SPIR Publications

Below is an overview of the most recent publications from academics within the School of Politics and International Relations.

Blair Williams Are women leaders really better? Essays on Equality COVID-19 Edition July 2020
Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic poses a profound challenge for political leaders around the world. Those with populist authoritarian inclinations, like US President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, have seen their countries hit by medical and economic devastation, while those with a more conciliatory leadership style, like New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, have demonstrated how an empathetic, decisive and consistent approach can successfully flatten the curve. Globally, women hold only 7 per cent of government leadership positions, yet four of the top 10 countries identified as frontrunners in their response to Covid-19 are led by a woman.39 A similar pattern can be observed at other levels of leadership, leading to widespread media speculation that women are simply better leaders.


Johnson, Carol and Blair Williams Gender and Political Leadership in a Time of COVID. Politics & Gender June 2020
Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has undermined the division between the private sphere of the home and public sphere of politics that has traditionally disadvantaged women political leaders. Whereas male political leaders drew on their traditional role as the male head of household to display forms of masculine protectionism towards citizens, women leaders have now been able to draw on their traditional motherly role, for example as the member of the household who traditionally compassionately cares for the sick, to display forms of feminine protectionism. As a result, various women leaders internationally have managed to leverage women’s role in the home to their advantage in the political sphere. Significantly, an appreciation of traditionally feminine attributes in women political leaders has also been displayed in much media coverage, providing a more favourable coverage of female political leaders than has often previously been the case.


Dowding, Keith and Taylor Brad R Economic Perspectives on Government, Foundations of Government and Public Administration.
Abstract: This book introduces and applies the economic way of thinking to public policy and public administration. It provides a non-technical introduction and assumes no prior economic or mathematical training but looks closely at the methodological and normative assumptions underlying economic analysis. It provides a deep understanding of the method than a simple technical presentation would allow. After introducing the basic assumptions of the economic method, the book considers the analysis of market failure, the role of government in a market economy, behavioural economics, bargaining in government, bureaucracy, interest groups, and levels of government. By providing a balanced introduction to and overview of economic approaches to government, the book will be useful to undergraduate and postgraduate students in public administration and public policy, as well as academics and practitioners in these fields interested in the application of the economic way of thinking.


Uhr, John and Crowe, Shaun NOVEL POLITICS: studies in Australian political fiction
Abstract: Novel Politics takes the relationship between literature and politics seriously, analysing the work of six writers, each the author of a classic text about Australian society. These authors bridge the history of local writing, from pre-Federation colonial Australia (Catherine Spence, Rosa Praed and Catherine Martin) to the contemporary moment (Tim Winton, Christos Tsiolkas and Kim Scott). Novel Politics unpicks the many political threads woven into these books, as they document the social world as it exists, while suggesting new possibilities for the nation's future. As political commentators of a particular kind, all six authors offer unique insights into the deeper roots of politics in Australia, beyond the theatre of parliament and out into the wider social world, as imagined by its dreamers and criticised by its most incisive discontents. Table of Contents Preface Introduction: Politics and the Study of Literature Part One Chapter 1 Catherine Spence's Clara Morison Chapter 2 Rosa Praed's Policy and Passion Chapter 3 Catherine Martin's An Australian Girl Part Two Chapter 4 Tim Winton's Dirt Music Chapter 5 Christos Tsiolkas's The Slap Chapter 6 Kim Scott's That Deadman Dance and Taboo Conclusion: Literature and the Study of Politics


Benoit, Kenneth Text as data: an overview in The SAGE Handbook of Research Methods in Political Science and International Relations
Abstract: This chapter thoroughly describes the idea of analysing text “as data” with a social science focus. It traces a brief history of this approach and distinguishes it from alternative approaches to text. It identifies the key research designs and methods for various ways that scholars in political science and international relations have used text, with references to fields such as natural language processing and computational linguistics from which some of the key methods are influenced or inherited. It surveys the varieties of ways that textual data is used and analysed, covering key methods and pointing to applications of each. It also identifies the key stages of a research design using text as data, and critically discusses the practical and epistemological challenges at each stage.


Markowski, Stefan and Williams, Katarzyna 'Fair Dinkum' Migration Policy: Lessons from Australia in Relations between Immigration and Integration Policies in Europe: Challenges, Opportunities and Perspectives in Selected EU Member States
Abstract: For most of its history, the Australian Federation has embraced large-scale immigration as an imperative of population growth and a development opportunity. Although it is often seen as one of the most immigrant-welcoming nations in the world, Australia has also applied a comprehensive migration governance regime comprising discriminatory immigration and integration strategies, policies and procedures aimed at ensuring that migrant flows are controlled to facilitate best economic outcomes for the country as well as the smooth integration of new arrivals into its socio-economic fabric. This governance regime favours particular categories of newcomers, mostly younger and skilled, and discourages others by means of a harsh system of border controls that reticulates to offshore detention centres all entry-seekers who are considered unauthorised and/or illegal. Thus, despite its enviable record of immigrant acceptance and assimilation, Australia’s tough border controls have attracted a great deal of international opprobrium. The Australian electorate has long supported such tough measures providing the overall migration governance system is ‘fair dinkum’ – ‘transparent, equitable and honest’ in local vernacular. And, in contrast to many other countries, Australia has also learnt much faster from its experience and has therefore been more politically bipartisan and effective at addressing problems of mass, cross-border mobility as they emerge. This chapter reviews the history of Australian migration governance to highlight those aspects that should be of interest to other nations, in particular the EU.


Lim, Darren and Ferguson, Victor Conscious decoupling: The technology security dilemma in China Dreams
Abstract: In the light of growing rivalry between the United States and China in the technology domain, this chapter considers how the mutual insecurity felt by both major powers can be framed using the lens of the traditional 'security dilemma' from security studies scholarship, in which mutual insecurity can spiral into conflict. The authors then consider ways in which each side can contribute to reassurance.


Opera, Alexandra Compassion’s More Dangerous Allies: Fear, Anxiety, and Amour-Propre  Polity 52, no. 2 (April 2020): 189-220
Abstract: What kind of moral and sentimental education should we pursue under non-ideal circumstances? In states characterized by high inequality and imperfect political institutions, scholars have increasingly turned their attention to the ethics of care and the politics of compassion. In response, critics have raised concerns that compassion is too weak to serve politically salutary goals. Drawing on the moral and political psychology of Emile, this article shows that Rousseau relied on fear, anxiety, and amour-propre to extend compassion across class lines. Rousseau’s account suggests that the proper development of compassion cannot do without these more “dangerous” allies, at least not in societies characterized by socioeconomic inequality. In addition to its contribution to Rousseau scholarship, the article adds to the contemporary literature on moral sentiments by highlighting three psychologically plausible and previously unacknowledged strategies for extending compassion: fear of downward social mobility, religious anxiety, and pride.


Heinisch, Reinhard, Werner, Annika and Habersack, Fabian Reclaiming National Sovereignty: The Case of the Conservatives and the Far Right in Austria European Politics and Society Volume 21, 2020 Issues 2 Pages 163-181
Abstract: This article investigates how and why Austrian parties have (re)constructed claims of national sovereignty and brought them to the centre of political competition. Theoretically, claims for national sovereignty are directed at recovering the people’s autonomy from ‘sinister’ elites and ‘harmful’ outsiders like immigrants. As such claims vary in terms of policy content, salience, and discursive means, this article uses the analysis of manifestos and speeches to ascertain how the radical-right populist Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) constructed sovereignty claims in 2013 and 2017. Furthermore, it shows how the mainstream right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) adopted these claims, significantly narrowing the gap to the far-right FPÖ on the national and economic dimension of sovereignty, and largely renounced its pro-European and anti-sovereignist positions by 2017. In a second step, we examine whether the claims by these two parties match the preferences of their voters. Here, the findings suggest that the FPÖ’s sovereignty claims broadly correspond to the demands of its voters whereas ÖVP voters only partially express support for such claims, mainly on the national sovereignty investigating in detail the form and conditions of their occurrence.


Butcher, Charles, Goldsmith, Benjamin, Nanlohy, Sascha, Sowmya, Arcot and Muchlinski, David Introducing the Targeted Mass Killing Data Set for the Study and Forecasting of Mass Atrocities Journal of Conflict Resolution, Online January 2020
Abstract: This article describes a new data set for the study of genocide, politicide, and similar atrocities. Existing data sets have facilitated advances in understanding and policyrelevant applications such as forecasting but have been criticized for insufficient transparency, replicability, and for omitting failed or prevented attempts at genocide/ politicide. More general data sets of mass civilian killing do not typically enable users to isolate situations in which specific groups are deliberately targeted. The Targeted Mass Killing (TMK) data set identifies 201 TMK episodes, 1946 to 2017, with annualized information on perpetrator intent, severity, targeted groups, and new ordinal and binary indicators of genocide/politicide that can serve as alternatives to existing measures. Users are also able to construct their own indicators based on their research questions or preferred definitions. The article discusses the concept and operationalization of TMK, provides comparisons with other data sets, and highlights some of the strengths and new capabilities of the TMK data.

Williams, Blair. 2020. 'A Tale of Two Women: A Comparative Gendered Media Analysis of UK Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May'. Parliamentary Affairs April 2020
Abstract: This article compares how the print media portrayed Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May in the first three weeks of their respective prime ministerial terms. Examining the similarities and differences between the media coverage of the two leaders, who ascended to the prime ministerial role almost 40 years apart, helps us understand how mainstream media coverage concentrates on the gendered differences of women political leaders from the masculine leadership norm. Seven major daily newspapers were examined, using feminist content analysis and feminist critical discourse analysis. The study revealed that, contrary to expectations, not only was there more attention to May’s gender than to Thatcher’s, but it was also more detailed and elaborate, particularly in the conservative press.


Sawer, Marian Gender mainstreaming and the substantive representation of women: where do parliamentary bodies fit? Politics, Groups, and Identities, Online April 2020
Abstract: Over the past 20 years here has been a proliferation around the world of parliamentary bodies with a gender equality mandate. Yet they are often overlooked because they don’t fit easily into existing frameworks for comparing national machineries for the advancement of women or women’s policy agencies. Nor have they been made visible in much of the work on the substantive representation of women, even as such work has broadened out from a focus on individual critical actors to encompass collectivities. This paper looks at existing theoretical frameworks in order to identify which elements can best be applied to the study of gender-focused parliamentary bodies. In doing so, it seeks to make such bodies more visible as a form of feminist institution-building and presents a checklist of elements to support the “feminist” label. As a case study, it examines the work of the parliamentary groups on population and development that now exist in some 65 parliaments around the world and at regional levels. Overall, the paper argues the importance of going “beyond numbers” to explore the institutional settings that facilitate the substantive representation of diverse groups of women.


Kim, Dongwook and Choi, Chonghyun Civil Society and Labour Rights Protection in Asia and the Pacific Pacific Affairs, Volume 93, Number 1, March 2020, pp. 89-112(24)
Abstract: Why do some national governments in Asia and the Pacific protect labour rights better in practice than others? This article argues that labour rights are better protected in Asia-Pacific countries where civil society organizations participate more intensively in the government's policy-making process. It goes beyond treating regime type in the aggregate and demonstrates that the associational dimension of regime type plays a critical role in shaping government protection of labour rights in Asia and the Pacific. Multivariate longitudinal analyses of all 30 Asia-Pacific countries from 1981 to 2011 find robust support for the theory, using new data on civil society participation, and controlling for electoral democracy, trade openness, economic development, unobserved country-level heterogeneity, and other factors.


Kumove, Michael Diversity, semi-communication and cross-country trust: A quantitative analysis Social Science Research Volume 86, February 2020
Abstract: Existing trust research has often failed to account for the possibility that communication impairments brought on by language barriers could explain low levels of trust both within and between countries. To test whether this is the case, I construct an ‘index of communication potential’ for a sample of 359 cross-country dyads composed of 21 European countries. Although similar indexes have been used previously, this is the first one to include instances of ‘semi-communication’ between related languages when calculating communication potential. Multiple regression analysis indicated not only that greater communication potential was associated with greater cross-country trust, but that this relationship was monotonic: semi-communication was also associated with greater trust, but the link was weaker than for actually sharing a language.


Zekulin, Michael From Inspire to Rumiyah: does instructional content in online jihadist magazines lead to attacks? Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression Online January 2020
Abstract:  Considerable time has been spent examining how groups like AQAP and ISIS used their online magazines to reach and radicalize individuals in Western democratic states. This paper continues this investigation but shifts its analysis to focus on the ‘how-to’ or instructional content of these publications, an understudied part of the literature. One of the stated goals of these magazines was to provide tactical know-how and assist supporters conducting terror plots in their home states. The question: did the tactics outlined in the magazines materialize in actual plots/attacks and how quickly were they put into practice? The paper examines this question by creating an overview of the tactics which appear in these publications and cross referencing them with a dataset of 166 Islamist-inspired homegrown terror plots/attacks in 14 Western democratic states to determine if, and when, they first appeared in relation to their publication date. It concluded that while some of the suggested strategies did appear following their publication, often it occurred after considerable time had elapsed. This suggests the instructional content did not resonate with readers in real time.


Taflaga, Marija and Beauregard, Katrine The merit of party institutions: Women's descriptive representation and Conservative parties in Australia and the United Kingdom Journal of Women, Politics and Policy Volume 41, 2020 - Issue 1 Pages 66-90
Abstract: Generally, right-wing political parties tend to fall behind their left-wing counterparts on women’s representation. Conservative parties emphasize individual merit rather than structural barriers as an explanation for low levels of women succeeding in candidate selection processes. Some right-wing parties have made more progress than others. Comparing parties within the conservative family, we aim to reveal what institutional factors may retard or promote women’s representation. We find that the decentralization of the candidate selection process combined with electoral losses created opportunities for critical actors to act to increase women’s representation to around 20% in Australia, some 15 years earlier than in the United Kingdom.


Parker, Rita Is Australia's Defence Policy Right for the Times? Security Challenges Vol. 16, No. 2 pages. 34-46
Abstract: This paper seeks to identify some of strategic issues that need to be considered in reassessing Australia’s defence policy. While past Defence White Papers identified several such issues, these need to be re-evaluated in the context of a dynamic and complex global strategic environment. This will enable policymakers to ensure that defence policy is relevant to the future geostrategic environment and that Australia’s defence forces are sufficiently prepared for contemporary and future challenges. Currently defence policy reflects a degree of institutional bias founded on past force structure models based on Cold War precepts and a war-fighting basis. There is a pressing imperative for defence policy to be reframed to reflect the way conflict has changed, factors that have influenced that change, and the resulting contemporary non-geographic transnational security challenges that often arise from non-military sources.


Dowding, Keith and Taflaga, Marija Career De-Separation in Westminster Democracies The Political Quarterly Volume 91, No. 1, January–March 2020
Abstract:  In Westminster parliamentary systems there was once a clear separation between the careers of public servants and of elected politicians. Politicians decided what policies they wanted to pursue, while public servants advised, devised and delivered the policies. This separation ensured that policy ideas were developed by a professional elite with experience and knowledge. Politicians came from a variety of backgrounds, entering politics for a variety of reasons. Over time, the source of policy advice for ministers has shifted from the professional public servant to political advisers lacking experience and with different career ambitions than public service. Increasingly, elected politicians are becoming ‘professionalised’—emerging from similar party and adviser backgrounds. The de-separation of what were once distinct career paths has led to poorer policy development, increasing public malfeasance, a lower-quality civil service, and democratic disenchantment. We need to separate the career paths once more.


Lim, Darren, Ferguson, Victor and Bishop, Rosa Chinese Outbound Tourism as an Instrument of Economic Statecraft Journal of Contemporary China Online March 2020
Abstract: China’s growing economic strength provides Beijing with potent instruments of economic statecraft to pursue political and strategic objectives. Yet studies of economic power and Chinese economic statecraft tend to concentrate on trade in goods, outbound investment, and international institutions. This article broadens this research program into trade in services by focusing on China’s outbound tourism sector. Drawing on a variety of Chinese and English language sources, the authors describe the history and structure of the domestic regulatory framework governing Chinese outbound tourism, before studying instances where the government has apparently intervened for strategic purposes. By unpacking how Chinese consumers arrange overseas holidays, this article provides insights into how the market structure of this service industry creates both opportunities for and constraints on China’s economic power.


Fisher, Denise The Crowded and Complex Pacific: Lessons from France’s Pacific Experience Security Challenges Vol. 16, No. 1 pages. 37-43
Abstract: The recent experience of France in the Pacific Islands provides some cautionary indicators for Australia about the potential effect of new players seeking engagement in the region, and the likely approaches of island leaders to them. France is effectively the only remaining European power resident in the Pacific islands through its sovereign territories, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna and Clipperton Island. It sees itself both as a leading European power in the Pacific, and as an internal Pacific Islands regional power, based on its sovereignty there. The French territories occupy strategic positions relative to the Pacific Island states: New Caledonia and French Polynesia flank the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) region at the western and eastern ends respectively, with Wallis and Futuna at the centre. France’s uninhabited Clipperton Island lies north of the Equator just off the Mexican coast. Of the four, New Caledonia is undoubtedly France’s pre-eminent possession, site of its regional military headquarters and with strategic minerals (nickel, lithium, cobalt) and signs of petroleum and gas offshore. France has recognised in a series of recent assessments that its Pacific possessions represent strategic assets, making it the world’s number two maritime power (in terms of maritime territory at least) by virtue of their vast exclusive economic zones, and underpinning France’s claims to global leadership, and its scientific and technical, space and military roles.


Sawer, Marian Feminist Political Science The SAGE Handbook of Political Science
Abstract: The SAGE Handbook of Political Science presents a major retrospective and prospective overview of the discipline. Comprising three volumes of contributions from expert authors from around the world, the handbook aims to frame, assess and synthesize research in the field, helping to define and identify its current and future developments. It does so from a truly global and cross-area perspective

Chapters cover a broad range of aspects, from providing a general introduction to exploring important subfields within the discipline. Each chapter is designed to provide a state-of-the-art and comprehensive overview of the topic by incorporating cross-cutting global, interdisciplinary, and, where this applies, gender perspectives. The Handbook is arranged over seven core thematic sections.


Yoder, Brandon Theoretical rigor and the study of contemporary cases: explaining post-cold war China–Russia relations International Politics Volume 57 Issue 3
Abstract: It has been widely noted that China and Russia have grown progressively closer over the last two decades. Although the scholarly literature has offered detailed descriptions and various ad hoc explanations of this trend, the Sino-Russian bilateral relationship has been the subject of very little scrutiny using rigorous theory, which has obstructed hypothesis formation and evaluation. Moreover, the cooperative post-Cold War trend in the bilateral relationship seems puzzling for baseline versions of each of the major paradigms of international relations theory: realism, constructivism and liberalism. For realists, China’s rising power, coupled with its geographic proximity and longstanding border disputes with Russia, made it a present and growing threat to Russian security at the end of the Cold War. Why did China’s rise not incur balancing from Russia and increasing bilateral hostility, rather than reconciliation? For constructivists, the stark differences in political ideologies and national cultures, as well as a long history of antagonism, presaged continued post-Cold War animosity. How have these historical animosities and ideological rifts been mitigated or overcome? Finally, both countries were increasingly integrated into the US-led international order immediately following the Cold War, with relatively low interdependence in their bilateral relationship. From a liberal perspective, why did this not prompt the two countries to improve political relations with the West while holding each other at arm’s length? The papers in this special issue develop and apply nuanced theoretical arguments to derive testable hypotheses for the cooperative trend in China–Russia relations. In contrast to existing scholarship, these papers offer generalizable insights that both improve our understanding of a crucially important contemporary case, while also advancing IR theory in substantial ways.


Yoder, Brandon, Gaubatz, Kurt Taylor and Schutte, Rachel A. Political Groups, Coordination Costs and Credible Communication in the Shadow of Power Political Science Quarterly Volume 134 Issue 3 pages 507-536
Abstract: Across subfields of political science, groups in subordinate power positions often have incentives to feign satisfaction with the status quo, in order to avoid punishment from more powerful actors. Consequently, subordinate actors’ cooperative public discourse is widely considered non-credible “cheap talk.” In contrast, we argue that for dissatisfied groups, misrepresenting preferences through cooperative public discourse involves significant costs and risks. To minimize the risk that proscribed goals will be discovered, subordinate actors must restrict even private discourse. Yet political groups and organizations rely on internal communication to achieve the intragroup coordination necessary to develop and implement policies. Refraining from proscribed discourse therefore constitutes a costly signal that carries some degree of credibility. Our argument has broad implications both for signaling theories and for the empirical measurement of actors’ preferences, which generalize across subfields of political science. These implications are illustrated by empirical applications to U.S. foreign policymaking, China’s international relations, and U.S. Supreme Court decisions.


Kyle Haynes and Yoder, Brandon Offsetting Uncertainty: Reassurance with Two‐Sided Incomplete Information American Journal of Political Science Volume 64 Issue 1 Pages 38-51
Abstract: Conventional models of bargaining and reassurance under incomplete information assume that actors’ behavioral signals are objectively cooperative or noncooperative. Even if actors are uncertain of each other’s preferences, they know what types of actions the other will view as cooperative. Yet on many real-world issues, cooperation is subjective, and what constitutes a cooperative action is conditional on the receiver’s preferences. We present a formal model showing that in these cases, two-sided incomplete information actually incentivizes honest behavior and facilitates credible signaling. Because uncertain senders do not know whether a particular action will be interpreted as cooperative, they have little incentive to misrepresent, and instead honestly pursue their true goals. Thus, where cooperation is subjective, mutual uncertainty is “offsetting,” such that credible signals allow actors to quickly and accurately update their beliefs. We illustrate this logic through a case study of the Sino–Soviet split, and highlight the model’s implications for contemporary U.S.–China relations.

Yoder, Brandon and Kyle Haynes Mutual uncertainty and credible reassurance: experimental evidence International Interactions Volume 46 Issue 4
Abstract: Recent theoretical work has suggested that mutual uncertainty of a particular kind can promote credible reassurance and cooperation among states with compatible preferences. Specifically, on issues where cooperation is subjective, such that states are uncertain what types of actions the other will view as cooperative, credible reassurance is straightforward. This finding, if correct, has profound implications for the scope and severity of the security dilemma, suggesting that misplaced suspicion due to uncertainty can be readily overcome under a range of realistic conditions. We present the results of a laboratory experiment testing this important theoretical claim, and find broad support for it. When cooperation is subjective, mutual uncertainty induces senders to signal their true preferences and allows receivers to form more accurate beliefs about the sender's type. Importantly, however, mutual uncertainty did not increase receivers' confidence in their assessments of the sender's type. Thus, receivers responded appropriately as signals became more credible, but failed to recognize that their beliefs had become more accurate. This distinction between the accuracy and confidence of beliefs has broad implications for international relations theory and social science methodology.


Fisher, Denise The Indo-Pacific, France and Australia’s bushfire crisis The Strategist


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