Richard Ned Lebow
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Please check back later for the full article.
Counterfactuals seek to alter some feature or event of the past and, by means of a chain of causal logic, show how the present might, or would, be different. Counterfactual inquiry—or control of counterfactual situations—is essential to any causal claim. More importantly, counterfactual thought experiments are invariably implication, and are essential to the construction of analytical frameworks. Policymakers routinely use them by to identify problems, work their way through problems, and select responses. Good foreign policy analysis must accordingly engage and employ counterfactuals.
There are two generic types of counterfactuals: minimal rewrite and miracle counterfactuals. They have relevance when formulating propositions and probing contingency and causation. There is also a set of protocols for using both kinds of counterfactuals toward these ends and illustrates the uses and protocols with historical examples. Policymakers invoke counterfactuals frequently, especially with regard to foreign policy, to choose policies and to defend them to key constituencies. They use counterfactuals in a haphazard and unscientific manner, and it is important to learn more about how they think about and employ counterfactuals to understand foreign policy.
Russell J. Dalton
Early electoral research in the United States discovered the most important concept in the study of political behavior: party identification. Party identification is a long-term, affective attachment to one’s preferred political party. Cross-national research finds that these party identities are a potent cue in guiding the attitudes and behavior of the average person. Partisans tend to repeatedly support their preferred party, even when the candidates and the issues change. Party ties mobilize people to vote to support their party, and to work for the party during the campaign. And given the limited information most people have about complex political issues, party ties provide a cue to what positions one should support. The levels of partisanship among contemporary publics, and how it varies across nations and across time, are described. The implications of these patterns, and the current research debates on the significance of partisanship for democracies today, are discussed.
Doh Chull Shin
How well do people around the world understand democracy? Do they support democracy with an informed understanding of what it is? To address these questions, which have largely been overlooked in the literature on democratization, the World Values Survey and three regional barometer surveys are analyzed according to a two-dimensional notion of democratic knowledge. Their analyses reveal that a vast majority of global citizenries especially in post-authoritarian and authoritarian countries are either uninformed or misinformed about the fundamental characteristics of democracy and its alternatives. These findings contradict the popular theses that democracy is emerging as a universal value and it is also becoming the universally preferred system of government. For much of the world today, democracy represents little more than an appealing political symbol that still retains authoritarian practices.