On March 30, seniors Mariana Garcia and Miriam Himelstein presented their research at the Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society Regional Research Conference. Below are the abstracts of their work.
Miriam Himelstein '19:
"Lapsed Catholics?: Divergent Trends in Abortion Policy in Ireland and Poland”:
Throughout Europe, there has been a broad trend towards liberalization of abortion policy. Until recently, only five states had strict abortion laws, and all five have significant Roman Catholic influence. The largest among them are Ireland and Poland.
In May 2018, Ireland held a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment of its constitution, which effectively banned abortion except when a mother’s life was at risk. Sixty-six percent of Irish voters voted to repeal the amendment in favor of a more liberal policy. Just two months earlier, in Poland, there were mass protests against the second full abortion ban proposed over the past two years.
Through my research, I wanted to explore the anomaly of two Catholic states moving in the opposite direction on abortion policy. My question is why, between these two predominantly Catholic states, did one veer away from Catholic doctrine and abandon restrictions on abortion while the other repeatedly attempted to make said restrictions harsher? While I explored a few different explanations, I believe the most convincing possibility centers on the current shift in the Catholic Church’s reputation as a political actor.
Mariana Garcia '19:
“Understanding Identities in 21st-Century American Politics”:
In light of recent elections cycles and of changes at the turn of the 21st century, the American political climate has changed. Formerly strong predictors of an electorate’s vote choice, like party identification, seem to be less salient of a factor in the face of other factors such as group identity—group identity is playing a more prominent role in national elections. The latter leads me to our research question: what factors influence voter’s decision in national elections in the U.S.? Previous scholars in American politics have focused on this question by looking at identity in relation to political groups, the definition of identity, the effects of racial identity on political preferences, the extent to which notions of “partisan decline” are relevant/outdated, and the conditions under which partisanship becomes more or less salient in evaluating political information, among others. However, in the last election cycles, scholars are paying more and more attention to group identities serving as an evaluating standard in American politics.