No, Thatcher didn’t cause the Conservative decline in Liverpool

I’m in the process of redrafting a paper on the Conservative decline in Liverpool (what else?) in the 1970s. As a part of this work I wrote a short comment piece summarising my paper, which was was published on ConservativeHome (here), and also made its way on to the Mile End Institute’s blog (here). Please do give it a read, and let me know what you think.

PSA Conference 2015 Paper: ‘Modernisation Theory And Support For Liberal Values In Great Britain: A Quantitative Approach’

I’ve finally finished re-drafting my paper I’m presenting at the Political Studies Association 2015 Annual International Conference. I’ll be presenting my paper, ‘Modernisation Theory And Support For Liberal Values In Great Britain: A Quantitative Approach‘ on the ‘Liberal values, identity and public opinion’ panel for the Liberals and Liberalism specialist group.

This will be the first time I’ve given a paper, or indeed given any real academic presentation in any meaningful sense. I’m fairly confident that I know the theoretical side of my paper, specifically modernisation theory and postmaterial values, but if someone asks anything more than a perfunctory methodological question I’ll probably just have to respond with ‘h8z stay mad’.

Overall, though, I’m fairly happy with this paper, and I’m hoping to get it published next year once I get a bit stronger on the quantitative side of things. The idea emerged from my MA dissertation, which used a similar methodology to examine the role of modernisation theory and postmaterial values on support for democracy in Poland, Ukraine and Russia. If I have some success publishing this paper, it’s likely I’ll also update and try to publish my dissertation too.

If you’ve got half an hour or so to kill, you can read the paper on my academia.edu page by clicking here. Please do comment and let me know what you think!

I’d also like to thank Gareth Anderson for reading it over and pointing out various errors. Much appreciated!

For now, I’ll leave you with the abstract.

This paper will quantitatively examine the extent to which modernisation theory is able to explain the holding of ‘small-l’ liberal values in Great Britain. Firstly, this paper identifies economic development, increased education, emergence of a strong civil society, and the increased prevalence of the holding of postmaterial values as four key aspects of modernisation. Following this, a quantitative analysis is undertaken to measure the extent to which each of these factors influence individual-level support for liberal values, (measured by support for a democratic system of government, the importance of gender equality, and support for tolerance of minorities). This is done using the World Values Survey (2005-2009 wave) dataset.

This aim of the paper is twofold. Firstly, it attempts to ‘plug a gap’ in the modernisation literature, where the bulk of research focuses on the macro, rather than the individual, level. Secondly, it challenges the argument made by Inglehart and Welzel (2010) that the effect of modernisation on liberal values is fully transmitted via the development of postmaterial values. This paper shows that whilst all aspects of modernisation play a role in explaining the holding of liberal values, there remains a gap in the models that is unaccounted for by the theory – thus, we must cast a wider conceptual net should we wish to fully understand what causes individuals to hold these values. Furthermore, postmaterial values are shown to be less important than Inglehart and Welzel claim.

Review: Basic Income: An Anthology of Contemporary Research

Note: This review has been submitted to Political Studies Review, and as such is not the final version. The definitive version will be available at Wiley Online Library. Do not cite without permission of the author. Can also be found on my Academia.edu page.

K. Widerquist, J. A. Anguera, Y. Vanderborght, and J. de Wispelaere (eds.) Basic Income: An Anthology of Contemporary Research (Chichester: Wiley Blackwell, 2013).

The rise of the Green Party in the 2015 British general election has raised the profile of the basic income (even if the policy was quickly dropped from the 2015 manifesto). Those who find their interest in the policy piqued should seriously consider Widerquist, Noguera, Vanderborght and de Wispelaere’s comprehensive and coherent anthology of research around BI. Split over nine sections (freedom, justice, reciprocity and exploitation, feminism, economics, post-productivism, implementation, institutions, and politics), the seventy-four chapters provide a rigorous introduction to the concept (and variants thereof, including the Negative Income Tax and the Participation Income).

The editors have done well to compile such a varied collection of positions; whilst the majority of the chapters are supportive of a BI (in some form) either in vacuo or as part of a larger package of reform, the anthology does not shy away from well thought out critiques of the policy, especially in the feminist and economics sections. This is a refreshing inclusion, since advocates must deal with the widespread real-world opposition to the policy.

The anthology is also effective at balancing philosophical and political schools, and features thinkers as diverse as Tobin and Friedman, as well as Marxian, libertarian, left-libertarian, and republican proponents of BI. Furthermore, much thought has clearly gone into ensuring the chapters ‘talk’ to one another. Works are sequenced to follow debates, with the first three sections providing a strong philosophical grounding for the latter sections. However, most chapters can be read individually.

However, perhaps due to the availability of existing scholarship, there is a heavy bias towards the philosophical, with just a minority of chapters featuring a significant empirical component showing how a BI could work in practice – this is problematic, since a lack of feasibility is a common criticism of the policy. A further gap in the anthology is the almost universal focus on Europe and North America. Exceptions to this are the brilliant and intriguing chapters by Van Parijs and Standing, both of whom examine the global South and the movements towards, and potential for, a BI in these polities – one cannot help but be left with the feeling that prospects for a BI are stronger here than in the West.

Overall, this anthology is a welcome contribution to the basic income corpus. Although some chapters draw upon models or concepts that may be alien to a general audience, there is something for everyone within this outstanding collection.

David Jeffery

Queen Mary, University of London