As a political and social scientist I study the underlying causality of political and collective behavior to understand why and how special interest groups become policy demanders. To pursue my research I employ quantitative and computational methodologies, field research, both physical and virtual, and content analysis.
My research builds on the extant literature in political behavior to generate insight into previously unexamined topics, contribute to emerging theory, and inform discussions of special interest groups and their impact on policy and political processes.
Movement Elites & Communication
My first project asks: do movement elites use affect to motivate political participation? I address this question by examining how affect is used in an interest group periodical, the Gay Community News. While much of the existing literature on affect in political and social movements confirms the existence of affect in activism and its strategic deployment in political organizing, little work explicates the role affect plays in the formation of political claims or its use as a tactic to potentially motivate political participation.
Using content analysis to extract measures of affect, frame, and type of claim, I find that contrary to traditional wisdom, affect, specifically anger emotions, are not a relevant factor in calls to action. While examining affect in a special interest group periodical does not reveal the affective nature of occurred participation, it does reveal if and how affect was deployed through intentional framing in an attempt to achieve collective goals.
To that end, I make the case that anger emotions are present in political writing in a special interest periodical, but that anger is not deployed intentionally in calls to action and like other affective modes, is an ephemeral and ubiquitous component of interest group communication.
My second project addresses the neglected `B' in LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer). Sexuality is largely seen through a binary lens - straight or not - and research has often placed bisexuality in the ``not straight" group. Contestation over priorities and strategies occurs between the factions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual,transgender, and queer movement. The `B' is treated as if it were silent. Bisexual movement priorities have often been presented as little more than demands for acceptance from the other members of the LGBTQ community.
The now accepted paradigm is one where bisexuals are not politically active and move between the uncontested, heterosexual realm and the roster of demands from the ``not straight" world. In my research, I present evidence of a politically active and astute bisexual community that is nested, not in the traditionally defined LGBTQ movement, but rather in the Polyamory and BDSM communities.
Using survey data and in depth open-ended questions, I find that self-described bisexuals comprise up to one-half of the polyamory community and perhaps as much as two-thirds of the BDSM community. These communities are politically aware and politically active, and the bisexuals within them have specific claims and strategic preferences.
My future research will seek to create and analyze logical and predictive models of political behavior in order to determine how special interest groups become policy demanders. My future research is motivated by the question: How do policy demanding groups move political systems in their favor in order to rectify perceived injustices?
Furthermore, related questions that I am interested in investigating pertain to how interest group activity is confined to political parties and to what extent do they influence political parties in direct ways such as petitions, social activism, and professional lobbying? How do interest groups work within parties to achieve goals? How do interest groups choose to directly engage the political system and parties rather than achieve change through purely social activism? How do internal decision-making processes affect the success of a movement and can certain mathematical models determine a group's future success?
tl;dr: I have many interests but I focus on special interest groups, political & social movements, and political activism. Methodologically, I am interested in combining qualitative evidence with formal modeling and quantitative approaches.