POL Faculty Research

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Collection of peer-reviewed research articles (co)authored by the Political Science Department faculty.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 12
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    The impact of COVID-19 on democracy in the world
    (Wichita State University, 2020-09-09) Azpuru, Dinorah
    Beyond the effects on health, the COVID-19 pandemic has had huge effects on the economy, but also on politics in countries around the world. More specifically, in certain countries, it has impacted democracy in a negative way. This presentation will examine the overall impact of the pandemic on countries with democratic regimes, with emphasis on the democratic backsliding that has occurred in some of them. It will also look at the tightening of authoritarianism and human rights violations in countries that were already authoritarian when the pandemic began. Quantitative indicators that show the impact of the pandemic will be also discussed.
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    The massacre generation: Young people and attitudes about mass shooting prevention
    (John Wiley and Sons Inc, 2022-05-12) Vegter, Abigail; Middlewood, Alexandra T.
    Objective: We propose that citizens navigate an increasingly complex social and political world using a “cultural toolkit” shaped by firearms and gun violence. Young people in particular have experienced more mass shootings than any previous generation and have witnessed a lack of government response to these massacres. This article explores the attitudes that members of the Massacre Generation express about mass shooting prevention. Methods: We analyze data from several public opinion surveys conducted following major mass shootings in the United States using ordinary least squares and logistic regression. These surveys were fielded and sponsored by a variety of organizations and asked a nearly identical question about whether mass shootings can be prevented by societal and governmental action. Results: We find that the Massacre Generation is indeed more likely to think the government can prevent mass shootings by implementing stricter gun control laws. We find evidence of these attitudes in multiple public opinion surveys from 2012 to2018. Furthermore, we find no age effect in multiple surveys conducted between 1999 and 2011, suggesting that these attitudes are a relatively new phenomenon. Conclusion: Young people today express that government regulation (i.e., stricter gun laws) can prevent gun violence, placing them at odds with older generations. We discuss the implications of our findings for gun policy development and the future of the gun debate.
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    Staying home on the range: Social capital and social distancing in the Great Plains during COVID-19
    (University of Nebraska Press, 2021) Middlewood, Alexandra T.; Joslyn, Mark R.
    Since the spread of the COVID- 19 pandemic to the United States, citizens have been encouraged to practice social distancing, staying a minimum of six feet away from others. For many, social distancing has become a form of civic duty and expression of unity. In the classic Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam describes community- mindedness as an important pillar of social capital that promotes civic engagement. We hypothesize that citizens who exhibit higher levels of social capital are more likely to socially distance. To test the hypothesis, we utilize publicly available county- level data from Kansas (105 counties) and Nebraska (93 counties) and proxy social capital with county voter turnout from the 2016 presidential election. To gauge social distancing, we use social distancing grades as assigned by Unacast, a company specializing in mobility data. We discover social capital has a significant impact on distancing. In other words, counties with the highest levels of voter turnout produced the best social distancing grades. Furthermore, population is not a significant predictor of social distancing. A vast majority of the counties examined were in fact rural. Rural counties with high numbers of infections— largely those with oligopoly in the meatpacking industry— yield better social distancing grades than the most populated counties.
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    A silver bullet: Gun ownership and political participation in rural America
    (University of Nebraska Press, 2021) Middlewood, Alexandra T.
    Gun owners are highly participatory when it comes to politics. Those who own firearms are more likely to be registered to vote, to vote in elections, and to engage in various other gun-related and non-gun-related political behaviors. This participation is rooted in gun culture, where pro-gun organizations are extremely effective in mobilizing gun owners to engage in politics. Socialization into gun culture occurs when individuals have repeated exposure to firearms, which is more likely to occur in rural communities where guns are more prevalent. I hypothesize that gun ownership has a larger participatory effect in rural areas than in non-rural areas. Utilizing the Pew Research Center's American Trends data from 2017, this study explores the effect of gun ownership in participation on gun issues—contacting officials about gun policy, donating money to gun policy organizations, and discussing firearms on the internet. On engagement measures related to gun politics, I find that gun ownership has a larger effect on political participation in rural areas. This has potential implications for governing and policy, as rural Great Plains states are advantageously represented in key national political institutions.
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    Intersectionality in action: gun ownership and women's political participation
    (John Wiley and Sons, 2019-07-25) Middlewood, Alexandra T.; Joslyn, Mark R.; Haider-Markel, Donald P.
    Objective: We hypothesize that gun ownership among women is an important determinant of political engagement. Methods: First, using 2013 Pew Research Center data, we examine different types of political participation concerning gun policy. Next, we examine data from a survey experiment embedded in a unique June 2017 national survey of nearly 900 gun owners. Finally, we analyze 2016 American National Election Studies data of behavioral and cognitive forms of political participation. Results: Gun-owning women exhibit levels of political participation about gun policy and a greater willingness to engage in political discussions about gun control than nonowning women. We also find greater levels of political engagement among gun-owning women on measures of participation not related to gun policy. Conclusion: We discuss the implications of our findings for research on political participation as well as for gun policy.
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