Talk: “Why Bother? Rethinking Participation in Elections and Protests”
Asst. Prof. Dr. Selim Erdem Aytaç
Department of International Relations,
Thursday, November 7, 2019, 12:30 p.m.
FEASS Building, A-130
Why do vote-suppression efforts sometimes fail? Why does police repression of demonstrators sometimes turn localized protests into massive, national movements? How do politicians and activists manipulate people’s emotions to get them involved? In this book we offer a new theory of why people take part in collective action in politics, and test it in the contexts of voting and protesting. We develop the idea that just as there are costs of participation in politics, there are also costs of abstention — intrinsic and psychological, but no less real for that. That abstention can be psychically costly helps explain real-world patterns that are anomalies for existing theories, such as that sometimes increases in costs of participation are followed by more participation, not less. The book draws on a wealth of survey data, interviews, and experimental results from a range of countries, included the United States, Britain, Brazil, Sweden, and Turkey.
S. Erdem Aytaç is an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations at Koç University. He received his PhD in political science from Yale University in 2014. Aytaç’s research interests lie in political behavior with a focus on democratic accountability and political participation. His previous work has appeared in the Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Behavior, British Journal of Political Science, and Political Behavior, among other journals. He is the co-author (with Susan Stokes) of Why Bother? Rethinking Participation in Elections and Protests published by Cambridge University Press in 2019. He received the Young Scientist Award of Science Academy (Turkey) in 2016 and the Sakıp Sabancı International Research Award in 2018.