Day: September 27, 2012

(Political) Scientists

Fellow Duck Brian Rathbun has a new piece in International Studies Quarterly comparing international relations scholars’ paradigmatic preferences to their political preferences, based on TRIP survey data:

Are international relations scholars objective observers of political events, or do our political preferences influence the way in which we see the world? This article explores that question using data from a survey of international relations scholars. It develops and tests hypotheses about how we might expect adherents of particular paradigms to identify themselves politically on a left-right scale based on the resonance between the content of ideology and the key propositions of different schools of thought in IR. Although they are relatively centrist, I find that realists are the most conservative and right-leaning of international relations scholars, while Liberals are more liberal and left-leaning. Although neither approach has any intrinsic ontological content, rationalism and constructivism also have a distinct ideological profile, the former being more conservative than the latter. Post-positivist epistemological commitments are associated with the political left. More importantly, there is an interaction between ontology and epistemology. Positivism plays a role in breaking the link between political values and paradigm choice. Non-positivists demonstrate the strongest connection between ideology and international relations approach. I consider the implications of these findings for the use of paradigms in international relations theorizing, arguing that they should make us more circumspect about the use of paradigms in our discipline.


A New Media Caucus at the ISA?

Should there be a blogging (or, perhaps, “New Media”) caucus at the International Studies Association (ISA)?

Despite being in the ISA-NE hierarchy and having served in various positions for the International Political Sociology (IPS) section, I’ve never paid that much attention to the internal structure of the ISA.

But now I’m involved in the creation of the Historical International Relations (HIST) section and a bid for International Studies Quarterly, so I’ve been on a steep learning curve.

It seems to me that there are good reasons to form a blogging caucus, but it also doesn’t fit well with the existing ones — Global South, LGBTQA, and the Women’s Caucus. They serve to ensure representation for those who struggle with discrimination and acceptance in the field. A New Media caucus would simply provide an institutional mechanism for coordination among those engaging in an increasingly important, but still fraught, dimension of international studies.



The Diffusion of Oil Income Transparency

This is a guest post by Jeff Colgan, an assistant professor in the School of International Service at American University.

Policy responses to the resource curse are diffusing in the international community. In August, the U.S. enacted rules that could reduce corruption, promote political accountability, and maybe even reduce the probability of war. The decision was encouraged transnationally by actors from developing countries. Now the European Union and other countries are taking up the torch. All of this points to an intriguing transnational pattern of policy diffusion of which scholars ought to take note.

Some background: in August, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finally enacted long-overdue regulations stemming from the Dodd-Frank Act which will require any oil company that is publicly listed on a U.S. stock exchange to report its tax, royalty, and other payments to foreign governments. Previously, companies were able to conceal this information, making it difficult for civil society in developing countries to hold their leaders accountable, thereby exacerbating the resource curse.

Intriguingly, the campaign for transparency on oil revenues is transnational, and often includes actors in developing countries that want help in binding the hands of their own governments. Policymakers in developing countries are demanding transparency, as a recent NY Times op-ed by a Libyan official shows. This seems to follow a pattern of transnational advocacy described by Keck and Sikkink.

Now the U.S. policy is being copied by other countries. The European Parliament recently held a committee vote that would require oil, gas, mining and forestry companies listed on EU stock exchanges to disclose their payments to foreign governments, country by country and for each project. Canada is also considering transparency rules for its mining industry that mimic the SEC rules, though the oil industry does not seem to be included (yet?). Interestingly, it is some of the leading mining firms that are pushing for the rule changes in Canada, in contrast to the general industry opposition seen in the U.S. So in addition to transnational advocacy, we now have the kind of policy diffusion noted by Simmons and others.

This policy proliferation is good news. As I argued in Foreign Policy, the rule change is not just beneficial for development, but also for international security. If oil money is not managed well, it often gets used to fund civil and international wars. In particular, oil-producing states led by revolutionary governments are more than three times as likely to instigate militarized interstate disputes as a typical state. Oil income can make petrostates aggressive, which leads to wars like Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and Libya’s various battles with Chad and other neighbors. Those wars often draw in the United States  (My book on this subject, Petro-Aggression: When Oil Causes War, is forthcoming in 2013).

Still, transparency is not a panacea. I view transparency as a “probably necessary, and certainly not sufficient” condition for promoting good governance in the extractive industries. But we’d also like to know what else a country needs to do to avoid the resource curse. I think there’s an opening here to study the extent that transparency actually enables the kind of political accountability and good governance that advocates hope it does. (Some work on this issue is already underway: see Gillies and Dykstra in Cheng and Zaum, 2011)

There is also, it appears, an increasingly important opportunity to study the proliferation of resource-income transparency rules as an exemplar of transnational advocacy and diffusion.


Thursday Morning Linkage

Do a google image  search for “nerd duck public domain”;
Charli’s image comes up pretty quickly.
Not sure what that means.

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