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Notes from the Editors: American Political Science Review

Notes from the Editors: American Political Science Review

In this second-to-last issue of 2016, we are very pleased to offer as our lead article a paper that we believe illustrates a model of research transparency in qualitative comparative work. In addition to the lead article we also present articles that offer a rethinking of “warlord rights,” the real effects of civic education, and new approaches to the use of control variables in quantitative research.

As always, we seek to publish work that speaks to a broad audience of scholars, and on topics that also may have important implications for policy makers and practitioners as well. Further, in keeping with our vision of the Review as the leading journal in our discipline, we seek (and will continue to seek) to publish the most innovative work in the field.

In This Issue

In “Collective Threat Framing and Mobilization in Civil War,” Anastasia Shesterinina relies on extensive fieldwork and interviews with both participants and non-participants in the Georgian-Abkhaz war of 1992–93. She leverages the data to shed light on the reasons why individuals join the fight, flee the conflict, or try to survive as civilians during a civil war. Shesterinina argues that these decisions depend not only on framing by leaders, but also on framing by (and guidance from) communities and family members. In addition to a compelling study, Shesterinina offers a meticulous accounting of her research process and data analysis strategies in a set of online appendices. In our view, her appendices provide a useful example of transparency for qualitative research.

Within the realm of international law and international ethics, warlords are typically seen simply as bandits. Robert A. Blair and Pablo Kalmanovitz argue in “On the Rights of Warlords: Legitimate Authority and Basic Protection in War-Torn Societies” that this assessment must be rethought. Throughout history, as well as today, warlords are sometimes forces for stability and order, rather than disruption. Using the case of the Afghani warlord Ismail Khan, they argue that, under certain conditions, warlords should be granted a measure of legitimacy. In the context of a well-balanced presentation of the issues presented by warlordism, they maintain that warlords who maintain peace, respect at least basic human rights, and gain the support of the populace should be recognized as more than bandits, though perhaps as less than states. This thought-provoking article should stimulate broad discussion among scholars and diplomats alike.

In “Electoral Rules and Legislative Particularism: Evidence from U.S. State Legislatures,” Tanya Bagashka and Jennifer Hayes Clark offer a general theory of legislative elections and policy making that can be used to explain a variety of institutional settings around the world. In their words, they combine “the electoral connection/personal vote rational choice perspective of contemporary American politics with a voter-group alignment perspective” that is based in the comparative politics literature. To test their theory, they use an original data set of all bills proposed in the lower houses of 29 U.S. state legislatures during the 2003–2004 legislative session. They find that larger districts and more inclusive selection procedures are associated with more particularism in sponsored legislation, which supports the voter-group alignment model.

Read more notes from the editors.


American Political Science Review / Volume 110, Issue 3 August 2016, pp. iii-ix