Abstracts for my most recent papers:

The Vicious Cycle:  The Exclusion of Low Socioeconomic Status Voters from Mobilization Efforts

In theory, democratic political systems are created to insure equality amongst their citizenry through universal suffrage.  In reality, there is very little equality between those who vote and those who do not.  From the study of mass behavior, we know that the affluent and educated vote.  From the literature, we also know that campaigns intentionally mobilize these particular voters because they vote.  Poor and uneducated voters are disregarded by campaigns and for this reason they do not participate.  In this paper I ask, will low socioeconomic status voters participate, if they are mobilized?  I explore the effects of a non-partisan “Get-Out-the-Vote” personal canvassing campaign on individual, poor and uneducated, low propensity voters.  Using a randomized field experiment, I find that individual, low propensity and low socioeconomic status voters who are personally contacted and encouraged to vote participate at significantly higher rates than those who are not..

Social Networks, Environment, and Participation:  The Effect of Living Near a Voter on Turnout in Low, Middle, and High Status Neighborhoods

Robert Putnam painted a picture of the American community in the twenty-first century.  In his description of the lonely, American bowler, Putnam laments the loss of “social interaction and occasional civic conversation over beer and pizza that solo bowlers forgo” (1995, 70).  For Putnam, and so many other scholars, it is these casual conversations that seem quintessential to the democratic process, because these interactions serve to inform, shape, and mobilize individuals.  Yet, despite the well-documented decline of membership in civic organizations, there still are places where these daily interactions between friends, neighbors, and family occur.  I want to know how the economic composition of a place helps facilitate the development of these social networks, networks which subsequently influence individual behavior?  I use a unique dataset that combines both individual and aggregate measures at the Census Tract level.  And using a geoprocessing method, I created a variable that measures the social interaction between neighbors.  This dataset allows me to test how the affects of social networks differ in neighborhoods of various economic compositions.  I find evidence that social networks have the greatest effect on participation in middle status neighborhoods. 

The Neighbor Effect:  Spillover Effects of an Experimental Intervention to Increase Turnout Amongst Low-Income Voters

In this paper, I use experimental data to test whether voter mobilization messages targeted at low-income, registered voters have a spillover effect on their neighbors.  I ask:  Are neighbors of randomly contacted voters more likely to turn out to vote in a General Presidential election than the neighbors of control group voters who are not contacted?  I use a geo-coding process to match experimental subjects to their nearest neighbors.  If I find a spillover effect, this would suggest: 1) neighborhood networks are an important determinant of political participation in low-income neighborhoods, and 2) low income voters, often dismissed as unresponsive to GOTV efforts, are actually quite responsive.

People, Place, and Participation:  How Landscape Leads to Voting

The finding that individual characteristics like socioeconomic status, age, race, gender, etc. influence political behavior is well documented in the literature.  And although researchers have recognized that social context is another important determinant of behavior, the literature has failed to provide a clear picture of how context either positively or negatively affects individuals’ political participation.  In order to fill this research gap, I investigate how the physical landscape of a neighborhood either inhibit or facilitate the development of social networks, which then affects the inhabitants’ political participation.  I hypothesize that neighborhoods with more shared/open space will better facilitate the development of social networks and therefore, will have a positive affect on the participation of those who live within these environments.  If I find support for my hypothesis, it will suggest that where someone lives affects not only the relationships she develops, but also shapes how those relationship impacts her political behavior.

Share by: