Current Book Projects

Maps in Their Heads


If "All politics is local," as Tip O'Neill famously stated, then understanding politics requires understanding how people and place interact. This project deepens our knowledge about how ordinary people use information about their environments to make decisions about politics in the following ways: It (1) improves the measurement of personally relevant places by creating an innovative map-drawing computer interface to large scale surveys; (2) clarifies the mechanism behind contextual effects by directly asking people to describe their environments; and (3) enhances our understanding of the causal relationship between place and attitudes by adding contextual information to a longitudinal study of political attitudes and behaviors.

For place to matter to an individual, it should to be personal. A boundary drawn by the Census or a state political party may contain meaningful places for some people, but it is not designed with any given individual in mind. Relationships between the characteristics of such geographies and individual attitudes and behaviors may be hard to interpret because of the heterogeneity in the psychological relationships between people and place. This project enhances the measurement of individuals' perceptions of their local communities by allowing them to draw boundaries of these places on maps; a self-drawn map will at least show us what area is personally relevant; and an online survey of a sample chosen to maximize variation on the racial characteristics (and changes) of people's environments will ask about the personal maps as well as about places that group people by administrative fiat.

Related Working Papers and Publications

Do You See What I See? Ethnic Diversity, Pseudoenvironments, and Social Capital (with Jake Bowers, Daniel Rubenson, Mark Fredrickson, and Ashlea Rundlett)

Context Effects as the Effects of Politics: Does exposure to UKIP campaigning change how Britons perceive their local environment? (with Jake Bowers, Jane Green, and Ed Fieldhouse)

The Origins of Demographic Misperceptions: Threat, Contact, and Bayesian Proportion Rescaling (with Brian Guay, Tyler Marghetis, and David Landy)(under review)

Maps in People's Heads: Assessing a New Measure of Context (with Jake Bowers, Daniel Rubenson, Mark Fredrickson, and Ashlea Rundlett). Political Science Research and Methods . 2018.

Bringing the Person Back In: Boundaries, Perceptions, and the Measurement of Racial Context (with Jake Bowers, Tarah Williams, and Katherine Drake Simmons) The Journal of Politics 2012.

'Little' and 'Big' Pictures in Our Heads: Race, Local Context and Innumeracy about Racial Groups in the U.S. 2007. Public Opinion Quarterly. 71: 392-412.

Dying to Belong: Citizenship, Military Service, and Patriotism

A book project on the meaning and value of citizenship today. Since before the U.S. was a nation, non-citizens have fought on its behalf and have been granted citizenship (first state and then national) as a result. Nevertheless, this history of "green-card troops" is not widely known, even though the policy of granting citizenship for service is older and more American than even apple pie and baseball. Even when news stories do appear about soldiers naturalizing on the Fourth of July, for example, everyone seems to assume that service justifies citizenship, without understanding that it is much more typical for membership to precede duties, rather than the reverse order.

Using national survey data with questions I developed for the 2014 and 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, I show that Americans are ambivalent about allowing noncitizens to serve in the U.S. armed forces, but are willing to grant U.S. citizenship to those who do serve. I also answer the question of whether other types of service (e.g., serving in the Peace Corps or as a firefighter) are similar, in terms of whether immigrants should be allowed to serve and whether citizenship should be granted for these other types of service.

Related Working Papers and Publications

The Value of Citizenship and Service to the Nation (with Jonathan Bonaguro) (R&R)

Who Fights: Substitution, Commutation, and 'Green Card Troops'. 2007. Du Bois Review 4: 1-22.

Jus Meritum: Citizenship for Service (with Grace Cho). 2006. In Taeku Lee, Karthick Ramakrishnan, and Ricardo Ramirez, eds. Transforming Politics, Transforming America: The Political and Civic Incorporation of Immigrants in the United States. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

Other Projects

Thick Versus Thin Assimilation: American Public Opinion about Language Usage (with Morris Levy and Jack Citrin)(R&R).

Social Contact and Immigration Attitudes: A Study of LSD Missionaries (with Adam Berinsky, Christopher Karpowitz, Zeyu Chris Peng, and Jonathan Rodden).

Elected Officials, Empowered Voters: The Impact of Descriptive Representation on Voter Turnout (with Matthew Hayes, Chera LaForge, Mark Fredrickson, and Andrew Bloeser).

Racial Context is Factual, but is Racial Threat Partisan? (with David Hendry).

'You've Flown the Flag. Now What?': Patriotism, Civic Duty, and Perceptions of National Identity (with Vincent Hutchings, James Jackson, Ronald Brown, and Katherine Drake Simmons).

National Politics Study (with James Jackson, Ronald Brown, and Vincent Hutchings). Funded by NSF and Carnegie.