What We Are Reading Today: Persuasive Peers; Social Communication and Voting in Latin America

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Updated 28 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Persuasive Peers; Social Communication and Voting in Latin America

Edited by Andy Baker, Barry Ames, and Lucio Renno

In Latin America’s new democracies, political parties and mass partisanship are not deeply entrenched, leaving many votes up for grabs during election campaigns. In a typical presidential election season, between one-quarter and one-half of all voters—figures unheard of in older democracies—change their voting intentions across party lines in the months before election day. Advancing a new theory of Latin American voting behavior, Persuasive Peers argues that political discussions within informal social networks among family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and acquaintances explain this volatility and exert a major influence on final voting choices.

Relying on unique survey and interview data from Latin America, the authors show that weakly committed voters defer to their politically knowledgeable peers, creating vast amounts of preference change as political campaigns unfold. Peer influences also matter for unwavering voters, who tend to have social contacts that reinforce their voting intentions. Social influence increases political conformity among voters within neighborhoods, states, and even entire regions, and the authors illustrate how party machines use the social topography of electorates to buy off well-connected voters who can magnify the impact of the payoff.

Persuasive Peers demonstrates how everyday communication shapes political outcomes in Latin America’s less-institutionalized democracies.


What We Are Reading Today: Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo

Updated 1 min 39 sec ago

What We Are Reading Today: Mediocre by Ijeoma Oluo

From the author of the New York Times bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race, a history of white male America and a scathing indictment of what it has cost us.
After the election of Donald Trump, and the escalation of white male rage and increased hostility toward immigrants that came with him, New York Times-bestselling author Ijeoma Oluo found herself in conversation with Americans around the country, pondering one central question: How did we get here?
Oluo answers that question by pinpointing white men’s deliberate efforts to subvert women, people of color, and the disenfranchised. Through research and interviews, Oluo investigates the backstory of America’s growth, from immigrant migration to our national ethos around ingenuity, from the shaping of economic policy to the protection of sociopolitical movements that fortify male power. In the end, she shows how white men have long maintained a stranglehold on leadership and sorely undermined the pursuit of happiness for all, according to a review at goodreads.com.