In between making organic cupcakes for my daughters’ school, completing a grant application, tending my organic vegetables, and finishing an R&R for a journal, I came across this little gem of a working paper (thanks to Freakonomics Blog). This new research shows the following:
"Couples where the wife earns more than the husband are less satisfied with their marriage and are more likely to divorce. Finally, based on time use surveys, the gender gap in non-market work is larger if the wife earns more than the husband" (abstract).
A little over a month ago, I wrote about the growing academic literature concerning human rights treaties and their lack of influence on human rights practices. Based on my own experiences growing up in parts of the U.S. where it’s assumed we can "[Rebuild] Our Culture One Purity Ball at a Time,” I likened human rights treaties to virginity pledges, saying that “in most circumstances, these human rights “pledges” don’t work to improve human rights practices. In some circumstances, they can actually lead to a worsening of governmental human rights practices.” There is a brand-spankin-new forthcoming article at American Journal of Political Science by Yonatan Lupu of George Washington University that may indicate my previous conclusion was overstated: when fully accounting for state preferences in treaty commitments, Lupu does not find any evidence that treaties make things worse. This is good news for human rights advocates everywhere and very important for human rights/treaty scholarship! Lupu’s article definitely deserves your attention.
Of the 6 churches I passed on my way to the office this morning, 3 reminded me that today is National Day of Prayer. In the spirit of the day, I’m following my Grandmother-in-Law’s advice and suggesting that we all pray for our enemies. Here’s my list:
This week’s topic for both my grad and undergrad human rights courses is “foreign policy and human rights promotion.” On the list of readings-not-on-last-year’s-syllabus is this little gem: “Enter the Dragon! An Empirical Analysis of Chinese versus US Arms Transfers to Autocrats and Violators of Human Rights, 1989-2006” by Indra de Soysa and Paul Midford. It appeared in last December’s issue of ISQ. Drop what you are doing now and read it! Seriously. It is thought -provoking, made me want to download their replication dataset and play with it before class, and made my students argue aggressively with each other in class.
Dear PhD Prospective (with kids or thinking about kids),
Thanks for contacting me. It sounds like you missed Steve Saideman’s sage advice and are actually going to be trying to get a PhD in political science. Many top people in the discipline will keep working to discourage you from attending – with your best interest at heart – but it sounds like you aren’t going to take their advice to avoid a PhD altogether. So, welcome aboard! It’s a fun profession and you’re just at the starting line.
It also appears that you are either (a) a parent already or (b) thinking about becoming a parent sometime during your PhD. This isn’t surprising – a typical PhD path overlaps with a good chunk of a person’s child-bearing years. There has already been a lot written on how difficult it is to be on the tenure-track or in a policy position with kids. For those interested in policy work, Anne-Marie Slaughter recommended the option (mainly for women) of avoiding the profession until after your kids are grown. This might work for you and you are contacting me with kids in college. If so, congrats! You avoided this issue and just have to hope that your family commitments stay limited while you work on your PhD. For all us other sorry souls without a trust fund/wealthy spouse that can support us while we sit on the sidelines for 20 years, please keep reading – this (faux) email is for you.
In the category of “pop-culture-not-talked-about-by-normal-Ducks,” People magazine’s cover story last week was on ABC’s The Bachelor, Sean Lowe, and his pledge to remain a
virgin re-virgin until his wedding night. As someone who graduated high school in town of less than 1500 in Kansas, I think this type of pledge is pretty typical: many teens and young adults make a pledge, usually in front of an audience, to avoid sexual conduct until marriage. And, not surprisingly, most teens do not keep their pledge. In fact, there are some studies that indicate that these virginity pledges are associated with riskier sexual behavior.
In many regards, the academic literature on UN human rights treaties sees their effectiveness as extremely similar to virginity pledges: in most circumstances, these human rights “pledges” don’t work to improve human rights practices. In some circumstances, they can actually lead to a worsening of governmental human rights practices. Why is this? Below, I outline 3 reasons why human rights treaties and virginity pledges don’t work.
Traveling home today from a great conference with some awesome Ducks and non-Ducks. The conference, hosted by Debbi Avant (U of Denver) and Oliver Westerwinter (EUI) at the University of Denver, was on the topic of networks, governance, and security. I learned a lot and will hopefully write a nice, normal research -related post sometime soon.
At the conference, one of the dinner conversations that kept popping up was the academic job market. In general, the consensus – across age and rank divides - was that the job market is a very difficult, dehumanizing experience for the candidate.
Thanks to a very awesome grad student of mine, I just realized that last week marked the second anniversary of the start of the Bahrain uprising. Fueled by protests in Tunisia and Egypt, citizens of this small and very beautiful island state took to the streets to demand political changes. For two years, the protests have not completely dissipated but haven’t escalated to the point of civil war either. What explains this continued state of violent limbo?
It’s a question faced by scientists daily: if you found that X wasn't associated with Y, would you report it? What if you found that treatment X was harmful to Y, would you report your findings? For example, let’s say you are an oncologist and you just concluded, based on years of research, that smoking wasn’t associated with cancer – would you report your findings? What if you were employed by the cancer drug’s maker or dealing with cancer personally, would you report your findings about treatment X then? Is it unethical to leave the results unpublished?
Questions of personal biases and valid science permeate all facets of science; of course, we as social scientists face these questions all the time in our research. Do personal biases get in the way of our science? Is there any way around our personal biases?
I’m a firm believer that the process of science allows us to eliminate many of the potential biases that we carry around with us. As Jay Ulfelder just pointed out in a blog post on Dart Throwing Chimp with respect to democracy research in comparative politics, the scientific process isn’t easy – there are often strong personal and professional reasons that lead people to stray from the scientific process (to me, sequestering results would imply straying from the scientific process). But, I would contend, the scientific process allows us to overcome many of our personal and professional biases. This is especially relevant, of course, to human rights research. As Jake Wobig just wrote,
“a person does not start studying human rights unless they want to identify ways to change the world for the better. However, wanting something to be so does not make it so, and we scholars do not do anyone any favors by describing the world incorrectly.”
It’s that time of year again: the time when professors team up with their best buddies/colleagues/random-people-who-publish-in-the-same-area and endeavor to write a brilliant ISA/Midwest/APSA paper. At least, that’s what the spring semester always means for me. I like working by myself, don’t get me wrong, but I also enjoy working with others. And, I don’t think I’m alone here: coauthored work is quickly becoming the norm in political science. In general, coauthored work gets in better journals and ends up getting cited more (See: this, this, or this, for example). That makes sense, right? Two (or more) very smart people, working together on their very smart idea. Like marriage partnerships, a coauthor relationship allows you to join forces for a common goal: at least 1 “offspring,” preferably placed in a top-10 journal.
Happy New Year! I hope you are still enjoying a wonderful break. The holidays for me always mean one thing: a lack of Internet access. As a duck-ling who is from Deliverance/mayonnaise/4-H country, I’m particularly attuned to the argument UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur, Frank La Rue, made a couple of summers ago about the human right to Internet access. Of course I need unrestricted access to my favorite websites – how else am I supposed to procrastinate/ignore in-laws! But, is Internet access really more than that? Like La Rue contends, could the Internet actually be an “an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights”?
(Read below to find out)
Charli’s posts on Human Rights Watch and Autonomous Weapons got me thinking: should we really expect human rights international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to influence weapons systems? On the whole, human rights NGOs are a pretty powerless lot: NGOs don’t control military resources like states do and they are typically not at the decision-making table. Why would a powerful state ever listen to the musings of an NGO? Are all of these reports and calls-for-action by NGOs really just hot air?
- Obama became the first sitting president to visit Myanmar/Burma yesterday. Plus, Amnesty International announced the release of political prisoners in the country yesterday, too. It’s a little rare for the organization to “name and praise” instead of “name and shame” so I wonder about the logic of Amnesty’s press release….hmm…that’s an interesting research question
- Obama is also working on maritime disputes during his trip. Check out Doug Gibler’s post on maritime disputes (and territorial disputes more generally) at The Monkey Cage
It's not just the Political Terror Scale, either - the Physical Integrity Index from Cingranelli and Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Dataset shows the same lack of improvement over time.
My good friend and awesome protest/network scholar Michael Heaney at the University of Michigan has released a documentary film, THE ACTIVISTS: WAR, PEACE, AND POLITICS IN THE STREETS. The film is with Melody Weinstein and Marco Roldán and, in addition to the central message of the film, shows the power of releasing academic work in a format that can reach a larger audience.
In an effort to add to the discussion on the “living academic,” let me give hat-tip to an often hidden part of the profession: rejection. I’ve had a little over a dozen things accepted so far as an assistant professor. I prominently display these successes on my CV. Hidden way in some dark place in my mind, however, is the fact that I’ve also had about 20 journal rejections – and counting.
I really wish, as a profession, we instructed newbie grad students about this part of the publication process a little more. Economists tend to do a better job on this, see this or, my favorite, this.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) includes a right that many grad students and professors probably feel is constantly under attack: the right to leisure. It’s there, clearly laid out in Article 24: “Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.” Whenever I introduce the UDHR to a room full of undergrads, I always get some smart aleck in the front row that is quick to associate the document with some sort of lofty, unattainable ideal because of this right. What exactly is the right to leisure? And, why is it included among seemingly more important rights, like the right to freedom from torture or political imprisonment?
Greetings, Duck Followers. I’m Amanda – assistant professor at Mizzou, avid hiker, crazy sci-fi romance novel reader, and pretty competent mother. I’m excited to be a new “duckling” on the block. On the eve of the next US presidential debate, I’ll go out on a limb and guess that the dire human rights situation in Syria will be mentioned. I’ll also bet that neither candidate will say definitively that a humanitarian military intervention is needed.
But, in line with my research and that of my colleagues, some forms of military intervention – especially intervention with a stated humanitarian purpose and that against the perpetrator of the abuses- could really help the extremely dire human rights situation in Syria. Other interventions, however, could exasperate human rights problems. David R. Davis and I have made the case that only peacekeeping operations with a stated humanitarian goal will improve human rights after civil war – some other forms of peacekeeping actually lead to a decrease in human rights…. But, that’s after the conflict. What about during the conflict/genocide/craziness?