I study the links between social norms and political participation with a focus on gender, religion and conservatism in South Asia. My dissertation and book project examines how political parties wield social and religious norms to mobilize women in India. A complementary research agenda examines the origins and spread of religious conservatism, how regressive norms can be transformed to foster inclusion, and the effects of inclusion on the marginalized and historically entrenched groups.
One of the most remarkable developments in contemporary Indian politics is the explosion in women’s political participation. For example, between 2009 and 2014, 27% more women attended election rallies, party meetings, and canvassed on behalf of political parties. But paradoxically, this growth was most pronounced for women voting for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a right-wing religiously conservative party whose ideology of Hindutva (Hindu-ness) assigns women to traditional gender roles within the household. What explains the BJP’s success at engaging women in public spaces?
For a sketch of the argument, research design, and evidence, please click here! In case you want to know more, please e-mail me at achowdhury[at]fas[dot]harvard[dot]edu!
2019 Voter information campaigns and political accountability: Cumulative findings from a preregistered meta-analysis of coordinated trials (with Thad Dunning, Guy Grossman, Macartan Humphreys, Susan Hyde, Craig McIntosh, Gareth Nellis, Claire L. Adida, Eric Arias, Clara Bicalho, Taylor C. Boas, Mark T. Buntaine, Simon Chauchard, Jessica Gottlieb, F. Daniel Hidalgo, Marcus Holmlund, Ryan Jablonski, Eric Kramon, Horacio Larreguy, Malte Lierl, John Marshall, Gwyneth McClendon, Marcus A. Melo, Daniel L. Nielson, Paula M. Pickering, Melina R. Platas, Pablo Querubin, Pia Raffler, and Neelanjan Sircar). Science Advances
2019 Meta-analysis (with Thad Dunning, Clara Bicalho, Guy Grossman, Macartan Humphreys, Susan Hyde, Craig Mcintosh and Gareth Nellis) in Information, Accountability and Cumulative Learning: Lessons from Metaketa I. Cambridge University Press.
2017 Do Gram Panchayats Get Their Money? A Case Study of Gram Panchayat Fund Flows in Birbhum District, West Bengal (with Ambrish Dongre and Yamini Aiyar) in Decentralisation, Governance and Development: An Indian Perspective. Orient Black Swan.
Electoral Dominance in Democratic Regimes: Evidence from West Bengal, India (with Anustubh Agnihotri)
Party Alignment and Fiscal Transfers: Evidence from West Bengal, India (with Anustubh Agnihotri)
Partisan vs Policy Bias: An Experiment on News Credibility in India
Religiously Conservative Parties and Women’s Political Mobilization [Book project].