Review of the Day
A delightful combination of cross-disciplinary theory, large-N surveys, elite interviews, and a field experiment are used to triangulate how within-group status motivations (envy, spite, and the desire for admiration) explain otherwise puzzling variations in political behavior. Survey data from South Africa and the US illustrate that people will support redistributive policies that hurt their pocketbooks when those policies improve their relative position compared to their neighbors, especially when social ties are weak. Local politicians in South Africa were less likely to spend money on housing that would fail to help all qualified families, thus making some neighbors visibly better off than others, if they thought it would exacerbate existing tensions and jealousies. Supporters of a New Jersey LGBT advocacy group were more likely to participate in a local rally and march when incentivized with the promise of within-group acclaim. “Even though such actions are materially costly, people are more likely to participate if they know that their political participation will be observed and admired by in-group members.” Overall, this excellent, eclectic, and thought-provoking book is sure to inspire intense discussion and significant follow-up research.
Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.
- Reviewer: M. R. Michelson, Menlo College
- Recommendation: Essential
- Readership Level: Upper-division Undergraduates, Graduate Students, Researchers/Faculty
- Interdisciplinary Subjects:
- Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences - Political Science - Comparative Politics
- Choice Issue: aug 2018 vol. 55 no. 12
- Choice Review #: 55-4646