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The Social Sources of Support for the Military: Experimental Evidence from Tunisia

Dates:
  • Mon 03 Jun 2019 11.00 - 12.30
  Add to Calendar 2019-06-03 11:00 2019-06-03 12:30 Europe/Paris The Social Sources of Support for the Military: Experimental Evidence from Tunisia

Existing public opinion data across the Middle East usually produce figures of around 90 percent trust in the armed forces. Even if we accept that support for the military is high, such figures very likely are shaped by preference falsification. A list experiment embedded in a representative survey in Tunisia allows us to more accurately measure military support. When asked directly, 76% of Tunisians say the military has a good or very good influence on the way things are going in their country, but only 37% agree in a list experiment. All social groups appear to be overstating their support for the military, but preference falsification varies across social groups. This suggests that there are specific drivers of preference falsification beyond general social desirability bias. We systematically examine different explanations for the presence of social desirability bias among Tunisian respondents and attempt to identify central dimensions of military support. The fact that we find discrepancies in support for the military even in the relatively open political context of Tunisia suggests that similar exercises would probably uncover even more significant divergences in other cases in the Middle East. These empirical findings have significant implications for the study of civil-military relations and democratic consolidation more broadly, for preference falsification appears to be a prominent holdover from authoritarian rule.


Kevin Koehler is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics at the Institute of Political Science, Leiden University. Prior to joining the Institute in January 2019, Kevin served as a Research Advisor at the Middle East Faculty of the NATO Defense College in Rome, as an Assistant Professor of Comparative Methods at the American University in Cairo and held a postdoc position at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Kevin’s research focuses on the Middle East and North Africa and in particular on civil-military relations, security dynamics, and the politics of authoritarian rule in the region and beyond.

Seminar Room Mansarda DD/MM/YYYY
  Seminar Room Mansarda

Existing public opinion data across the Middle East usually produce figures of around 90 percent trust in the armed forces. Even if we accept that support for the military is high, such figures very likely are shaped by preference falsification. A list experiment embedded in a representative survey in Tunisia allows us to more accurately measure military support. When asked directly, 76% of Tunisians say the military has a good or very good influence on the way things are going in their country, but only 37% agree in a list experiment. All social groups appear to be overstating their support for the military, but preference falsification varies across social groups. This suggests that there are specific drivers of preference falsification beyond general social desirability bias. We systematically examine different explanations for the presence of social desirability bias among Tunisian respondents and attempt to identify central dimensions of military support. The fact that we find discrepancies in support for the military even in the relatively open political context of Tunisia suggests that similar exercises would probably uncover even more significant divergences in other cases in the Middle East. These empirical findings have significant implications for the study of civil-military relations and democratic consolidation more broadly, for preference falsification appears to be a prominent holdover from authoritarian rule.


Kevin Koehler is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Politics at the Institute of Political Science, Leiden University. Prior to joining the Institute in January 2019, Kevin served as a Research Advisor at the Middle East Faculty of the NATO Defense College in Rome, as an Assistant Professor of Comparative Methods at the American University in Cairo and held a postdoc position at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Kevin’s research focuses on the Middle East and North Africa and in particular on civil-military relations, security dynamics, and the politics of authoritarian rule in the region and beyond.


Location:
Seminar Room Mansarda

Affiliation:
Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies

Type:
Roundtable

Organiser:
Federica Bicchi (EUI)
Georges Fahmi (EUI)
Matteo Capasso (EUI)

Discussant:
Kevin Koehler (Institute of Political Science, Leiden University)

Contact:
Chiara Tarasco (European University Institute) - Send a mail

Links:
EU-LISTCO
Global Governance Programme
 
 

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