Research Workshop in Political Economy (Gov 3007)


Monday, September 11, 2017, 12:00pm to 2:00pm


CGIS Knafel K354

This seminar is closed to the public.

Co-taught by Professors Robert Bates and Torben Iversen, the Research Workshop in Political Economy (Government 3007) is a year-long graduate seminar that aims to encourage cross-disciplinary research and excellence in graduate training. Political economy is a research tradition that explores how institutions affect political and economic outcomes. The workshop emphasizes the development of dissertation proposals and is a place where graduate students can present their research to an audience of committed and informed peers. It is open to graduate students in the Departments of Government and Economics, and the Program in Political Economy and Government. The workshop holds both internal and public seminars and meetings. At the internal meetings, approximately twelve per semester, graduate students and faculty present their own work to one another. At the public meetings, up to two per semester, leading scholars are invited to Harvard to present their work. Although the workshop is by invitation only, affiliates of the Weatherhead Center are encouraged to attend the public meetings.



Peter Bucchianeri will be presenting his job market paper “Political Parties, Local Cleavages, and the Dimensionality of Legislative Conflict: Evidence from City and County Councils.”


Political parties are often argued to be the central organizing force in American politics. Yet, the vast majority of governments in the United States—nearly all at the local level—are either nonpartisan or governed by a single party. How is political conflict structured in these environments? In this paper, I develop a theory of legislative conflict to explain how salient political groups and the nature of political competition influence the stability of the cleavages that form in government. To test the implications of my theory, I gather a new collection of legislative records, including proposals and roll call votes, from 132 city and county governments across the country. By scaling the votes for each council, I show that local councils with broad-based groups like parties are more likely to have conflict defined by a single cleavage, but that those with racially diverse memberships are less likely to. In both cases, however, the presence of out-group competition is necessary in order to bind each faction together. My findings highlight the relatively unique features of parties as groups in the political ecosystem and have broad implications for public policy and representation, particularly in nonpartisan governments and the increasingly large number of ‘one-party’ cities and states.