What We Are Reading Today: Persuasive Peers; Social Communication and Voting in Latin America

What We Are Reading Today: Persuasive Peers; Social Communication and Voting in Latin America
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Updated 28 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Persuasive Peers; Social Communication and Voting in Latin America

What We Are Reading Today: Persuasive Peers; Social Communication and Voting in Latin America

Edited by Andy Baker, Barry Ames, and Lucio Renno

In Latin America’s new democracies, political parties and mass partisanship are not deeply entrenched, leaving many votes up for grabs during election campaigns. In a typical presidential election season, between one-quarter and one-half of all voters—figures unheard of in older democracies—change their voting intentions across party lines in the months before election day. Advancing a new theory of Latin American voting behavior, Persuasive Peers argues that political discussions within informal social networks among family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and acquaintances explain this volatility and exert a major influence on final voting choices.

Relying on unique survey and interview data from Latin America, the authors show that weakly committed voters defer to their politically knowledgeable peers, creating vast amounts of preference change as political campaigns unfold. Peer influences also matter for unwavering voters, who tend to have social contacts that reinforce their voting intentions. Social influence increases political conformity among voters within neighborhoods, states, and even entire regions, and the authors illustrate how party machines use the social topography of electorates to buy off well-connected voters who can magnify the impact of the payoff.

Persuasive Peers demonstrates how everyday communication shapes political outcomes in Latin America’s less-institutionalized democracies.


What We Are Reading Today: Four Kings

What We Are Reading Today: Four Kings
Updated 23 January 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Four Kings

What We Are Reading Today: Four Kings

Author: George Kimball

By the late 1970s, boxing had lapsed into a moribund state and interest in it was on the wane. In 1980, however, the sport was resuscitated by a riveting series of bouts involving an improbably dissimilar quartet: Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran.
These four boxers brought out the best in each other, producing unprecedented multimillion-dollar gates along the way. Each of the nine bouts between the four men was memorable in its own way and at least two of them — Leonard-Hearns I in 1981 and Hagler-Hearns in 1985 — are commonly included on any list of the greatest fights of all time. The controversial outcome of another — the 1987 Leonard-Hagler fight — remains the subject of heated debates amongst fans to this day.
Leonard, Hagler, Hearns and Duran didn’t set out to save boxing from itself in the post-Ali era, but somehow they managed to do so. In Four Kings, award-winning journalist George Kimball documents the remarkable effect they had on the sport and argues that we will never see their likes again.