PSR Podcast #20: Caroline V. Leicht, Nightly News or Nightly Jokes? News Parody as a Form of Political Communication: A Review of the Literature

“Studies have shown that 0ne in four Americans received their election news from late-night comedy shows. And yet the literature on news parody still has significant limitations” – says Caroline V. Leicht.

The author claims that although news parody as a form of political communication has been at the centre of various studies, some “limitations and gaps in the literature remain substantially unexplored”. The podcast is based on Caroline V. Leicht’s PSR article: Nightly News or Nightly Jokes? News Parody as a Form of Political Communication: A Review of the Literature.

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Leicht, C. V. (2022). Nightly News or Nightly Jokes? News Parody as a Form of Political Communication: A Review of the LiteraturePolitical Studies Review. https://doi.org/10.1177/14789299221100339

Caroline V Leicht received her MA from the University of Liverpool and is currently a PhD researcher at the University of Southampton. Her research focuses on political satire as a form of political communication in electoral contexts in the United States.

production

Dr Eliza Kania, Brunel University London

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Many research projects produce results where the hypotheses are rejected, but where the results are nonetheless interesting. PSR publishes papers where there was a sound theoretical reason for stipulating hypotheses but where these hypotheses had to be rejected.

Papers in the Null Hypothesis section are limited to  6000 words inclusive of all notes and references.

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PSR Interviews #16: Partisanship Versus Democracy: Voting in Turkey’s Competitive Authoritarian Elections – Professor Tijen Demirel-Pegg, Professor Aaron Dusso

“The annulment of the 31 March 2019 elections in Istanbul and the subsequently re-run 23 June 2019 elections is a blatant example of undemocratic behaviour by political leaders” – claim Professor Tijen Demirel-Pegg and Professor Aaron Dusso. Learn more about whether votes care about the anti-democratic behaviours of their political leaders, and read our interview below. It contains an analysis of the political situation in Turkey and is based on the PSR original research article: Partisanship Versus Democracy: Voting in Turkey’s Competitive Authoritarian Elections – Tijen Demirel-Pegg, Aaron Dusso, 2022.

Political Studies Review: To give us a bit more context, how would you characterise the current political landscape and regime in Turkey?

Professor Tijen Demirel-Pegg and Professor Aaron Dusso: Although an ostensibly multi-party regime, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has held power since 2002. AKP’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, served as the Prime Minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014 and has held the presidency since then. In 2017, President Erdoğan tightened his grip on power as a result of a constitutional referendum that changed the political system from a parliamentary to an executive presidential system with weak checks and balances

Your paper focused on the local elections of 23 June 2019. Why were these elections particularly relevant?

The annulment of the 31 March 2019 elections in Istanbul and the subsequently re-run 23 June 2019 elections is a blatant example of undemocratic behaviour by political leaders. We wanted to understand if voters cared about such a clear violation of democratic norms when casting their votes. When AKP’s incumbent for the mayor of Istanbul, Binali Yıldırım, lost the March elections to the opposition candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu, AKP refused to concede its defeat. Under the leadership of President Erdoğan, AKP challenged İmamoğlu’s narrow victory and pressured Turkey’s electoral authority to overturn the Istanbul elections, citing the inclusion of non-civil servants in supervisory committees at the polling booths. The electoral authority sided with AKP and called for a re-run of the Istanbul elections on 23 June 2019.

In 2017, President Erdoğan tightened his grip on power as a result of a constitutional referendum that changed the political system from a parliamentary to an executive presidential system with weak checks and balances.

You claim that the authoritarian shift in Turkey has been progressing for more than a decade. What is the timeframe of this shift and what were the major backslides from good democratic practices?

The first signs of democratic backsliding date back to the mid-2000s when the AKP government began to limit the freedom of the press. Over time, curtailments of civil liberties, further censorship of media outlets and tilting the playing field in favour of AKP candidates throughout election campaigns took a toll on the democratic system. Following a failed coup attempt in 2016, President Erdoğan declared an emergency law and purged thousands of military and administrative personnel from governmental bodies. After the referendum that changed Turkey’s political system to a presidential system, power has become almost exclusively concentrated in President Erdoğan’s hands. Media censorship, curtailment of civil liberties, and interference with judicial processes are ongoing, if not intensifying, and have tainted Turkish democracy significantly during AKP rule.

Solidarity Demonstration for Gezi Park – Taksim Square, Istanbul, Turkey, 2013. Source: Rasande Tyskar, Flickr

Could you tell us more about your research methodology?

A week after the 23 June elections, we administered an online survey of eligible voters in Istanbul. We used questions from the American National Elections Survey and European Social Survey and translated them into Turkish while also modifying them to the Turkish context. We analyzed the survey responses by using categorical data analysis (binomial and multinomial logit analyses.

How strongly have concerns for democracy been reflected in voting preferences in Turkey? Do these differ from the standard scholarly understanding of that topic?

Scholars have long established that partisanship, idealogy, and the economic context are the most reliable predictors of voting behaviour. Turkey is no exception to these findings. Scholars examining voting preferences in Turkey have also found that Turkish voters behave in a similar way to voters in other electoral contexts. Alternatively, democracy scholars have suggested that elections are one of the most important bulwarks of democracy, keeping leaders with authoritarian tendencies in check. Several scholars, such as Milan Svolik (2020) have shown that in a sharply polarized political context, voters are willing to turn a blind eye to democratic concerns and vote based on partisanship or personal interests. Given that AKP has won numerous elections since they came to power in 2002 while leading the country into a gradual democratic backsliding, concerns for democracy have not been a driving force for the majority of Turkish voters.

The popular narrative was perhaps too optimistic. Our analysis shows that partisanship, and not concerns for democracy, was the primary driving force behind İmamoğlu’s victory in the second round of Istanbul elections in June.

You write: “The popular narrative within and outside of Turkey often portrayed these elections as motivated by concerns about democratic backsliding after the nullification of the first election in March.” Were these narratives correct? What drives voters to challenge the AKP?

The popular narrative was perhaps too optimistic. Our analysis shows that partisanship, and not concerns for democracy, was the primary driving force behind İmamoğlu’s victory in the second round of Istanbul elections in June. Our study aligns with several scholars, such as Milan Svolik (2020), who have also suggested that elections are one of the major bulwarks of democracy, keeping authoritarian leaders in check. Our analysis shows that even in the context of a clear violation of democratic norms, voters cast their ballots based on their partisanship and not democratic concerns.

What are the key contributions your paper brings to the field?

Our study is one of the few individual-level analyses of the concern for democracy in a polarized, competitive authoritarian context. Our study shows that the assumption that elections are a reliable check against leaders who are willing to violate democratic norms may not necessarily hold. We also found that economic dissatisfaction was not an important driving factor in the June 2019 elections, even though Turkish citizens had already been feeling the negative effects of an economic recession at the time of the elections. The effects of economic dissatisfaction on voting behaviour require further research in polarized and semi-authoritarian countries.

ABOUT

Tijen Demirel-Pegg is an Associate Professor of Political Science at IUPUI. Her research interests focus on contentious politics, political violence, human rights, and authoritarian regimes, with an emphasis on dissident-state interactions.

Aaron Dusso is an Associate Professor and Department Chair of Political Science at IUPUI. His work focuses primarily on the political psychology of electoral behaviour, with an emphasis on the Big Five personality traits, authoritarianism, civic aptitude, and correct voting.

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Demirel-Pegg, T., & Dusso, A. (2022). Partisanship Versus Democracy: Voting in Turkey’s Competitive Authoritarian Elections. Political Studies Review, 20(4), 648–666. https://doi.org/10.1177/14789299211030446

Questions and production

Dr Eliza Kania, Brunel University London

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PSR Interviews #15: Mathis Ebbinghaus,  Institutional Consequences of the Black Lives Matter Movement: Towards Diversity in Elite Education

Has the Black Lives Matter movement influenced not only public opinion but also HE institutions? Mathis Ebbinghaus and Sihao Huang suggest that there is a temporal association between these time series: the enrolment of Black students and the salience of BLM. Despite some concerns, it did not affect broader trends towards greater representation of other minority students. Learn more in our interview below and read the PSR article: Institutional Consequences of the Black Lives Matter Movement: Towards Diversity in Elite Education.

Political Studies Review: You claim that “universities expressed their commitment to racial diversity, but university policies aimed at rectifying historic disadvantages were also met with criticism.” What is the situation of universities in the US in terms of racial diversity?

Mathis Ebbinghaus: Yes, that’s right. Racial diversity is one of the big contentious topics in university politics – perhaps because it relates to the meritocratic promise of the American dream. Proponents argue that greater racial diversity reflects fairer conditions that enable historically disadvantaged groups to compete. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, hundreds of universities expressed their commitment to campus equity efforts. Critics are concerned that greater racial diversity comes at the cost of new racial discrimination against academically successful students. In 2020, the enrolment-to-population ratios of Asian students are 4.3 and 3.68 in elite universities and medical schools respectively. Hispanic and Black students are underrepresented compared to their representation in the general population whereas enrolment rates for White students reflect their representation in the US population. In our article, we examine how Black and Asian student representation has changed over time. Contrary to concerns that Asian student representation has declined as a result of growing enrolment rates of Black students, we observe a steady increase in the representation of Asian students alongside increases in the representation of Hispanic students over the past decade. BLM coincided with increased Black enrolment in highly selective universities. It did not affect broader trends towards greater representation of other minority students.

What are the major challenges for policies to efficiently enhance racial diversity in the HE sector?

There certainly are numerous challenges to enhancing racial diversity. As far as our research is concerned, the positive association between racial diversity and Black Lives Matter activism suggests that it will be an important challenge for social justice activists to continuously convince university staff of the worthiness of their claims and to channel the momentum of 2020 into institutional politics that fall to some extent outside the purview of legal obligations.

BLM coincided with increased Black enrolment in highly selective universities. It did not affect broader trends towards greater representation of other minority students.

Based on your research, has the Black Lives Matter protest movement influenced the HE sector in the US at the macro level?

Yes, the data that we analyzed lend credence to this interpretation. In elite education, the shares of Black students in elite undergraduate and medical schools have coincided with the growing influence of the BLM movement. Future research should investigate the same question with methods that allow for more causal interpretations.

Black Lives Matter protest, London, June 2020, phot. E. Kania

You aim at identifying the measurable impacts the BLM movement has had on elite educational institutions. Would you elaborate on your data and methods?

Certainly. But let me just stress again that it would be premature to interpret our findings causally. What we do show is that there is a temporal association between two time series: the enrolment of Black students and the salience of BLM. To measure the salience of the BLM movement we use the GDELT database that has data on TV coverage of 109 local and national television channels. Our university enrolment data span the years from 2011 to 2020. Data on medical school enrolments by race cover twelve years from 2009 to 2020. Both applicant and enrolment numbers were obtained directly from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

One of the effects that you describe is the increase in the enrolment of Black students. How can you explain that?

There are many compelling explanations that could account for this trend. We suggest that the Black Lives Matter movement may have contributed to increases in the enrolment of Black students both directly through interactions between activists and members of admission committees and indirectly through affecting the universities’ broader outlook. Awareness of the university’s values and the presence of passionate students who measure the university by their actions may create conformity pressures among admission board members. In future research, we hope to test these social mechanisms more directly.

We suggest that the Black Lives Matter movement may have contributed to increases in the enrolment of Black student both directly through interactions between acticsts and members of admission committees and indirectly through affecting the universities’ broader outlook.

Have any inter-sectional diversity challenges appeared? Were there any critical voices raised and what would be your response to them?

Yes, there were. Some critics feared that increasing Black student representation would disadvantage other racial groups. Our analysis shows that the representation of Asian students grew steadily for both types of elite education ­– the opposite of what critics feared. The representation of Hispanic students increased as well, which leaves us with a clear picture: The spikes in Black student representation following spikes in the salience of the BLM movement did not affect broader trends towards greater representation among other minority groups. While enrolment rates for the three largest minority groups in the US have increased over the past decade, enrolment rates for White students continuously decreased.

What are the key contributions your paper brings to the field?

There is more and more evidence that the Black Lives Matter movement shaped public opinion and policy. But movements can also have institutional consequences. Although studied less often, they are no less important. By focusing on the relationship between the Black Lives Matter movement and racial admission practices in elite educational institutions, we contribute to scholarship on the institutional consequences of social movements.

Black Lives Matter protest, source: Pixabay

ABOUT

Mathis Ebbinghaus is a DPhil candidate in sociology at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. His research is in political sociology and he investigates social movements and extraordinary social action. 

MORE

Institutional Consequences of the Black Lives Matter Movement: Towards Diversity in Elite Education – Mathis Ebbinghaus, Sihao Huang, 2022 (sagepub.com)

Questions and production

Dr Eliza Kania, Brunel University London

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Issue 4/2022: Western Balkans, democratic innovations, political theory, civil society and more

The whole issue 4/2022 can be found here.

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Special Issue: The Process of Democratization, the Political Parties and the Electoral Systems in the Western Balkans (1990-2018)

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State of the Art – Review Articles

The Null Hypothesis

Early Results

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Early Results

Many research projects produce exciting early results where the immediacy (and impact) is then lost as researchers seek to fashion full-length articles. In the Early Results section, authors can release early project findings without excessive theoretical setup or a long literature review.

In essence, these articles will be akin to working papers, where the results will ultimately feature in full articles with an extended argument (in other journals or PSR). This will provide not only a means by which early findings can be published but also an arena in which new ideas can be explored, promoted and tested.

Early Results submissions are limited to 3000 words inclusive of all notes and references.

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PSR Symposia and New Ideas

PSR is a forum for publishing results from symposia. These can be early versions of what may become more extensive articles, exploring and fleshing out new ideas and directions for study. 

Papers in the Symposia and New Ideas section are limited to 3000 words inclusive of all notes and references. 

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Issue 3/2022: fake news, sexual assault and political behaviour, conservative values, protests and more.

The whole issue 3/2022 can be found here.

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Articles

STATE OF ART

EARLY RESULTS

THE NULL HYPOTHESIS

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