Duke University, Department of Political Science
Workshop April 29-30

            The workshop is inspired by the turn of comparative political economy toward the micro-level conditions and processes that affect macro-level phenomena such as income distribution. More specifically, the proceedings will be devoted to “hot” motivational and “cold” cognitive mechanisms of individuals’ preferences over income redistribution between households or even between territorial entities. Access to the agenda and timeline is here.

  1. Collective Identities, Territorial Divisions, and Redistributive Preferences (Friday, 8:30 AM – 11:45 AM)

How do collective identities, particularly those with territorial entities (countries, regions) shape preferences over redistribution? Group identification may shape preferred levels and targeting of taxes and transfers at the individual and household level. They may also affect individuals’ preferences over redistribution between territorial units within a country, or among countries in a regional union, or between indigenous residents and those who arrived from other countries (immigrants). What are the circumstances under which such mechanisms as group status, social distance, and ingroup/outgroup considerations affect individual preferences for redistribution? And do individuals’ collective identities moderate their willingness to accept redistribution?

  1. Anchoring and Benchmarking Preferences for Redistribution and Information: Perception of Settings and Reference Groups, Time Horizons (Friday, 11:45 AM – 3:30 PM)

Why are some countries immune from class struggle? Why does not everyone use ballot just to maximize personal economic interest? Traditional theory linking socio-demographic background to redistributive preference underestimates the importance of cognitive information processing on attitude formation. For example, an individual’s (mis)perceptions of the levels and forms of inequality prevailing in a polity, or how an individual weights immediate and future policy outcomes, may moderate her personal preference for redistributive policy. Individual-level studies of information processing may help us explain why individuals’ policy preferences may seem to deviate from simple income maximizing model, but also point out the possible attitudinal change through framing and persuasion. Moreover, collective institutional moderators may affect the capacity of information processing for whole categories of political actors and account for systematic differences in the perception of income distribution and policy preferences across collectivities and polities.

  1. Methodological and Substantive Sources of Cross-national Variance in Reported Preferences over Redistribution (Friday, 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM)

This panel assembles papers that deal with various challenges of cross-national comparison of stated preferences for redistribution that may have to do with the anchor points of respondents’ answers to questions about inequality and redistribution. The first paper directly addresses methodological problems of cross-national comparison of survey responses. The second paper examines how individual-level differences in assessing the quest for redistribution are nested into cross-nationally varying political and economic experiences.

  1. The Welfare State and Demand for Redistribution (Saturday, 8:45 AM – 12:45 PM)

This panel explores the impact of contextual factors on preferences over economic redistribution. Existing scholarship has revealed that macro conditions affect demand for social policies designed to alleviate inequality. What are some of those conditions? How does their effect shape and interact with individual-level characteristics? Under what circumstances do variables such as state capacity, governance capacities, existing welfare arrangements, and political economy institutions influence people’s perceptions of the desirability of redistribution? What are the particular causal mechanisms linking these factors to individual preferences? This panel strives to build on the existing literature by shedding light on the complex interdependencies between individual attributes, and macro structures.

  1. State Capacity and Demand for Social Policy in the Developing World (Saturday, 1:45 PM – 5:00 PM)

Contemporary developing countries are marked by often very stark income inequality, but rarely by social movements of the poor or political parties to represent them in efforts to reverse such distributional outcomes. The failure of poor citizens to pursue social policies that promise economic security from existential economic catastrophes and betterment of life chances through economic redistribution appears particularly stark in contemporary developing countries. What are the conditions that make it so difficult to mobilize redistributive demands in much of the developing world? Are there groups, times, and places where such redistributive demands can become more virulent? What are the mechanisms at the level of individual citizens that reveal how political and economic conditions affect individual preference formation over questions of economic redistribution?