Abstract - While scholars have grappled with the conceptual ambiguities surrounding the concept of “the rule of law” for well over a century, there has been a renewed interest in this concept in the last two decades. This revival is due in large part to widespread agreement that law based order plays a vital role in societal development. Unfortunately, there is much less agreement on conceptualizing the rule of law. A brief survey of the literature finds mention of societal stability, government constraint, government transparency, government efficiency, level of corruption or, for the more economically oriented, property rights, and contract enforcement. Our conceptualization is based on: 1) three ideals associated with law based order, namely, equality before the law, supremacy of the law, and judicial independence, and 2) the existence of an institutional basis for realizing these ideals, which we term a country’s legal infrastructure.
Measurement schemes are as varied as conceptualizations and most are subjective in nature. We propose an objective measure of both the commitment to law based order and legal infrastructure. Our measure of commitment to a law-based order is based on the degree to which a country codifies a commitment to equality before the law, supremacy of law, and judicial independence in its constitution. We gauge a country’s legal infrastructure by examining institutions for providing both legal education and formalized legal discourse. Countries with abundant numbers of law schools and legal publications reflect a denser legal infrastructure than countries where these institutions are less common.
Our measures provide – for 165 countries in the post-WWII era – objective assessments of a country’s formal commitment to law based order and the degree to which it possesses the necessary infrastructure for that commitment to be realized. We illustrate the measures and integrate them to provide some insights into various historical patterns that characterize different countries.
2011 Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association, March 16-19
Abstract - International relations scholars have long suspected that popular support for war is structured in part by in-group reactions to out-group threats. Huntington’s (1993, 1996) “clash of civilizations” hypothesis is one of the most controversial and under-tested extensions of this perspective within international relations. Most of the studies to quantitatively test Huntington’s hypothesis have examined the outcomes of group conflict, asking whether militarized interstate disputes are more likely across than within civilizations. Our study takes a different approach by examining the patterns of discourse that activate group conflict, focusing on a single militarized interstate dispute: the 2003 invasion of Iraq. For over 70 years, the CIA’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) has monitored the world’s press, translating broadcast, print, and internet news content into English from vernacular coverage from almost every country in the world. Our analysis of FBIS data before, during, and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq reveals patterns of ingroup discourse that are mostly inconsistent with Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” hypothesis. Ingroup discourse was prevalent in worldwide news coverage about Iraq, but this ingroup discourse tends to be structured at the level of individual nation-states rather than common cultures.
Abstract - This paper uses data from an on-going project, the Societal Infrastructures and Development Project (SID) to examine the determinants of wealth. The analysis focuses on institutions (economic, legal and political) and national contexts (education, geography, natural resources). The data enhancements generated by SID make it possible to employ a panel format to analyze 157 countries from 1950-2004. Using cross-sectional, time-series analysis we find that measures of human capital, rule of law, democracy, openness to trade, and natural resources are key variables in explaining the difference in income levels across countries and time; measures of geography and the degree to which the government is involved in a country’s economy are insignificant.
This PowerPoint presentation provides an overview of a an on-going program of research on national institutions, societal contexts and societal welfare, broadly defined.