When members of groups that have long been marginalized finally gain access to political offices, it is expected that the social meaning of belonging to such a group will change and that these psychological changes will have far-reaching behavioral consequences. Supporters of political quotas granting such access often argue that they improve the nature of intergroup relations. However, these presumed psychological effects have remained surprisingly uncharted and untested. Do policies mandating the inclusion of excluded groups in political offices change the intergroup relations? If so, in what ways? By drawing on careful multi-method explorations of a single case - local-level electoral quotas for members of formerly 'untouchable' castes in India - this book provides nuanced, thorough and ultimately optimistic responses to these questions.
Focus areas: comparative politics, elections in emerging democracies, India
Simon Chauchard is a Lecturer in Discipline in Comparative Politics at the School of Public and International Affairs, Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. from NYU in 2011 and previously taught at Dartmouth.
His research focuses on ethnic politics, voting behavior, political representation and politicians-citizens relations in India. Recent works have appeared in Political Opinion Quarterly, the American Political Science Review, Comparative Political Studies, and Asian Survey. His book, titled, Why Representation Matters: The Meaning of Ethnic Quotas in Rural India (Cambridge University Press), combines qualitative work and a series of innovative surveys to explore the impact of caste-based reservation policies on everyday intergroup relations in India’s villages. Ongoing projects rely on qualitative, quantitative and experimental methodologies to explore political brokerage and the role that money and other forms of influence play in Indian elections.