2: Conservatives softening on immigration after electoral defeats in 2012. Early politics leading to DACA? conservatives still consistently more suspicious of out groups. (heightened threat detection)
  • Note the possibilities: Same view of issue, different ideologies expressing different orientations (Vietnam). Same orientation expressed in different ideologies and different positions on issues (Conservative isolationism before/after Pearl Harbor).
  • Key point in the theory is that these "bedrock dilemmas" occur once cities become too large for people to know each other. Interesting point: We had to use principles to express ourselves about these BSDs because we couldn't influence each other directly.
  • "Society works best when..."
  • bold thesis: looking for universality as: consistent differences across time and culture. example: Optimates and populares in Ancient Greece.
  • left and right have deep associations. left handed suspect.
  • history of research on connection between core preferences on leadership, defense, punishment of norm violators, devotion to traditional behavioral standards, distribution of resources. Laponce. Haidt's MFT.
  • Look at the 4BSDs in relations to Haidt's MFT:
  • 1. Adherence to tradition. (Neophobia/philia)
  • 2. Treatment of outgroups and rule breakers (cooperation, defection, threat) (C, F, L)
  • 3. Role of group/individual (freeriding, self-interest, social commitment) (F, L)
  • 4. Authority and Leadership (Legitimate authority and hierarchy) (A)
  • "Society works best Index" 2007 research "Predicted issue attitudes, ideological self-placement, and party identification with astonishing accuracy" .6 correlation. Pursuing international research with SWB. Note this is "synchronous" research. A snapshot of both BSD and Issue orientation. We will see similar empirical support for the MFT in Haidt, C8.