Here are summaries of my published work. For highlights of current projects, see other pages in the menu.
Djupe, Paul, Amy Erica Smith, and Anand Edward Sokhey. 2022. The Knowledge Polity: Research and Teaching in the Social Sciences. Oxford University Press.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2019. Religion and Brazilian Democracy: Mobilizing the People of God. Cambridge University Press.
Lucio Rennó, Amy Erica Smith, Matthew L. Layton, & Frederico Batista Pereira. 2011. Legitimidade e Qualidade da Democracia no Brasil: Uma Visão da Cidadania. São Paulo: Editora Intermeios.
Articles and Chapters
Cohen, Mollie, Smith, Amy Erica, Mason Moseley, and Matthew Layton. Forthcoming. “Winners’ Consent: Citizen Commitment to Democracy when Illiberal Candidates Win Elections.” American Journal of Political Science.
Democracy is in decline worldwide, primarily because voters elect candidates harboring anti-democratic aspirations. Scholars argue that elections animate the democratic spirits of winners and deflate those of losers, but what about contests ending in the victory of authoritarian candidates? To answer this question, we consider the dynamics of commitment to democracy in Brazil’s 2018 presidential campaign. Drawing on AmericasBarometer data and an original five-wave panel survey, we confirm that Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign attracted skeptics of democracy. While his election and inauguration boosted his supporters’ allegiance to the political system, it also exacerbated their tolerance for institutional ruptures such as executive-led coups. Meanwhile, election losers retained their democratic commitments. As a result, the authoritarian victory narrowed preexisting winner-loser gaps in support for the political system, but widened gaps in tolerance for certain anti-democratic maneuvers. Thus, authoritarian electoral victories can foster short term satisfaction among democracy’s critics, while abetting future instability.
Smith, Amy Erica, Heidi Hardt, and Shauna Gillooly. 2021. “Assessing Racial/Ethnic and Gender Gaps in Political Science PhD Students’ Methodological Self-efficacy.” PS: Political Science & Politics.
Most research on diversity within political methodology focuses on gender while overlooking racial and ethnic gaps. Our study investigates how race/ethnicity and gender relate to political science PhD students’ methodological self-efficacy, as well as their general academic self-efficacy. By analyzing a survey of 300 students from the top 50 US-based political science PhD programs, we find that race and ethnicity correlate with quantitative self-efficacy: students identifying as Black/African American and as Middle Eastern/North African express lower confidence in their abilities than white students. These gaps persist after accounting for heterogeneity among PhD programs, professional and socioeconomic status, and preferred methodological approach. However, small bivariate gender gaps disappear in multivariate analysis. Furthermore, gaps in quantitative self-efficacy may explain racial/ethnic disparities in students’ broader academic self-efficacy. We argue that the documented patterns likely lead to continued underrepresentation of marginalized groups in the political methodology student body and professoriate.
Mayka, Lindsay R. and Amy Erica Smith. 2021. “The Grassroots Right in Latin America: Patterns, Causes, and Consequences.” Latin American Politics and Society 63(3): 1-20. (introductory essay of special issue).
After a decade of leftist governments, the Latin American right is resurgent. While rightist and center-rightist politicians and parties have come to power in a number of countries, the shift is most significant at the grassroots. This special section of Latin American Politics and Society is dedicated to understanding the “grassroots right”: the diverse citizens, civil society associations, and religious groups engaged in activism to support right-wing issues. Their causes range from restricting abortion, affirmative action, and LGBTQ+ rights to expanding gun rights and violently repressing crime to supporting free markets and opposing redistribution.
This introductory essay poses four sets of questions on the nature, origins, and impacts of the grassroots right in Latin America. First, what is the grassroots right? We identify the range of issues, identities, and claims embraced by the grassroots right in contemporary Latin America. What unites them, we argue, is an affirmation of traditional social hierarchies, whether patriarchal, heteronormative, cisgender, economic, religious, or ethnic and racial, often defined in reaction against progressive social actors seeking to level them.
Gillooly, Shauna, Heidi Hardt, and Amy Erica Smith. 2021. “Having Female Role Models Correlates with PhD Students’ Attitudes Toward Their Own Academic Success.” PLOS ONE 16(8): e0255095.
Research indicates that increasing diversity in doctoral programs can positively affect students’ academic success. However, little research examines students’ responses to female scholars’ representation. The two studies presented here examine how students’ exposure to female academic role models shapes students’ attitudes toward their own academic success (i.e. self-efficacy). Such attitudes are critical because they predict student retention rates. In our first study, we randomly exposed 297 Ph.D. students in one academic discipline to either a gender-diverse (i.e. 30% female authors) or non-diverse syllabus in research methods (i.e. 10% female authors). We examined the effect of the intervention on students’ perceived likelihood of succeeding in the hypothetical course. Contrary to expectations derived from the literature, we found that increasing women’s representation in syllabi did not affect female students’ self-efficacy. Rather, male students expressed lower self-efficacy when evaluating the more gender-diverse syllabus. We also found that students’ attitudes toward diversity in academia predicted their reactions more strongly than did their own gender: gender-diverse syllabi reduced self-efficacy among those students unsupportive of diversity. In our second study, we analyzed non-interventional survey questions to examine the relationship between female role models and long-term academic self-efficacy. Analysis was observational and thus did not assess causality. We found that students with more role models have higher academic self-efficacy, irrespective of student and role model gender. Nonetheless, results also suggested that some students actively seek female role models: namely, female students, and particularly those valuing diversity. Our results ulti- mately suggest that exposure to female role models relates in surprising ways to Ph.D. students’ self-efficacy. Having more female role models correlates with greater expectations of academic success among certain groups of students, but with diminished expectations of academic success among other groups.
Velasco Guachalla, Ximena, Calla Hummel, Handlin, Samuel, and Amy Erica Smith. 2021. “When Does Competitive Authoritarianism Take Root?” Journal of Democracy 32(3): 63-77.
Democratically elected as Bolivia’s first indigenous president in 2005, Evo Morales eroded democracy and began a transition to competitive authoritarianism in the 2010s. By November 2020, however, both Morales and his successor, the right-wing president Jeanine Áñez, had fallen after failing to consolidate authoritarian rule. Why do some aspiring authoritarians succeed while many fail? A comparison of Bolivia to Brazil and Venezuela illuminates the challenges of both eroding democracy and institutionalizing new competitive authoritarian regimes. Aspiring autocrats must mobilize and control civil society in both stages of autocratization—a challenge that led to the fall of both Morales and Áñez.
Honig, Lauren, Amy Erica Smith, and Jaimie Bleck. 2021. “What Stymies Action on Climate Change? Religious Institutions, Marginalization, and Efficacy in Kenya.” Perspectives on Politics. FirstView.
Addressing climate change requires coordinated policy responses that incorporate the needs of the most impacted populations. Yet even communities that are greatly concerned about climate change may remain on the sidelines. We examine what stymies some citizens’ mobilization in Kenya, a country with a long history of environmental activism and high vulnerability to climate change. We foreground efficacy—a belief that one’s actions can create change—as a critical link transforming concern into action. However, that link is often missing for marginalized ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious groups. Analyzing interviews, focus groups, and survey data, we find that Muslims express much lower efficacy to address climate change than other religious groups; the gap cannot be explained by differences in science beliefs, issue concern, ethnicity, or demographics. Instead, we attribute it to understandings of marginalization vis-à-vis the Kenyan state—understandings socialized within the local institutions of Muslim communities affected by state repression.
Layton, Matthew, Amy Erica Smith, Mason Moseley, and Mollie Cohen. 2021. “Demographic Polarization and the Rise of the Far Right: Brazil’s 2018 Presidential Election.” Research and Politics. 8(1): 2053168021990204.
Does the recent electoral success of far-right populists represent a mere rejection of the political and economic status quo, or has it revealed deeper cultural divides? Historically, demographic cleavages have been poor predictors of vote choice and partisanship in Latin America. However, during Brazil’s 2018 presidential election campaign, right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro fomented conflict across lines of gender, race, and religion. We argue that his candidacy activated latent, previously unexploited grievances in the electorate. Using survey data from an original five-wave online panel conducted between July 2018 and January 2019, we examine the effect of demographic cleavages on presidential vote choice. In stark contrast to prior elections, we find clear evidence of demographic divides in 2018, partially mediated by issue positions. Bolsonaro’s campaign and subsequent election thus appear to have created new identity-based alignments in Brazil’s electorate. Our findings shed further light on the global resurgence of the far right, suggesting that far-right candidates can attract new bases of support through demographic polarization, exploiting differences in values and issue preferences by gender, race, ethnicity, and religion.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2020. “Covid vs. Democracy: Brazil’s Populist Playbook.” Journal of Democracy 31(4): 76-90.
Reprinted in Portuguese as: “A cartilha populista brasileira.” Journal of Democracy em Português 9(2).
Covid-19 has had unambiguously tragic human consequences in Brazil, which have been exacerbated by President Jair Bolsonaro’s “executive underreach” in failing to follow public-health guidance. Yet the democratic impacts are mixed. On the one hand, the health crisis may have diminished the risk of military intervention, belying Bolsonaro’s expressed support for military insurrection and encouraging elites to resist his “performative golpismo.” On the other hand, the pandemic has furthered societal polarization and encouraged citizens to interpret even information on matters of immediate personal health through partisan filters. If the pandemic is a crucible, Brazil’s democracy will likely emerge brittle but intact.
Rosenberg, Emma, and Amy Erica Smith. 2020. “What Drives Religious Politicking? An Analysis of 24 Democratic Elections.” Politics & Religion. *Supplemental Information
Why do clergy talk with congregants about elections to a greater extent in Mozambique than Indonesia, or in the United States than Taiwan? Arguing that context shapes religious actors’ micro-level incentives to discuss or avoid electoral politics, we seek to explain variation in religious politicking—religious leaders’ and organizations’ engagement in electoral campaigns. Our framework integrates individual-level and country-level approaches, as well as theories of modernization, secularism, and religious competition. Drawing on survey data from 24 elections in 18 democracies in the Comparative National Elections Project, we find that human development depresses religious politicking, while secularism and religious pluralism boost it. However, “civilizational” differences in levels of religious politicking are muted and inconsistent. Finally, at the individual level, across the globe, citizens with higher levels of education are consistently more likely to receive political messages. Our results suggest the insights obtained from an approach emphasizing individuals embedded in contexts.
Djupe, Paul, Kim Quaile Hill, Amy Erica Smith, and Anand Edward Sokhey. 2020. “Personality and Productivity in Political Science.” Scientometrics 124(3): 2279-2300.
Research on the determinants of scholarly productivity is flourishing, driven both by long-standing curiosity about its wide variation, and by recent concern over race and gender inequalities. Beyond standard structural and demographic determinants of research output, some studies point to the role of individual psychology. We contribute to scholarship on personality and productivity by showing not only that personality matters, but when and for whom. Using an original, representative study of faculty from one discipline, political science, we propose and test several hypotheses about the “Big Five” personality determinants of productivity, as gauged through counts of publications, H-index scores, and citations. Controlling for a large number of familiar determinants (e.g., race, gender, rank, and institutional incentives), we find that conscientiousness predicts productivity, but that its effects are conditioned by openness to experience. More precisely, we discover that these two personality traits have compensatory effects, such that openness to experience and conscientiousness each matter most in the absence of the other. In addition, personality has heterogeneous impacts on productivity across different contexts; conscientiousness more strongly affects scholarly output in research-oriented institutions, while collaboration reduces the penalty associated with lack of conscientiousness.
Smith, Amy Erica, and Robin Globus Veldman. 2020. “Evangelical Environmentalists? Evidence from Brazil.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 59(2): 341-59.
While scholarship on the relationship between religions and environmental attitudes has been inconclusive, evangelical Protestants present an exception: they consistently report less environmental concern than other groups. However, prior studies have largely been conducted in the United States. Following a recent “contextual” turn, we revisit the assumption that universal cognitive and doctrinal factors drive the previously documented negative association between evangelicalism and environmental concern. Leveraging qualitative fieldwork, nationally representative surveys, and a survey experiment from Brazil, we find that evangelical and Pentecostal affiliation and church attendance are not associated with reduced environmental concern; that members of these groups simultaneously embrace otherworldly beliefs and advocate for this-worldly solutions to environmental problems; and that being primed to consider divine intervention increased support for environmental protection. Even in a tradition emphasizing orthodoxy, doctrine appears not to exert a universal influence, a finding we suggest results from different issue frames in the United States and Brazil.
Smith, Amy Erica, Heidi Hardt, Hannah June Kim, and Philippe Meister. 2020. “Gender, Race, Age and National Origin Predict Whether Faculty Assign Female-Authored Readings in Graduate Syllabi.” PS: Political Science & Politics 53(1): 100-106.
Numerous studies document female scholars’ underrepresentation in political science publications and citations, yet few examine graduate syllabi. In this study, we assess the impact of instructors’ individual characteristics (i.e., race, gender, and age) on which readings they assign. We use what is—to our knowledge—the largest dataset of graduate readings to date: the GRaduate Assignments DataSet (GRADS), with 75,601 readings from 840 syllabi in 94 US PhD programs. We report several findings. First, overall, instructors infrequently assign female-authored scholarship relative to the rates at which women publish. Second, instructors who are women, people of color, and those from more gender-equal countries assign significantly more female-authored readings than white male instructors and those from less gender-equal countries. Third, among women—but not men—older instructors assign more female-authored work. We suggest that women’s underrepresentation on syllabi may contribute to “the leaky pipeline,” which describes women’s attrition from academic careers.
“Government and Politics: Brazil.” 2020. Handbook of Latin American Studies 75. Library of Congress.
Boas, Taylor, and Amy Erica Smith. 2019. Looks Like Me, Thinks Like Me? Descriptive Representation and Opinion Congruence in Brazil. Latin American Research Review. *Appendix
This article argues that descriptive representation, or demographic similarities between legislators and the public, can provide effective substantive representation of citizens’ concerns. We examine representation through the lens of opinion congruence or alignment in the policy preferences of legislators and citizens sharing various identities. Congruence may result from shared material interests or from self-selection into an identity group on the basis of policy views, but it can also be a product of networks and organizations that socialize masses and elites into a common worldview. Though political parties were historically the most important agents of political socialization, we argue that religious organizations constitute a more powerful socializing force in many new democracies. Examining the case of Brazil, we draw on three legislative surveys and fifteen mass surveys to analyze congruence across seven issue areas. Legislators and voters from underrepresented groups—women, Afro-Brazilians, evangelical Christians, and those of lower social class—are generally closer in their opinions than those sharing a party or electoral district. Evangelicals are often the most congruent. Analyzing original surveys of congregations and clergy, we argue that this finding results from the socializing role of churches.
Smith, Amy Erica, Samuels, David J., & Carlin, Ryan E. 2020. “Review of Campaigns and Voters in Developing Democracies: Argentina in Comparative Perspective, by Noam Lupu, Virginia Oliveros, and Luis Schiumerini (editors).” Revista Latinamericana de Opinión Pública.
(Review) What drives voter choice? Does it boil down to group and partisan identities, alignment on key issues, judgments of incumbent performance, or crafty campaign messaging? Answers are not merely academic; they reveal what the electorate ex-pects of its representatives. Contributors to Campaigns and Voters in Developing Democracies, edited by Noam Lupu, Virginia Oliveros, and Luis Schiumerini, tackle these enduring questions with a case study of the 2015 elections in Argentina.
Al Subhi, Ahlam Khalfan, and Amy Erica Smith. 2019. Electing Women to New Arab Assemblies: The Roles of Gender Ideology, Islam, and Tribalism in Oman. International Political Science Review.
As Arab monarchies increasingly adopt and empower consultative assemblies, women’s representation varies markedly across countries. What leads citizens in these new electoral systems to vote for women? This study investigates the determinants of support for women’s representation using the first electoral survey ever conducted in Oman, prior to the October 2015 Majlis al Shura elections. It considers crossnationally recognized factors – gender ideology and religion – and tribalism, a factor heretofore largely unexplored. Confirming prior studies, citizens with traditional gender ideology are much less supportive of women’s representation. Developing a simultaneous equations model, we show that religiosity and tribalism shape gender ideology. Unlike in Western countries, education is unassociated with attitudes, and there is no generational shift towards equality; younger men are less supportive of women’s representation than are older men. Increasing women’s representation requires not only increasing citizen demand for female leaders, but also changing informal tribal and formal electoral institutions.
Hardt, Heidi, Amy Erica Smith, Hannah June Kim, and Philippe Meister. 2019. “The Gender Readings Gap in Political Science Graduate Training.” Journal of Politics 81(4): 1528-32.
What influences gender representation in assigned readings during graduate training? Whereas recent studies have identified gender gaps in citations and publications, less is known about the readings used to train future political scientists. Introducing a unique data set of 88,673 citations from 905 PhD syllabi and reading lists, we find that only 19% of assigned readings have female first authors. Scholarship by female scholars is underrepresented in all subfields, relative to several benchmarks. Both supply- and demand-side factors affect gender representation. First, representation of female-authored readings varies by the size of the pool of female scholars, over time and across subfields. Second, instructor gender and department composition affect demand for female-authored scholarship. As departments hire more female faculty, instructors of both genders become more likely to assign female-authored work. This article contributes an original data set to the study of graduate training and advances understanding of gender diversity in political science.
Djupe, Paul, Amy Erica Smith, and Anand Sokhey. 2019. “Explaining Gender in the Journals: How Submission Practices Affect Publication Patterns in Political Science.” PS: Political Science & Politics 52(1): 72-77.
In recent work, Teele and Thelen (2017) documented the underrepresentation of female-authored scholarship in a broad selection of political science journals. To better understand these patterns, we present the results of an original, individual-level survey of political scientists conducted in the spring of 2017. Confirming Teele and Thelen’s speculation, our evidence indicates that differences in submission rates underlie the gender gap in publication—a pattern particularly pronounced for the discipline’s “top three” journals. Leveraging original survey items, we pursue explanations of the submission gap, finding that both methodological specialization and attitudes toward publication strategies play roles. Importantly, we also conclude that men and women obtain differential returns on their investments in coauthorship: although male and female respondents report identical propensities to coauthor, coauthorship boosts submission and publication rates more strongly for men than women. We discuss the implications of our findings for ongoing conversations about inequality in political science.
Duque, Debora, and Amy Erica Smith. 2019. The Establishment Upside Down: A Year of Change in Brazil. Revista de Ciencia Politica. (A review of 2018, for the journal’s Political Yearbook)
2018 was a year of dramatic changes in Brazilian politics, as the established parties and actors that had dominated Brazilian politics for two decades were humbled. The year began with the administration of the extremely unpopular, lame duck President Michel Temer, and ended awaiting the inauguration of far-rightist President Jair Bolsonaro on January 1st, 2019. In this article, we describe and analyze the major events of 2018 in Brazilian politics. From the perspective of legislative and executive productivity, the year was largely uneventful, as President Michel Temer had spent most of his political capital mustering the legislative votes needed to avoid prosecution for corruption. Yet transformations were afoot in parties and civil society. Three of the country’s most traditionally important parties – the PT, PMDB, and PSDB – were decimated, and the PT’s icon and standard-bearer Lula da Silva imprisoned. Meanwhile, the right and far-right grew in importance, and Jair Bolsonaro won the presidency with the sponsorship of the previously extremely small Social Liberal Party (PSL).
Djupe, Paul, and Amy Erica Smith. 2019. “Experimentation in the Study of Religion and Politics.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion and Politics.
Experiments in religion and politics model a communication system with three elements: who (the sample) is exposed to what (the treatment) and with what potential effect (the outcome). Most experiments in religion and politics focus on one of three types of samples: clergy, the faithful within certain religious groups, or all citizens within a polity. At the core of the experiment is the randomized treatment: an independent variable that the researcher manipulates and randomly assigns to treatment groups that are supposed to be equivalent in all other respects. Certain kinds of treatments tend to be associated with certain kinds of hypothesized outcomes. That is, most experiments in religion and politics involve investigating either (a) how a randomized treatment related to religion affects a political outcome or (b) how a randomized treatment related to politics affects a religious
There are several types of religious treatments that closely mirror the actual insertion of religion into public life: manipulating candidates’ religious affiliations, behavior, and rhetoric; manipulating appeals attributed to religious elites and institutions; priming subjects’ own religious or political beliefs or manipulating other religious attributes of subjects; manipulating the characteristics of other citizens; and manipulating religious institutional cues received by clergy.
Experimental methods are everywhere now in the study of religion and politics and provide clear benefits for understanding how religion and politics interact. Perhaps most importantly, the method imposes intellectual rigor, helping scholars pin down theoretically and empirically the precise mechanisms involved in the mutual impact between religion and politics. In addition, experimental control enables scholars to assert more confidently the direction of influence among variables that in the real world plausibly influence each other.
Mamone, Ignacio, and Amy Erica Smith. 2019. “Crossing Borders: U.S. Foreign Policy toward Latin America.” In American Foreign Policy under Trump: Challenges, Changes and Continuity, eds. Richard Mansbach and James McCormick. New York: Routledge.
This chapter focuses on cross-border flows, both legal and illegal, between the U.S. and Latin America. People, goods, and services—from immigrants to automobiles to cocaine—all move between the countries of Latin America and the U.S. The wealth of the U.S., as well as its relatively high wages and standard of living, attract migration and business opportunities. In other words, some of the same forces that lead the U.S. to maintain a trade deficit with Latin America also make the U.S. a destination for immigrants as well as illicit drugs originating south of the border.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2018. Talking it Out: Political Conversation and Learning in Unequal Contexts. British Journal of Political Science. Online Appendix. Replication files.
In many contemporary urban spaces, political information accrues to high status neighborhoods. This might exacerbate political inequality as the information-rich and information-poor each talk primarily with others like themselves. When information is specific and broadly diffused through the media, however, the convenience and low cognitive costs of everyday conversation could be especially helpful for the disadvantaged. This article shows how political conversations intensify or ameliorate spatial knowledge gaps, using a six-wave panel survey in fifty Brazilian neighborhoods between 2002 and 2006. Multilevel models demonstrate that conversation was more frequent in high education neighborhoods, but had a greater impact on specific, factual knowledge in low-education neighborhoods, leading to shrinking knowledge gaps. However, conversation slightly widened spatial gaps in socially perceived general knowledge.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2018. “Religion, Politics, and the Secular State.” Routledge Handbook of Brazilian Politics.
How do religious groups and the Brazilian state shape each other? In the first part of this chapter, I review the evolution of Brazilian religious affiliation and religious organizations from colonial times through the present decade. Both state and transnational actors have influenced the religious marketplace. In the past two centuries, Brazil has transitioned from a state-imposed religious monopoly to market deregulation, and, in the recent democratic era, to a dramatic growth in religious competition. In the second part of the chapter, I examine the ways religious groups and beliefs affected democratization and continue to affect democratic politics in thepost-1985regime. At the level of civil society, both the Catholic Church and evangelical churches have been spurred by international religious movements and institutions, and by a growing awareness of the importance of democratic politics for their groups’ long-term interests, to adopt and promote activist political theologies. At the elite level, I trace the growth of the “bancada evangélica” and examine its behavior in office. Throughout the chapter, I reflect on the lessons from the Brazilian case for religious economy approaches to understanding religion and politics.
Anderson, Lemuel, Rachel Ramirez, and Amy Erica Smith. 2018. “Religion and Politics in Latin America.” Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science, ed. Sandy Maisel. New York: Oxford University Press.
Any study of religion and politics in Latin America needs to start with an understanding of what the religious groups are in Latin America, and how they are changing. The works in this section provide an overview of the religious groups in Latin America, as well as their major social characteristics and civic attitudes. The works also explore the social, economic, and political factors causing the dramatic demographic changes discussed in the introduction.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2017. Democratic Talk in Church: Religion and Political Socialization in the Context of Urban Inequality. World Development.
In new and developing democracies, levels of education are often low and many citizens lack experience with democratic processes. How do citizens in such political systems learn about elections and develop participatory orientations? Civil society organizations can promote political socialization, yet often fail to reach those lowest in resources. This article proposes that churches constitute an often overlooked instance of civil society, one that is highly inclusive and provides frequent opportunities for interaction. Such socialization can be especially important in low-income and low-education neighborhoods, where access to media and political information through everyday social networks is more limited. A case study of a municipal election campaign in a single Brazilian city reveals that exposure to political information in church is common, especially in evangelical churches and in low-education neighborhoods. Even more frequent than partisan discussion is promotion of non-partisan civic norms encouraging citizens to cast informed votes based on non-clientelistic criteria. Those exposed to civic and partisan messages know significantly more about the local campaign and are more likely to turn out. Messages encouraging a “conscientious vote” boost knowledge most strongly in low education neighborhoods, helping to equalize political information across the urban environment. This suggests that development professionals take churches seriously as sites of civic education.
Ames, Barry, Andy Baker, and Amy Erica Smith. 2017. Social Networks in the Brazilian Electorate. Oxford Handbook of Political Networks, eds. Jennifer Nicoll Victor, Mark Lubell, and Alexander H. Montgomery.
Research on social networks and voting behavior has been largely limited to long-established democracies. In young democracies with unstable party systems and low levels of mass partisan identification, such networks should be even more important. This chapter examines egocentric political discussion networks in Brazil, where political discussion is plentiful and exposure to disagreement is somewhat more frequent than in the United States. Over the course of campaigns, such conversation affects voting choices and helps citizens learn about candidates and their issue positions; networks are especially important for learning among low-status individuals. The chapter highlights the availability of two important panel data sets incorporating design elements that can improve inference regarding network effects: the 2002–2006 Two-City Brazilian Panel Study and the 2014 Brazilian Electoral Panel Survey.
Layton, Matthew L., and Amy Erica Smith. 2017. Is It Race, Class, or Gender? The Sources of Perceived Discrimination in Brazil. Latin American Politics and Society. *Online Appendix *Replication code. *Data can be obtained from the AmericasBarometer.
Observers have long noted Brazil’s distinctive racial politics: the coexistence of relatively integrated race relations and a national ideology of “racial democracy” with deep social inequalities along color lines. Those defending a vision of a nonracist Brazil attribute such inequalities to mechanisms perpetuating class distinctions. This article examines how members of disadvantaged groups perceive their disad- vantage and what determines self-reports of discriminatory experiences, using 2010 AmericasBarometer data. About a third of respondents reported experiencing discrimination. Consistent with Brazilian national myths, respondents were much more likely to report discrimination due to their class than to their race. Nonetheless, the respondent’s skin color, as coded by the interviewer, was a strong determinant of reporting class as well as race and gender discrimination. Race is more strongly associated with perceived “class” discrimination than is household wealth, education, or region of residence; female gender intensifies the association between color and discrimination.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2016. “When Clergy are Threatened: Catholic and Protestant Leaders and Political Activism in Brazil.” Politics and Religion. *Replication materials
In the past three decades, observers have noted a steady rise in religious leaders’ engagement in Brazilian politics. What motivates this new activism? One prominent theory focuses on threat from religious competitors; other scholars point to church-state relations or theologically-driven political grievances. I argue that because of institutional and theological differences, Catholic and Protestant clergy are motivated into political action by different kinds of threat. I draw on two question order experiments embedded in a face-to-face survey of clergy prior to Brazil’s 2014 election to examine how clergy react to threats from religious competition and from elected politicians. Threat from religious competition is associated with changes in topics of preaching among Catholics, who substitute social justice for personal morality messages. Protestant clergy instead react to ideological, policy-based threats, and secularization; these latter threats explain the much higher political engagement among Pentecostal and evangelical than Catholic clergy in 2014.
Cohen, Mollie, and Amy Erica Smith. 2016. Do Authoritarians Vote for Authoritarians? Evidence from Latin America. Research and Politics. *Supplementary Information. *Replication code. *Data can be obtained from the AmericasBarometer.
During the 2016 presidential election campaign in the United States, scholars argued that authoritarian visions of the family are associated with support for Donald Trump, a candidate also noted to exhibit authoritarian or illiberal tendencies. Though it is plausible that “authoritarian” citizens (defined by parenting attitudes) vote for “authoritarian” candidates (defined by disrespect for democratic institutions), past research provides relatively little guide regarding this relationship. One reason is that few US candidates announce overtly authoritarian views. Latin America, by contrast, has had many such candidates. We take advantage of this variation using the 2012 AmericasBarometer, which applied a battery of authoritarian parenting attitudes. We first describe mass authoritarianism across Latin America, showing it is associated with many social attitudes. We then examine authoritarians’ voting behavior, distinguishing between support for “mano dura” (“strong arm”) candidates, who are usually rightists, and for candidates threatening violations of general civil liberties, who are often leftists in Latin America. We find that authoritarians tend to vote for right-wing authoritarian candidates, while authoritarianism boosts support for candidates threatening civil liberty violations only among citizens identifying on the ideological right. Education is the most consistent determinant reducing support for both leftist and rightist authoritarian candidates.
Smith, Amy Erica, Katherine Warming, and Valerie M. Hennings. 2016. Refusing to Know a Woman’s Place: The Causes and Consequences of Rejecting Stereotypes of Women Politicians in Latin America. Politics, Groups, and Identities. *Replication code. Data can be obtained from the AmericasBarometer.
What are the sources and effects of gendered leadership stereotypes for women’s representation? We explore the role of stereotypes in shaping public attitudes toward women’s representation using AmericasBarometer survey data from 25 countries. We report three key results. First, the modal respondent in almost every country rejects gendered leadership stereotypes, affirming that women and men leaders are equally qualified on corruption and the economy. This holds even after we attempt to account for social desirability bias. Second, there are significant individual- and country-level determinants of stereotyping. In countries with higher women’s representation and labor force participation but without gender quotas, citizens are more likely to choose pro-female and neutral responses over pro-male stereotypes. At the individual level, those rejecting stereotypes are less authoritarian, more supportive of labor market equality, and more leftist than those reporting pro-female stereotypes. Third, the consequences for representation vary by partisanship and country context. Pro-female leadership stereotypes boost support for women presidential candidates and for legislative gender quotas, but they matter less among copartisans of women candidates, and they matter more when women candidates are viable but gendered outsiders. Those rejecting leadership stereotypes altogether are less supportive of quotas.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2016. “Review of New Centers of Global Evangelicalism in Latin America and Africa, by Stephen Offutt.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 55(2): 429-30.
(Review) The book’s motivating intuition is the important idea that globalization is not simply a matter of agentic actors from the Global North affecting co-religionists in the Global South. Rather, those co-religionists are themselves agents who take advantage of the resources at hand; create new religious resources, symbols, and organizational forms; and then themselves become agents of globalization.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2016. “Review of Politics, Religion, & Society in Latin America, by Daniel Levine.” Perspectives on Politics 14(1): 253-254.
(Review) Politics, Religion, and Society in Latin America is an expansive and masterful book. It is expansive in that it aims to cover a very large territory—50 years of changes in politics and religion across a diverse region—and largely succeeds in doing so. It is masterful in that its pace is driven by the depth and length of Levine’s personal and academic experience. The narrative jumps back and forth from broad historical overviews to in-depth case studies to theoretical discussions; detailed historical descriptions give way unexpectedly to interesting critiques of major recent studies and theoretical approaches. Insights often appear to be based on intuition resulting from decades of reading, observation, and thought, rather than on the particular evidence described in the book itself. Its comprehensiveness and apparently effortless synthesis of history and theory make this a very good overview of the field, one suitable both for researchers and for the classroom.
Layton, Matthew L. and Amy Erica Smith. 2015. Incorporating Marginal Citizens and Voters: The Conditional Electoral Effects of Targeted Social Assistance in Latin America. Comparative Political Studies 48(7): 854-81. *Replication files. *Data can be obtained from the AmericasBarometer. *Online appendix
In this paper we study how social assistance shapes election results across Latin America. Case studies in several countries have found electoral effects, yet it remains unclear whether and how effects vary cross-nationally, and whether electoral effects are due to mobilization or persuasion. We theorize that programs mobilize non-voters and convert the opposition simultaneously, but that the effects vary based on country-level political and programmatic differences. Using 2012 AmericasBarometer data, we develop a unified cross-national model that confirms that public assistance makes recipients more likely to turn out and, once at the polls, to vote for the incumbent. Compulsory voting laws and program politicization magnify the electoral effects of social assistance, but effects do not vary by presidential ideology or program conditionalities. These findings are consistent with the perspective that Latin American voters are boundedly rational, retrospective agents whose behavioral choices depend on their resources and environmental context.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2015. The Diverse Impacts of Politically Diverse Networks: Party Systems, Political Disagreement, and the Timing of Vote Decisions. International Journal of Public Opinion Research. Online appendix.
Boas, Taylor, and Amy Erica Smith. 2015. “Religion and the Latin American Voter.” In The Latin American Voter, eds. Ryan Carlin, Matthew Singer, and Liz Zechmeister. University of Michigan Press. *Supplemental materials and replication files for the book
What are the political implications of the increasing diversity and competitiveness of Latin America’s religious marketplace? As religious affiliations and practices become more varied, do the political preferences and behaviors of the religious and nonreligious, or Catholics and Protestants, diverge? In this chapter, we seek to understand how Latin Americans’ voting decisions are shaped by religion. In answering these questions, we provide what we believe to be the first systematic, survey-based examination of the role of religion across the entire region.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2014. Political Connections in the Americas. AmericasBarometer Insights 98.
In the Americas, as in much of the world, having political connections is often critical for one’s economic, social, and political chances of success. Access to politicians, however, is limited and often highly selective. In this Insights report, I explore the question of who knows and has access to politicians in the Americas. I find that nearly a third of citizens in the region report knowing personally a politician or someone who has run for local or national office. Not surprisingly, those individuals with personal access to the political world tend to be more politically active and civically engaged, and also are of a higher social status than those without such personal political connections. Where one lives also affects the chances of having political connections, with those living in smaller cities more likely to have ties with local politicians, and citizens of the smaller Latin American and Caribbean countries more likely to have connections with national-level politicians. These findings highlight the systematic, and non-representative, patterns of relationships between citizens and their representatives across the Americas that tend to exacerbate extant levels of political inequality.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2014. “Pastors and Politics: Brazilian Public Opinion Regarding Clergy Endorsements of Candidates.” AmericasBarometer Insights 113. *Replication code.
In the past two decades, observers have noted a steady rise in religious groups’ engagement in Brazilian elections. Evangelical and Pentecostal clergy in Brazil often endorse or campaign for candidates, or even run for office. This raises questions about how citizens perceive such efforts. Are clergy endorsements seen as a normal part of the pluralistic give-and-take of democratic politics? Or are they viewed as violations of secular norms? In this report, I explore public opinion from the 2014 AmericasBarometer in Brazil, conducted several months before that year’s presidential and legislative election campaign. At the time of the survey, Brazilians in all religious groups broadly opposed political engagement of clergy, yet minorities in each group felt clergy involvement in elections was justified. The analyses in this report show that support for clergy campaigning is related not so much to religious affiliation as to democratic attitudes and system support. Citizens who are more tolerant of contentious politics and more supportive of the current political system are more accepting of such involvement. However, citizens who more strongly support democracy in the abstract are less accepting of it.
Morrison, Penelope, Amy Erica Smith, and Aletha Akers. 2014. “Substance Abuse and Sexual Risk among At-Risk Adolescents in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais State, Brazil.” Cadernos de Saúde Pública 30(4): 794-804.
We examined the difference in prevalence of substance use and sexual risk behaviors among at-risk youth participants in programs offered by community-based organizations in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais State, Brazil, by gender and organization type (governmental vs. non-governmental). 388 adolescents were recruited from 25 intervention-based organizations servicing at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 17 in Juiz de Fora. Participants completed a 15-item survey assessing substance use and sexual risk behaviors, along with socio-demographic predictors of these behaviors. Males were more likely to report drug and alcohol use associated with homelessness and abandonment. Females were more likely to report sexual risk taking associated with neighborhood crime. Participants from non-governmental organizations were less likely to engage in all measured risk behaviors. The present analysis points to the need to understand how Brazil’s Child and Adolescent Act is being applied and the implications this has for intervention and the promotion of positive health outcomes for young people.
2014. “What Perpetuates Child Servitude? Public Opinion on Children’s Domestic Labor in Haiti.” AmericasBarometer Insights 103.
Barry Ames, Miguel García, and Amy Erica Smith. 2012. Keeping Up with the Souzas: Social Influence and Electoral Change in a Weak Party System, Brazil 2002-2006. Latin American Politics and Society. 54(2): 51-78.
Despite weak partisanship and considerable political change in the wake of the 2002 election, three-quarters of Brazilian voters supported a presidential candidate in 2006 from the same party they had backed in 2002. This article assesses the factors causing both electoral stability and electoral change with a transition model, a model testing whether the effects of respondents’ evaluative criteria depend on their initial vote choices. Social context—personal discussion networks, neighborhood influences, and the interactions of social networks and municipal context—is the major force promoting stability and change, while the impact of partisanship is limited to a small share of voters.
Lucio Rennó, Amy Erica Smith, Matthew L. Layton, & Frederico Batista Pereira. 2011. Legitimidade e Qualidade da Democracia no Brasil: Uma Visão da Cidadania. São Paulo: Editora Intermeios.
O que os cidadãos brasileiros pensam sobre o funcionamento da de-mocracia no Brasil? Quais são as áreas que mais os preocupam, com quais estão mais frustrados? Há áreas em que estejam satisfeitos? O sistema político favorece alguns bra-sileiros em detrimento de outros? Até que ponto o sistema político se caracteriza por desigualdades no engajamento cidadão com o mun-do político? Em suma, do ponto de vista dos cidadãos e cidadãs, o que podemos concluir sobre a qualidade da democracia no país? Essas são as questões centrais, todas intimamen-te ligadas ao tema mais amplo sobre como os brasileiros pensam acerca do funcionamento das instituições democráticas no Brasil, que serão exploradas neste livro. Essas pergun-tas são centrais para entendermos as visões e experiências dos cidadãos e cidadãs brasileiras com a política, sociedade e economia no país. As-sim, são questões fundamentais para um balanço amplo da vida demo-crática no pais hoje.
Layton, Matthew L. and Amy Erica Smith. 2011. Social Assistance Policies and the Presidential Vote in Latin America. AmericasBarometer Insights.
In this Insights report we use a cross-national analysis of nine Latin American countries to determine what correlations, if any, exist between participation in social assistance programs, including conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs, and support for the incumbent presidential candidate or party. We find that in almost every country examined, social assistance recipients are more likely to vote for the incumbent than non-recipients, even after accounting for social class, economic perceptions, and national context. These results highlight that social programs have political effects in addition to their social and economic effects.
Steven E. Finkel and Amy Erica Smith. 2011. Civic Education, Political Discussion, and the Social Transmission of Democratic Knowledge and Values in a New Democracy: Kenya 2002. American Journal of Political Science. 55(2): 417-435. Supporting Information. Replication code.
How does civic education affect the development of democratic political culture in new democracies? Using a unique three-wave panel data set from Kenya spanning the transitional democratic election of 2002, we posit a two-step process of the social transmission of democratic knowledge, norms, and values. Civic education first affected the knowledge, values, and participatory inclinations of individuals directly exposed to the Kenyan National Civic Education Programme (NCEP). These individuals became opinion leaders, communicating these new orientations to others within their social networks. Individuals who discussed others’ civic education experiences then showed significant growth in democratic knowledge and values, in many instances more than individuals with direct exposure to the program. We find further evidence of a “compensation effect,” such that the impact of civic education and post-civic education discussion was greater among Kenyans with less education and with lower levels of social integration.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2011. “The Juiz de Foran voter and social context.” Teoria e cultura 4(1).
Published in Portuguese as: Smith, Amy Erica. 2011. “Nota de pesquisa: O eleitor juizforano e o contextuo social.” Revista teoria e cultura 4(1).
This article describes a series of studies that were carried out in Juiz de Fora, Brazil, between April of 2002 and November of 2008, which aimed to understand the role of social context in citizens’ political behavior. After describing the characteristics of the studies, the paper explores the influence of education measured at the neighborhood level on the Juiz de Foran voter’s electoral choices. Between 1998 and 2008 there was a strong tendency for neighborhoods with higher education to support the candidate from the Workers’ Party, although in 2006 and to a lesser extent in 2002 the association between vote for the Workers’ Party and neighborhood-level education was reversed. It is also discovered that in the neighborhoods where residents have lower formal education, the political influence of neighborhood associations and churches is stronger.
Orcés, Diana, Amy Erica Smith, and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister. 2011. “Democracy in Hard Times: Belize.” AmericasBarometer Insights 56.
This report marks the first in a subseries examining the economic crisis and democratic attitudes within selected countries studied in the 2010 AmericasBarometer surveys. We find that in early 2010, almost all Belizeans perceived that their country was in the midst of an economic crisis, and that many had experienced personal or family job and income loss. However, we find little change in Belizeans’ support for democracy between 2008 and 2010. Moreover, when we examine relationships at the individual level, we find that neither economic evaluations nor perceptions of government economic performance are significantly associated with democratic attitudes. Thus, Belize is an exception to previously reported findings that economic evaluations and democratic attitudes are strongly linked in the Americas as a whole.
Encyclopedia entries on “IBOPE” and “José Serra.” In Brazil Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Republic, Eds. John J. Crocitti and Monique M. Vallance. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Barry Ames and Amy Erica Smith. 2010. Knowing Left from Right: Ideological Thinking in the 2002 and 2006 Brazilian Presidential Elections. Journal of Politics in Latin America 2(3): 3-38.
Ideology, typically defined on a left-right spectrum, should provide a means of communication between elites and masses. After years of leftist party rule, have Brazilian voters internalized ideological divisions? Longitudinal surveys conducted from 2002 to 2006 reveal high nonresponse and instability in ideological self-identification. We find that the capacity to think ideologically is in part a function of political and social context. This capacity has real political consequences. A Heckman selection model reveals that those who refuse to take an ideological position or who exhibit high instability in self-identification tend to be latent rightists and to choose rightist presidential candidates. Moreover, they interpret the ideological spectrum differently from those who are more consistent in ideological self-placement. We thus make two contributions, showing how contextual factors influence ideological thinking and how low levels of ideological thinking affect the measurement of Brazilian public opinion.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2010. “Who Supports Affirmative Action in Brazil?” AmericasBarometer Insights 49.
The latest edition in the AmericasBarometer Insights series examines public support for racial quotas in Brazilian universities. A high percentage of Brazilians believes that reserving slots for Afro-descendants is fair. However, an important minority strongly opposes affirmative action. It turns out that the university educated and whites are most likely to oppose affirmative education. At the lowest educational levels, however, support is very high regardless of the respondent’s race. While racism reduces approval of affirmative action, this report finds no differences in partisanship or ideology between supporters and opponents of affirmative action.
Smith, Amy Erica. 2009. Legitimate Grievances: Preferences for Democracy, System Support, and Political Participation in Bolivia. Latin American Research Review 44(3): 102-126.
Many cross-national surveys examine the extent to which citizens of new democracies believe that democracy is always preferable to any other form of government. There is little evidence, however, regarding how such attitudes affect citizen behavior. This article examines the case of Bolivia, asking whether and how Bolivians’ attitudes toward democracy affect participation, including contacts with public officials and involvement in political parties and social movements. Through analysis of nationwide survey data, I show that preferences for democracy have little effect on participation in party meetings or protests. Examining the relationship more carefully, I then show that, for Bolivians who favor institutional methods of representation, support for democracy increases attachment to the traditional political system and decreases protest; for citizens who favor popular methods of representation, it has the opposite impact. I conclude by discussing the implications for scholarship on democratization, which often conflates preferences for democracy with political stability.
Warner, Mildred, Rosaria Ribeiro, and Amy Erica Smith. 2003. “Addressing the Affordability Gap: Framing Child Care as Economic Development.” Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Development Law. 12(3): 294–313.
The United States has experienced profound changes in work patterns, family life, and women’s roles in recent years. The rate of mothers who work outside their homes has risen dramatically in the last forty years (from 30 percent in 1960 to 72 percent in 1999). Formal systems of providing child care while parents work have not kept pace. These problems not only have serious consequences for families and children, but also hamper economic growth.
Because child care is a labor-intensive business, wages make up a high proportion of providers’ total expenses. Providers are unable to cut costs by increasing the number of children that each staff member serves because of state-mandated child/staff ratios. Neither can they lower their costs by substituting technology for workers. Providers are also unable to raise prices because fees are already as high as most families can afford, exceeding 35 percent of family income in some cases. This situation results in a crisis of care: very low wages for child care workers; low returns to providers; and an inadequate supply of quality, affordable child care. Quality suffers because staff members are often poorly trained and underpaid and turnover is high.
Employers are also affected by lower worker productivity and higher turnover when their employees are unable to find stable, trustworthy child care. A University of Michigan study shows that mothers are more than twice as likely to quit their jobs when the employer offers inadequate child care or none at all.
The quality of care has a long-term impact. The well-known Perry Preschool study demonstrated that for every dollar invested in early care and education, society receives a seven dollar return. In a review of thirty-six long-term studies of early childhood programs, Steven W. Barnett suggests that the national cost of failing to provide at least two years of early education could be as high as $400 billion.
Community developers have been turning their attention recently to the role of child care in economic development. This article describes some of the unique challenges of analyzing child care as an economic sector and some of the opportunities an economic development frame can bring to the child care finance debate.
Economic development methods may help broaden public support and identify innovative financing solutions. Before such approaches can be applied to child care, the industry must begin to present itself as a participant in the economic sector. To begin this process, states and counties have started to conduct economic impact analyses of the child care sector. In Tompkins County, New York, described in more detail in this article, a group of business, government, and community leaders used an economic impact analysis to help build support for a local subsidy fund that will help all families pay for child care. By showing that child care is an important social infrastructure that has economic benefits for businesses, government, and workers, studies such as these are beginning to reframe the child care issue in terms of economic development, rather than welfare policy.
Reports and Technical Papers
- Prusa, Anya, and Amy Erica Smith, Editors. 2020. Building a Sustainable Future in Brazil: Environment, Development, and Climate Change. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
- Ames, Barry, Alyssa Huberts, Fabiana Machado, Lucio Rennó, David Samuels, Amy Erica Smith, and Cesar Zucco. 2016. The Brazilian Electoral Panel Study: 2014 Results. Technical Note IDB-TN-915. Washington, D.C.: Inter-American Development Bank.
- Honig, Lauren, Amy Erica Smith, and Jaimie Bleck. 2020. “What Stymies Action on Climate Change? Religious Institutions, Marginalization, and Efficacy in Kenya.” Notre Dame, IN: Kellogg Institute for International Studies Working Paper #437.
- “Perceptions of Climate Change and the Role of Religion.” 2020. In Building a Sustainable Future in Brazil: Environment, Development, and Climate Change (Anya Prusa and Amy Erica Smith, Editors). Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
- Smith, Amy Erica, and Emma Rosenberg. 2019. “What Drives Religious Politicking?” Notre Dame, IN: Kellogg Institute for International Studies Working Paper #430.
- Ames, Barry, Fabiana Machado, Lucio Rennó, David Samuels, Amy Erica Smith, and Cesar Zucco. 2013. The Brazilian Electoral Panel Study. Washington, D.C.: Inter-American Development Bank. Technical Note IDB-TN-508.
- Seligson, Mitchell A., Amy Erica Smith, and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister, Editors. 2012. The Political Culture of Democracy in the Americas, 2012: Toward Equality of Opportunity. Nashville, TN: Latin American Public Opinion Project. (Chapters with Frederico Batista Pereira, Ryan E. Carlin, Mollie Cohen, Nicole Hinton, Gregory Love, Mason Moseley, Mariana Rodríguez, Matthew M. Singer, and Daniel Zizumbo-Colunga).
- Seligson, Mitchell A., Amy Erica Smith, and Elizabeth J. Zechmeister. 2012. “AmericasBarometer 2012 Round Draws on Lessons from 2010 Surveys.” AmericasBarometer Insights 76: 58-63.
- Seligson, Mitchell A., and Amy Erica Smith, Editors. Political Culture of Democracy, 2010: Democratic Consolidation in the Americas During Hard Times: Report on the Americas. Nashville, TN: Latin American Public Opinion Project. (Chapters with Abby Córdova, Diana Orcés, Mitchell A. Seligson, Dominique Zéphyr, & Daniel Zizumbo-Colunga.)