Politics

The Pragmatic Politics of Regulatory Enforcement

The Pragmatic Politics of Regulatory Enforcement
Handbook on the Politics of Regulation, edited by David Levi-Faur, London: Edward Elgar Publishers

Coslovsky, S., Pires, R. & Silbey, S.
11/30/2011

This chapter describes regulatory enforcement as an intrinsically political endeavor. We argue that regulatory enforcement, as enacted daily by front-line
enforcers around the world, consists of the production of local agreements and arrangements that realign interests, reshape conflicts, and redistribute the risks, costs, and benefits of doing business and complying with the law. We argue that, through their transactions, both the regulators and the regulated reshape both their interests and the environment in which they operate, reconstructing their perceptions of and preferences for compliance. We call this phenomenon the “sub-politics of regulatory enforcement,” and claim that it provides a springboard for a pragmatic approach to better regulation

Separated Powers in the United States: The Ideology of Agencies, Presidents, and Congress

Separated Powers in the United States: The Ideology of Agencies, Presidents, and Congress
American Journal of Political Science, 56: 341–354. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2011.00559.x

Clinton, J. D., Bertelli, A., Grose, C. R., Lewis, D. E. and Nixon, D. C.
11/21/2011

Government agencies service interest groups, advocate policies, provide advice to elected officials, and create and implement public policy. Scholars have advanced theories to explain the role of agencies in American politics, but efforts to test these theories are hampered by the inability to systematically measure agency preferences. We present a method for measuring agency ideology that yields ideal point estimates of individual bureaucrats and agencies that are directly comparable with those of other political actors. These estimates produce insights into the nature of the bureaucratic state and provide traction on a host of questions about American politics. We discuss what these estimates reveal about the political environment of bureaucracy and their potential for testing theories of political institutions. We demonstrate their utility by testing key propositions from Gailmard and Patty's (2007) influential model of political control and endogenous expertise development.

“Race Threads and Race Threat: How Obama/Race-Discourse among Conservatives Changed Through the 2008 Presidential Campaign

“Race Threads and Race Threat: How Obama/Race-Discourse among Conservatives Changed Through the 2008 Presidential Campaign
Race in the Age of Obama (Research in Race and Ethnic Relations, Volume 16). Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.267 - 299. 10.1108/S0195-7449(2010)0000016014

Murphree, A., and D. Royster
12/01/2010

This chapter uses critical race theories to interpret Obama-related content and changing discourse patterns on discussion boards maintained by a pro-gun, overwhelmingly white, male, and conservative virtual community. Beginning during the 2008 presidential primary season and continuing through Barack Obama's election as president, our analysis focused on the proliferation of negative “nicknames” (“Obamathets”) that were posted in race-oriented discussion threads over 16 months. We identified three types of frequently voiced Obamathets: those indicating general dislike, political disdain, or racial derision, and we analyzed usage patterns – which types of Obamathets appeared and at which times. Our results revealed a changing state of mind – annoyance to extreme anger – among posters whose sense of racial threat seemed increasingly palpable as Obama approached, and eventually won, the presidency. Over time, posts increasingly included racially derisive terms whose incidence intensified after the election and remained high; racially derisive terms overtook terms of general dislike (that had been more popular) as well as terms of political disdain several months into our analysis. Because posters tended to be more openly libertarian in orientation, we doubt our findings would generalize to the majority of conservative whites; however, our findings probably shed considerable light on activist elements among conservatives, including the “Tea Party” movement. Moreover, capturing sentiments expressed in a semiprivate venue – virtual community discussion boards – probably allowed us to uncover less censored racial sentiment (or racetalk) than is typical when social scientists solicit racial opinions from whites in face-to-face interviews, when many may omit racially hostile thoughts to appear more racially sensitive to researchers.

Of Risk and Pork: Urban Security and the Politics of Rationality

Of Risk and Pork: Urban Security and the Politics of Rationality
Theory and Society, Vol. 39, no. 5, pp 503-525. doi: 10.1007/s11186-010-9123-3

Lakoff, A., and E. Klinenberg
09/01/2010

This article focuses on the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) controversy as a case study in the politics of risk assessment. It examines struggles among diverse actors–think tank experts, journalists, politicians, and government officials–engaged in the contentious process of establishing a legitimate definition of risk. In the field of homeland security, the means of conducting rational risk assessment have not yet been settled, and entrepreneurial officials from urban and regional governments use different techniques to identify local risks and vulnerabilities. In this contentious process, federal bureaucrats are responsible for determining how to allocate resources fairly and rationally to different cities and metropolitan regions, given that local officials have clear incentives to request funds and little cause to refrain. Although “rationality” is supposed to replace “politics” in making bureaucratic decisions over the allocation of resources, what we find instead is a political struggle over how to define, measure, and manage risk. For political actors, victory in debates over urban security comes from codifying one’s interests within the technical practice of risk assessment.

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