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Factionalism and US Foreign Policy: A Social Psychological Model of Minority Influence1

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Abstract

Scholars have examined the influence of intraparty factionalism on government stability and policy development in democratic systems for some time, yet factionalism in major political parties in the United States remains understudied. This article draws on scholarship on minority influence from social psychology, as well as studies of party polarization and coalitions in comparative politics, to explore the impact of factionalism in the US Congress on support for foreign policy initiatives. It proposes a novel framework to examine the longitudinal impact of the Freedom Caucus or Tea Party in the Republican Party on foreign policy initiatives championed by the majority. It conducts a plausibility probe of the model linking factionalism, minority influence strategies, and delays in establishment progress on foreign policy through case studies of comprehensive immigration policy reform debates and Trade Promotion Authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The paper concludes that factions that demonstrate persistence and consistency in support of minority positions do appear to influence the scope and direction of foreign policy commitments, votes on major legislation, and nonvotes over time. It also offers suggestions for future study of more contingent and multilinear models of foreign policy processes in comparative perspective.

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I focus on the role of case studies in developing causal explanations. I distinguish between the theoretical purposes of case studies and the case selection strategies or research designs used to advance those objectives. I construct a typology of case studies based on their purposes: idiographic (inductive and theory-guided), hypothesis-generating, hypothesis-testing, and plausibility probe case studies. I then examine different case study research designs, including comparable cases, most and least likely cases, deviant cases, and process tracing, with attention to their different purposes and logics of inference. I address the issue of selection bias and the “single logic” debate, and I emphasize the utility of multi-method research.
Article
Presents a formal model of social influence that integrates majority and minority influence processes within a single theoretical framework and uses computer simulations to model the group influence process. The Social Influence Model (SIM) predicts that as a faction increases in size, its impact increases and vice versa. The performance of the SIM is assessed by comparison with empirical findings from a meta-analysis of research on conformity, minority influence, and deviate rejection. The results indicate that influence is predominantly a function of the number of targets and sources of influence, both of which are incorporated into a nonlinear growth function that accurately predicts the amount of influence obtained in social influence studies. The consistency of the influence source was also an important predictor of influence; task type, group type, and response mode affected influence to a lesser degree. (58 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Chapter
Considers the processes by which a minority can influence the attitudes of the majority, and presents several historical examples to illustrate this phenomenon (e.g., Freud). Recent research on the mechanisms on minority influence is examined, and the importance of consistency as a behavioral style in the effectiveness of a minority is stressed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
In the aftermath of a potentially demoralizing 2008 electoral defeat, when the Republican Party seemed widely discredited, the emergence of the Tea Party provided conservative activists with a new identity funded by Republican business elites and reinforced by a network of conservative media sources. Untethered from recent GOP baggage and policy specifics, the Tea Party energized disgruntled white middle-class conservatives and garnered widespread attention, despite stagnant or declining favorability ratings among the general public. As participant observation and interviews with Massachusetts activists reveal, Tea Partiers are not monolithically hostile toward government; they distinguish between programs perceived as going to hard-working contributors to US society like themselves and “handouts” perceived as going to unworthy or freeloading people. During 2010, Tea Party activism reshaped many GOP primaries and enhanced voter turnout, but achieved a mixed record in the November general election. Activism may well continue to influence dynamics in Congress and GOP presidential primaries. Even if the Tea Party eventually subsides, it has undercut Obama's presidency, revitalized conservatism, and pulled the national Republican Party toward the far right.
Article
The new theoretical presuppositions used by Moscovici to explain social influence phenomena led him to show that the consistency of behavior can account for the influence of a minority. Experimental data confirm this idea. However, some counter-examples, showing that consistency sometimes induces subjects to refuse compromises, are problematical. To clear up this apparent contradiction, a distinction is made between behavioral style (in the face of the majority norm) and the style of negotiation (in the face of the population the minority wants to influence). A first experiment, then, shows that when two minorities are seen as equally consistent, the minority with a flexible style of negotiation has more influence than the more rigid minority. A second experiment deals with Ss' perception of the source of influence and clarifies the effects of minority negotiations; the links between opinions, opinion change and perception of others are also clarified.
Article
The case study, as a method of inquiry, is particularly suited to the field of political psychology. Yet there is little training in political science, and even less in psychology, on how to do case study research. Furthermore, misconceptions about case studies contribute to the methodological barrier that exists within and between the two parent disciplines. This paper reviews the various definitions and uses of case studies and integrates a number of recent insights and advances into a practical guide for conducting case study research. To this end, the paper discusses various stereotypes of the case study and offers specific steps aimed at addressing these criticisms.
Chapter
The chapter discusses two types of social behavior: compliance and conversion. Four assumptions are discussed in the chapter, in order to understand Compliance and Conversion. The four assumptions present a picture in which a consistent minority can exert an influence to the same extent as a consistent majority, and that the former will generally have a greater effect on a deeper level, while the latter often has less, or none, at that level. These assumptions allow formulating some interesting and verifiable predictions: (1) Conversion is produced by a minority's consistent behavior; (2) The conversion produced by a minority implies a real change of judgments or opinions; (3) The more intense the conflict generated by the minority, the more radical is the conversion; (4) At least where perceptions are involved, conversion is more pronounced when the influence source is absent. The chapter presents a certain number of facts that substantiate these predictions and make them more plausible. Experimental studies are also mentioned wherein preliminary results, direct and indirect influences, conflict and conversion behavior, minority influence, majority influence and compliance are discussed. Final observation indicates convergence between the elements of the proposed theory and the experimental illustrations of conversion behavior.