Political Science & Public Policy Faculty Research

Political Science Faculty Research

Catch up with research from the political science & public policy department at Merrimack College.

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Dr. Alison Russell

The Ukraine-Russia war is both an information war and a conventional military war. The effects of the bombs, tanks, and missiles are brutal and undeniable as are the effects of com- peting social media and digital public relations campaigns. Existing literature on blockades in the cyber domain is closely tied to the empirical evidence of a few cases. The events in Ukraine provide additional evidence and improve the understanding of blockade operations in cyberspace, corporate boycotts, and what could be termed digital exclusion zones.

Dr. Matthew Cohen

Efforts to isolate and delegitimise nations pose a growing danger to state security. The components used in such efforts are, however, not fully understood. This article expands upon existing research by proposing that there are seven areas in which states can face isolation efforts: political, economic, military, sociocultural, media, lawfare, and religious. Moreover, it proposes the idea of ‘destruction-oriented’ isolation, which aims to destroy a state, not merely create change. The ongoing campaign against Israel serves as the case study. Gaining a better understanding of these different tools will allow states to better prepare themselves to withstand these threats.

Dr. Kirstie Dobbs

As countries worldwide struggled to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in March and April of 2020, observers often remarked that countries with higher levels of regime legitimacy, state capacity, and political trust were more likely to curtail the spread of the virus. Remarkably, using quantitative data from 10 different sources, this article finds that this generalizable theory runs counter to expectations. Countries with higher levels of political legitimacy, trust, and capacity experienced greater increases in COVID cases during the onset of the pandemic, albeit the strength of these relationships is modest. To develop generalizable theories predicting virus containment, researchers should turn their attention to unique factors characterizing industrialized democracies that make a virus much harder to contain and expand their scope by using transdisciplinary approaches to understanding the pandemic.

Dr. Anne Boxberger Flaherty

Presidential Rhetoric and Indian Policy explores and analyses the dynamics of presidential rhetoric on Native peoples and issues from Nixon to the present. Covering Presidents Washington through Johnson in an overview before turning to focus on the modern era of self-determination, Anne Flaherty offers a systematic analysis of 700 presidential statements that mention Native issues from 1969 through 2020 to evaluate whether presidents in the modern era have used their rhetorical platforms to bring attention to Native issues and to support this coherent strategy of self-determination. Flaherty provides evidence that rhetorical themes vary by administration and seem to either rely on more symbolic, historical language or to connect more clearly to the dominant platforms and messages of the president in question. The book then moves to incorporate an analysis of key outcomes compared across the administrations. The data and analysis show that federal spending, legislative outcomes, and Supreme Court decisions have not consistently supported self-determination policy over the past 50 years. This book is a must read for scholars and students interested in indigenous politics, Native American Indian Politics, US presidency and rhetoric.

Dr. He Li

Since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, governance reform and innovation have become a central pillar of China’s grand strategy. Meanwhile, the debate on good governance gained momentum among the Chinese intellectuals ranging from the proponents of good governance, New Leftists, liberals, champions of political meritocracy, and advocates of the Singapore model. This study uses content analysis to examine the works by leading Chinese scholars and other primary materials. This study finds that the Chinese intellectual discourse on governance is a double-edged sword. It has generated some important theoretical rendering and practical designs of the governance reforms that the Party-state could cherry-pick., Yet, the enhanced governance capacity could help the regime build up legitimacy without convergence to liberal democracy.

Dr. Kevin McGravey

2019 saw a wave of youth-led climate strikes that demanded states ‘listen to the science’. Some of these states are committed to protecting free speech through neutrality on climate change. That commitment inhibits informed democratic deliberation by remaining neutral between climate science and denial. In response, using the United States as our example, we argue that the state can and should use its expressive capacity to promote climate literacy and doing so does not violate free speech commitments. Public deliberation must move on from whether climate change exists to the urgent question of how we should respond.