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Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.

Deserving Of The Name Political Science

I don’t have tons of evidence for this, but I think that it’s not an accident that work like this is done by a female academic. We need to study human behavior the same way Jane Goodall studies chimp behavior, and—for various reasons—that’s not what men in so-called “political science” tend to do.

Here’s political scientist Cheryl Laird in Vox explaining a scientific approach to the question of why black people didn’t turn out to vote in 2016 at the rate they did in 2012: 

In our recent publication in the American Political Science Review, we argue that the continued social isolation of blacks in American society has created spaces and incentives for the emergence of black political norms. Democratic partisanship has become significantly tied to black identity in the United States. The historical and continued racial segregation of black communities has produced spaces in which in-group members can leverage social sanctions against other group members to ensure compliance with group partisan norms.

As a result, social sanctions are the main explanation for why black people behave in this collective manner. In other words, if a politician wants greater support from blacks, her best bet is getting the social processes within the community working in her favor.

They started with observing communities and moved on to a controlled experiment: 

To see the power of these norms and social sanctions, we conducted a number of experiments that randomly assigned black participants to incentives to defect from a well-known norm of black politics: supporting Barack Obama. In one of the studies, we provided small amounts of cash that participants were told they...

But such experiments on humans are highly artificial, so an actual scientist looks to other data to either confirm or question the experimental results: 

In a subsequent working paper, we expand on candidate support based on group norm and examine the reported partisanship by blacks in the face of social pressure from co-racial group members. Leveraging the race of the interviewers in the American National Election Study, we find that in face-to-face interviews, black respondents express significantly greater identification with the Democratic Party when interviewed by a black individual compared to being interviewed by a white individual or taken online (absent an interviewer).

Scientists are not perfect, including female ones. The word “leveraged” in this context is an abomination that should be left outside in a polar vortex to die. What Laird is trying to say is that they took advantage of the fact that the American National Election Study used both white and black interviewers to ask black people how they voted. This fact allowed them to check whether black people give different answers depending on the race of the interview. They do.  

Good luck understanding this behavior using anything written by either Karl Marx or John Stuart Mill.

People Were On The Right Track In The American Academy, Then Marx Became Popular

Are Republicans Complicit? Yes, since January 20, 1981.