Studying Contingency Systematically

Prepared for Governing in a Polarized Age: Elections, Parties, and Political Representation in America, edited by Alan Gerber and Eric Schickler, Cambridge University Press, 2014 Forthcoming

27 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2014

See all articles by Jennifer L. Hochschild

Jennifer L. Hochschild

Harvard University; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Katherine Levine Einstein

Boston University

Date Written: April 30, 2014

Abstract

In a series of articles and books, David Mayhew has argued convincingly that "in the realm of primitive building blocks, there is a case for ranking events as the equals of interests and preferences in a seriously explanatory political science." We develop that insight byexamining the cases of gun control, global warming, and others. Our goal is to determine when and how unique events can spur opinion change, and when and how such opinion change can eventuate in new laws, rules, or rulers. We do not fully succeed, since the task is too great for a single chapter. But the cases enable us to develop a decision tree with crucial points for empirical study, in order to help scholars develop more systematic understandings of when, how, and why, contingency matters in political processes and outcomes.

Keywords: political contingency, gun control, global warming, public opinion, policy outcomes

Suggested Citation

Hochschild, Jennifer L. and Einstein, Katherine Levine, Studying Contingency Systematically (April 30, 2014). Prepared for Governing in a Polarized Age: Elections, Parties, and Political Representation in America, edited by Alan Gerber and Eric Schickler, Cambridge University Press, 2014 Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2476067

Jennifer L. Hochschild (Contact Author)

Harvard University ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-0181 (Phone)
617-495-0438 (Fax)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Katherine Levine Einstein

Boston University ( email )

232 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
United States

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