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.
Mauricio Fernández Duque will be presenting his job market paper “Pluralistic Ignorance and Social Change: A Model of Sequential Decisions with Second Order Conformity.”
I develop a theory of group interaction in which individuals who act sequentially are concerned about signaling what they believe is the majority group preference. The framework allows me to study three features of collective action. First, equilibrium dynamics may result in a perverse situation where most individuals reluctantly act in a way they mistakenly believe is cooperative, a situation known as 'pluralistic ignorance'. Second, behavior may be affected by leaders, laws or surveys that influence what is thought to be the majority preference, possibly creating pluralistic ignorance. Third, abrupt social change may come about through the action of an obscure, politically inactive and uninformed individual whose brash actions reveal what everyone wishes they were doing. The model formalizes insights from scholarship that emphasizes how social meaning is constructed, and then applies these insights to political phenomena such as the Arab Spring, climate change beliefs, and the impact of get out the vote campaigns.