Elite identity and political mobilization : the effect of role congruence and identity congruence on political activism in Africa
- Marlette N. Jackson.
- [Stanford, California] : [Stanford University], 2018.
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- Elite Identity and Political Mobilization: The Effect of Role Congruence and Identity Congruence on Political Activism in Africa investigates the puzzle of African political behavior, exploring the conditions under which traditional elites and female politicians incite political activism. Existing literature often accredits African political behavior to co-ethnic ties, patron-client relations, or clientelistic strategies, positing that voters use ethnic identity as a heuristic to inform their vote choice. I build on this work by exploring the socio-psychological determinants of political mobilization; in particular, how elite congruence with a political office, or social identity, shapes voter behavior. The three empirical chapters of the dissertation propose and test related arguments that collectively explain how role congruent or identity congruent elite behavior shapes the political participation of African citizens and provides a more nuanced understanding of the micro-foundations of African state-building. To explain differential levels of political mobilization, I draw on theories in social psychology. In particular, I draw on Alice Eagly's role congruity theory, that people reward (sanction) individuals who affirm (defy) societal expectations. In a political context, role congruity theory produces two distinct interpretations. The first is that elites will be rewarded (punished) for behaving in ways that are congruent (incongruent) with their social or political role. The second interpretation is that elites will be rewarded (punished) for behaving in ways that are congruent (incongruent) with their social or cultural identity. This theory appears quite promising to apply in Africa, since governments have worked hard to find elites at the local and the national level who could help procure local "buy in" for their development programs, and their electoral goals. Eagly's framework provides a strategy for an effective choice of allies to aid the state in its state-building efforts. The theory, focusing on the reliance of role and gender congruence, also has clear implications on strategies of incorporating more women into political office. However, taken together, the three empirical applications of Eagly's theory that I present in the dissertation fail to provide support for role congruity theory. In fact, this dissertation provides cautionary evidence that endorsements meeting Eagly's congruence criteria for success can undermine local acceptance of central government programs and can decrease political support for female politicians. I provide evidence of these insights from three empirical chapters, which test Eagly's theory on different levels of elites, in different political systems, and in varied social contexts. Before this, I introduce the motivation and importance of the dissertation in Chapter 1 and develop a broad conceptual framework to understand role congruity theory in the African context in Chapter 2. In the first empirical chapter of the dissertation, Chapter 3, I explore role congruity theory in Ethiopia. Though we would expect local elites to wield considerable power over their communities given previous research (Baldwin 2013, Sheely 2012), we find that local elite endorsement negatively impacts rural mobilization across multiple forms of development programming. Indeed, elite endorsement, regardless of elite type, decreases participation in many interventions. This result is especially pronounced in culturally incongruent programs to end child marriage and land conflict. In the few cases where participation increased due to local endorsement, though still below the condition of no endorsement, it occurred when Elders or religious leaders endorsed the program alongside women's groups. Further examination is needed to determine whether this is a result of the combined endorsement effect of two elites, or if it is the result of female congruence with certain interventions. In the end, however, the results from the Ethiopian application of Eagly's theory suggest that neither role nor cultural congruence can fully explain citizen participation in development programming. In the Tunisian application of Eagly's theory, myself and a co-author examine women at the council level and the MP level. In particular, we evaluate: (1) the types of professional experience that female politicians can appeal to in order to increase popular support for their inclusion in political office, and (2) whether or not support for a female politician is conditional on the level of political office for which she is competing. We find that female candidates who appeal to leadership congruent professional experience are more likely to gain political support. Notably, this effect is strongest among female respondents. In the second experiment, we find that political candidates who emphasize women's rights, and political candidates who are female, are less likely to receive voter support at the municipal level. Taken together, the results suggest that role congruence has more positive effects on political support than gender congruence. While women who act in ways that are congruent with their political role are more likely to garner political support, female politicians who act in ways that are congruent with their gender are less likely to receive said political support. In the final empirical application of Eagly's theory, I conduct a survey experiment in Kenya. I examine whether gender congruous or role congruous political strategies can best increase support for electoral gender quotas. Using a nationally representative survey experiment, I randomize whether survey respondents received programmatic or clientelistic messages to increase support for a gender quota, endorsed by either a male or female politician. I find that respondents are more likely to support the quota when there is no political appeal, and least likely to support the quota when programmatic strategies are endorsed by male politicians. This finding is in direct contrast to the conventional wisdom of elite endorsements; indeed, I find that elite endorsements can actually be detrimental to policy support. The results of this experiment are similar to the results from the Ethiopian application: elite endorsement has negative effects on citizen support. However, the results do demonstrate that gender incongruent political strategies negatively effect voter support, an interpretation in line with role congruity theory. Collectively, however, the results from the Kenyan application, suggest that neither role congruence nor gender congruence can fully explain aversion to, or support for, electoral gender quotas. In sum, the three empirical chapters of the dissertation produce little evidence in favor of the applicability of role congruity theory to the African context and suggest further examination into the conditions under which role congruence or social congruence can explain African political behavior.
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- Submitted to the Department of Political Science.
- Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2018.
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