Frontiers in Political Science

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EISSN : 2673-3145
Current Publisher: Frontiers Media SA (10.3389)
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Total articles ≅ 79
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Jenna M. Hartley, Katelyn M. Higgins, M. Nils Peterson, Kathryn T. Stevenson, Megan W. Jackson
Frontiers in Political Science, Volume 3; doi:10.3389/fpos.2021.636583

Abstract:
This perspective article is divided between the account of an emerging youth political activist, Katelyn Higgins, and the subsequent collaborative research project she coordinated. After 10 years of experience in youth political action, Higgins worked with co-authors to develop a qualitative study to explore the processes underlying youth influence over local environmental policymaking. We present findings from that study to supplement her perspective. The study supported fourth and fifth grade teachers by offering a marine debris curriculum which encouraged students to share their knowledge with local community members through environmental activism events. At the first event, students aged 8–10 presented at a town hall meeting; we interviewed 16 adults in attendance. The second “event” was a series of video PSAs (Public Service Announcements) in which students from across the state of North Carolina, United States, explained the harms of marine debris. Those PSAs were emailed to local officials; we conducted follow-up interviews with two officials. Four themes emerged to characterize how adults responded to youth environmental activism: young people were inspiring; adults want to support young people; and adults view young people as able to provide leadership for local action and challenge the establishment. Youth leaders and those looking to support them should be encouraged by these results, as they suggest adults, including local public officials, consider youth voices valuable and uniquely situated to foster productive political processes for addressing marine debris. Future research should continue to explore the degree to which positive feelings expressed by adults translate to action.
Frontiers in Political Science, Volume 3; doi:10.3389/fpos.2021.678526

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Spain has been one of the hardest hit countries by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this crisis presented a window of opportunity for VOX, as it has for other far right parties, to raise its visibility as opposition force. This paper investigates whether the discourse of VOX has evolved during the pandemic and affected the political dynamics in Spain. This article proposes a new multidimensional strategy to measure the degree of populism in political communications, via quantitative and qualitative content analysis. It dissects the parliamentary speeches of the leader of VOX, Santiago Abascal, in the debates for the approval and extension of the “state of alarm” to fight against COVID-19 between March and June 2020. In order to assess the changes and relative intensity of populist features in Abascal’s parliamentary speeches we compared them with his speech during Pedro Sánchez’s investiture session as the Spanish President of the Government, in January 2020, and VOX’s latest political manifestos—2019 European and Spanish General Elections—, as well as with speeches of the representatives of the five main parties and coalitions during the COVID-19 debates in the Spanish Congress.Our paper shows that populists’ discourses are context-dependent and that their performances are not only shaped by crisis but also constitutive of crisis. The density of populist references in Abascal’s speeches grew steadily during the period analysed. Morality and antagonism overshadowed sovereignty and society as key populist attributes, and the tone of the discourse became increasingly hyperbolic. Moreover, Abascal’s discursive performances had a sort of contagion effect in other parties in the parliamentary sessions studied. People’s Party (Partido Popular–PP) leader Pablo Casado chose to follow VOX and harshly criticized the government, meanwhile the discourses of the speakers of Together We Can (Unidas Podemos–UP) and Catalan Republican Left (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya–ERC), adopted a demonizing rhetoric against VOX and PP also grounded on a populist logic of articulation. This polarizing dynamic between competing Manichean discourses contributed to reinforce the sense of crisis by adding a political dimension to the already existing health and economic problems.
, Mark Pickup
Frontiers in Political Science, Volume 3; doi:10.3389/fpos.2021.647957

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A growing number of Americans stay informed about current events through social media. But using social media as a source of news is associated with increased likelihood of being misinformed about important topics, such as COVID-19. The two most popular platforms—Facebook and YouTube—remain relatively understudied in comparison to Twitter, which tends to be used by elites, but less than a quarter of the American public. In this brief research report, we investigate how cognitive reflection can mitigate the potential effects of using Facebook, YouTube and Twitter for news on subsequent conspiracy theory endorsement. To do that, we rely on an original dataset of 1,009 survey responses collected during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, on March 31, 2020. We find that using Facebook and YouTube for news increases conspiracy belief (both general and COVID-19 specific), controlling for cognitive reflection, traditional news media use, use of web-based news media, partisanship, education, age, and income. We also find that the impact of Facebook use on conspiracy belief is moderated by cognitive reflection. Facebook use increases conspiracy belief among those with low cognitive reflection but has no effect among those with moderate levels of cognitive reflection. It might even decrease conspiracy belief among those with the highest levels of cognitive reflection.
Frontiers in Political Science, Volume 3; doi:10.3389/fpos.2021.656731

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The purpose of this paper is to examine the Hungarian Fidesz-KDNP government´s discursive practices of control and care during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper researches the Hungarian government’s communication on the official Hungarian COVID-19 Facebook page during the first wave of the pandemic. Its aim is to answer the question how the Hungarian government articulated control and care to reinforce sedimented gendered division of care work and institutions of control to tackle the potential disruption of the system of care before the widespread vaccination of the elderly population was available in the country. The paper argues that the pandemic has allowed the government to exert control in areas, such as the crisis in the workforce market and health care system, as well as in the destabilized system of care work. The main finding is that in the material the government performs control over care work, whose intensified discussion during the pandemic could lead to a potential disruption within the illiberal logic on two different levels. First, physical care work related to immediate physical needs, like hunger, clothing, pain enacted by female shoppers, female health care workers and female social workers, is newly defined during the pandemic as local, family-bound and a naturally female task. Second, the government articulates care work, either as potentially harmful (for the elderly population and thus indirectly to the government’s familialist politics), or as vulnerable and in need of protection from outside influences (portrayed through the interaction of health care workers and “hospital commanders”). This enables the government to perform full state control over care workers through the mobilization of police and military masculinity and to strengthen and re-naturalize the already existing hierarchies between traditional gender roles from a new perspective during the pandemic. This state of affairs highlights the vulnerability both of the elderly population, on whom its familialism builds, and of the system of informal care work, which builds on the unpaid care work of female citizens, who paradoxically are also articulated as potential harm for the elderly and for the system.
, Thania Paffenholz
Frontiers in Political Science, Volume 3; doi:10.3389/fpos.2021.691999

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Peace and democracy are intertwined concepts. Immanuel Kant, writing in 1796, proposed that, if ‘the consent of the citizens is required to decide whether or not war is to be declared, it is very natural that they will have great hesitation in embarking on so dangerous an enterprise’. Kant therefore suggested that a ‘republican constitution’ offers the potential to achieve ‘a perpetual peace’ (translation by Nisbet, 1991, 100). In more recent decades, the notion that ‘democratic or liberal states never or very rarely go to war with each other’ (Gat, 2006, 73) has been further developed and debated. Nevertheless, peace studies and democracy studies have tended to take different directions. Academic research on the attainment of peaceful societies and democracy remains underdeveloped. Furthermore, the consequences and implications of achieving peace and democracy, and the wide variety of actors involved, lack conceptualization. The interactions between these processes and actors with the wide range of political regimes developed across the globe remain on the agenda of scholars and policymakers. This essay outlines a number of the key challenges facing peace and democracy studies as we enter the new decade of the 2020s. It aspires to advance our understanding of crucial empirical and theoretical questions and to establish a better dialogue between the fields of peace studies and democracy studies. We see the need to address the following, among many, key challenges in the field of peace studies over the coming years: The crisis of liberal peacebuilding: what comes next? The tenets of the ‘liberal peace’ dominated peacebuilding academia and practice in the 1990s, guiding peace process designs aimed at achieving multi-party democratic systems characterized by ‘the rule of law, human rights, free and globalized markets and neo-liberal development’ (Richmond, 2006, 292). However, the liberal peacebuilding project and its ‘linear cause-effect problem-solving model’ are now widely deemed to be in ‘profound crisis’ (Randazzo and Torrent, 2020, 3; De Coning, 2018, 302; Paffenholz, 2021) and the peace agreements struck in the heyday of liberal peacebuilding in the early 1990s have rarely produced lasting peace (Jarstad et al., 2015). Similarly, the democratization efforts of the 1990s proved a disappointment, frequently culminating in the consolidation of non-democratic regimes and autocracies, democratic backsliding and a rise in populism. Academics have long recognized the more turbulent reality of peacemaking and peacebuilding (e.g. Paffenholz, 2021; Jarstad et al., 2019, 2; De Coning, 2018, 301; Bell and Pospisil, 2017, 583, 577; Rocha Menocal, 2017, 561, 567; Lederach, 2005, 118) while policymakers and donors, too, have embraced a more pragmatic, flexible and context-driven approach–at least in theory–termed the ‘sustaining peace agenda’ (e.g. UN, 2015a; UN, 2015b; EU, 2016; World Bank and UN, 2018). However, practitioners appear reluctant to abandon the linear, liberal peacebuilding model (Mahmoud et al., 2018; Autesserre, 2019; Ross, 2020; Paffenholz, 2021). While researchers have proposed ‘local peacebuilding’ as an alternative (Lederach, 2005; Mac Ginty and Richmond, 2013), this approach has also been criticized for essentializing and romanticizing the ‘local’ and neglecting power dynamics (Heathershaw, 2013; Paffenholz, 2015). There is a clear need for new peacebuilding paradigms that encourage and facilitate international and local peacebuilders to embrace a transformation in their practice. Interrogating the ‘inclusion project’. The notion that both peacemaking and peacebuilding must be inclusive can now be considered to be a predominant international norm (De Waal et al., 2017, 165; Turner, 2020). Numerous UN resolutions, frameworks and reports advocate the centrality of inclusion, from UNSCR Resolution 1325 (2000) to Resolution 2535 (2020). However, existing comparative research into the effects of inclusive peacemaking has faced criticism for its failure to establish a causal link between inclusion and sustainable peace (Pospisil, 2019, 99–100; De Waal et al., 2017, 180) and it has also been claimed that the notion of ‘inclusion enables peacebuilding policy to uphold the appearance of agency’ (Pospisil, 2019, 92) while merely make superficial changes to practice (Paffenholz et al., 2016; Paffenholz, 2021). This can be compared with the manner in which autocracies may include ‘human rights’ clauses in their constitutions in a bid to imitate democracies.1 More worrying, however, is a failure to distinguish between process and outcomes. It is not yet clear whether, and if so how, inclusive peacemaking and peacebuilding set communities on pathways toward more inclusive societies. As Rocha Menocal (2017, 560) has asked: ‘where do more inclusive institutions come from in the first place? How and why do they emerge and evolve over time, and how can they be nurtured?’ Castillejo (2014, 3) has also pointed out that, ‘in many cases, excluded groups’ participation in the peace process has not translated into significantly improved outcomes’. There is a clear need to interrogate whether the current inclusion modalities (Paffenholz, 2014) can truly pave the way toward more inclusive societies and, if not, what forms of peacemaking, peacebuilding and democracy promotion can do so. Re-defining peace and finding new methods. Johan Galtung famously distinguished between negative peace, ‘the absence of violence,’ and positive peace, ‘the integration of human society’ (Galtung, 1964, 2). Notably, the integration of society, and accountability to this society, are key elements in the foundation of democracy. However, as Söderström et al. (2020, 1) have...
Frontiers in Political Science, Volume 3; doi:10.3389/fpos.2021.654069

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Drawing from interpretive, namely discursive-performative approaches to both institutional and grassroots (populist) politics, this article explores political performances and counter-performances of control in Germany during the so-called first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Methodologically, the article constructs a comparative analytical framework including three cases from both within and outside of the federal institutional structure of Germany: at the institutional level, the cases comprise Angela Merkel, long-term federal Chancellor of Germany, and Michael Kretschmer, the regional Governor of the state of Saxony; at the grassroots level, the selected case is the populist protest movement “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident” (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, PEGIDA). Based on original empirical data generated using the toolkit of qualitative-interpretive methodology, notably online ethnography, the comparative analysis focuses on a few key counter-performances of control, among them a TV address (Merkel), a visit to an “anti-lockdown” demonstration (Kretschmer), and virtual protest events (PEGIDA). Emphasizing the performed, dynamic, and contested character of political control in Germany in spring 2020, the empirical analysis yields the following results: first, it sheds light on the different political styles of performing and contesting institutional control, including the habitus, modes, and (emotional) tones of the communication of the performers, and the scripts, stages, intended audiences as (imagined) constituencies, and modalities of transmission of their performances. Second, the discourse-theoretical perspective of the analysis reveals that political performances of control were closely linked to articulations of democracy as an empty signifier, and to claims for safeguarding democratic principles as such. Third, the article demonstrates the value of interpretive approaches to politics to generate more nuanced understandings of the relationships between the pandemic, democracy, and populism in a situation of an ultimate lack of control.
, Michael Marshall, Thomas V. A. Stocks, Ryan McKay, Kate Bennett, Sarah Butter, Jilly Gibson Miller, Philip Hyland, Liat Levita, Anton P. Martinez, et al.
Frontiers in Political Science, Volume 3; doi:10.3389/fpos.2021.642510

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COVID-19 conspiracy theories have proliferated during the global pandemic, and their rapid spread among certain groups may jeopardize the public health response (e.g., undermining motivation to engage in social distancing and willingness to vaccinate against the virus). Using survey data from two waves of a nationally representative, longitudinal study of life in lockdown in the United Kingdom (N = 1,406), we analyze the factors associated with belief in three origin theories related to COVID-19, namely that it 1) originated in a meat market in Wuhan, China; 2) was developed in a lab in Wuhan, China; and 3) is caused by 5G mobile networks. Our findings suggest that political-psychological predispositions are strongly associated with belief in conspiracy theories about the virus, though the direction and effect sizes of these predictors vary depending on the specific content of each origin theory. For instance, belief in the Chinese lab conspiracy theory is strongly associated with right-wing authoritarianism (RWA), social dominance orientation (SDO), and general conspiracy ideation, as well as less reliable news sources, distrust in scientists, and anxiety about the pandemic. Belief in the 5G network conspiracy theory is strongly associated with SDO, distrust in scientists, while less strongly with conspiracy ideation and information from social networks/media; RWA is strongly negatively associated with belief in the 5G conspiracy theory, with older and more wealthy individuals somewhat less likely to endorse it. The meat market origin theory is predicted by intolerance of uncertainty, ethnocentrism, COVID-19 anxiety, and less so by higher income, while distrust in scientists is negatively associated with this origin story. Finally, belief in COVID-19 conspiracy theories is associated with negative public health behaviors such as unwillingness to social distance and vaccinate against the virus. Crucially, our findings suggest that the specific content of COVID-19 conspiracy theories likely determines which individuals may be most likely to endorse them.
, Sedona Chinn, Kaiping Chen
Frontiers in Political Science, Volume 3; doi:10.3389/fpos.2021.642394

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People are increasingly exposed to science and political information from social media. One consequence is that these sites play host to “alternative influencers,” who spread misinformation. However, content posted by alternative influencers on different social media platforms is unlikely to be homogenous. Our study uses computational methods to investigate how dimensions we refer to as audience and channel of social media platforms influence emotion and topics in content posted by “alternative influencers” on different platforms. Using COVID-19 as an example, we find that alternative influencers’ content contained more anger and fear words on Facebook and Twitter compared to YouTube. We also found that these actors discussed substantively different topics in their COVID-19 content on YouTube compared to Twitter and Facebook. With these findings, we discuss how the audience and channel of different social media platforms affect alternative influencers’ ability to spread misinformation online.
Frontiers in Political Science, Volume 3; doi:10.3389/fpos.2021.637912

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The emotional and ideological factor to express solidarity with the other developing countries is the main driving factor for India to engage in development assistance. In the changed geopolitical and geo-economic context in the globalized world, the economic factor of access to the market for Indian products and natural resources for its growing industrial sector became the additional motivation. As India does not subscribe to peacebuilding, it has no separate category of peacebuilding assistance. This study’s central focus is on why India’s way of providing development and peacebuilding assistance captured the world’s attention in the 21st century and how India’s ways are different from that of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries. It highlights India’s unique guiding principles, approaches, and modalities for development and peacebuilding assistance. It focuses on why the developing countries appreciated India’s development and peacebuilding assistance, although it is not much in terms of volume compared to the Development Assistance Committee countries. It emphasizes the advantages of accepting diversity instead of an attempt for uniformity in peacebuilding assistance.
Emiliana De Blasio,
Frontiers in Political Science, Volume 3; doi:10.3389/fpos.2021.661378

Abstract:
The article charts the notion of statehood emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, considering the emotional repertoire and the themes addressed in the government’s crisis communication. The conception and performance of statehood and power in Italy during the COVID-19 emergency rely on four interrelated nodal points: (1) the state’s relationship to citizens, (2) the state’s relationship to regions and local governments, (3) the state’s relationship to politics and the Italian parliament, and (4) the state within international sphere. For each of those nodal points, we have analyzed relevant themes and rhetorical devices following a discourse-historical approach (DHA). Specific efforts have been made to identify the emotional repertoire mobilized by the Italian government in its communication. In the interplay between the dramatic context of crisis and an enduring trend toward the personalization of the government’s leadership, the source of legitimacy has shifted from traditional democratic procedures to the use of emotional capital. The analysis of the Italian government’s communication reveals the features of the emotional capital used during the pandemic, like the ability to display empathy toward citizens’ sufferings, the will to engage in dialog with social stakeholders, confidence in expertise, and the pride and determination to negotiate within the EU. The article concludes that the performance of the prime minister in expressing his emotional states has nurtured the conception of post-COVID statehood, consolidating his individual leadership and flawing the spaces of political conflict.
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