My research lies at the intersection of comparative politics and political behavior. At the broadest level, I endeavor to understand how different social and political contexts shape actors’ identities and to delineate the behavioral implications of such processes. The rationale behind my theoretical and empirical inquiries aligns with the notion that identity is dynamic rather than fixed. Accordingly, the premise of my analytical approach is that identity and behavior are mutually-constitutive and their interplay is context-dependent. Hence, my broad research agenda is to identify, trace, and unravel the core elements of different identification processes, their concomitant manifestations and political implications – all these in the European context. To this end I employ a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods such as survey analysis and statistical inference, as well as discourse and automatic text analysis.
My current research agenda concerns the politics of populism in Europe. The objective is to demonstrate that, as of 40 years ago or even earlier, a discrepancy emerged, and has since steadily increased, between the “supply” of parties, on the one hand, and public preferences and demand for such parties, on the other. I call this chasm “representation gap,” and explain it based on a theory of political vacuum, proposed and developed by my colleagues and myself. In this perspective, the success of populist parties in Europe is contingent on the size of this representation gap.
SUMMARY OF PUBLISHED WORK
Oshri (PhD thesis 2017): My dissertation comprises three main chapters. The three respective research objectives are addressed using a wide array of methodological tools, of which the main are multilevel, cross-sectional and longitudinal regression models and automatic content analysis. The three chapters focus on processes of socialization and identity-building in the EU, often dubbed in the literature as Europeanization.
Oshri, Sheafer &Shenhav (published in European Union Politics, 2016): This article focuses on the micro-foundations of norms’ acceptance through the lens of Social Identity Theory. The main finding of the research, which is based on public opinion surveys and multilevel models, is that membership duration in the EU is closely associated with citizens’ adherence to liberal democratic values. Put differently, the longer a country has been a member of the EU, the stronger its citizens’ support of the EU’s values.
Oshri & Shenhav (forthcoming in European Journal of Political Research): In this article we probe the ways through which the EU incorporates new values and goals. We propose and elaborate a discursive mechanism of differentiated value integration, which is equivalent to the logic of differentiation in policy-making. This mechanism secures a common identity by preserving a core of fundamental values. Importantly, however, it allows adding new values peripherally, and thereby also some changes and developments, without affecting the heart of EU identity.
Shenhav, Oshri, Ofek & Sheafer (published in Political Psychology 2014): In this article, we establish a link between national stories held by voters and possible behaviors of political parties while forming coalitions. Using an exit poll survey conducted during the 2009 elections in Israel, we gauge voters’ stories and then operationalize each party as the aggregation of its voters' story preferences. We apply coalition-formation models in conjunction with theoretical premises of the narrative approach in an attempt to show how political narratives shape the behavior of individuals (voters) and groups (parties).
Oshri, Kedar & Hazan. 'Voting for Equality: The Gender gap in Voting in the 2013 Israeli Elections.' In this paper, we demonstrate that Israeli women’s positions are more hawkish compared to men’s, yet women support left-leaning parties at higher rates. We address this paradox based on the weight (salience) of a voter’s position regarding a specific issue in determining his or her voting decision
Oshri, Harsgor & Malka. ‘Politics of recognition and redistribution: The effect of feminist consciousness on vote choice in the 2013 Israeli elections.’ In this paper, we theoretically distinguish between two dimensions of feminist consciousness. One rests on the case for recognizing women as a unique collective in society, while the other relates to equitable distribution of resources between women and men. Based on a vote-choice model, we demonstrate that redistribution-based feminism has an effect on voting. However, contrary to a common assumption, it has stronger effect on vote choices of men than of women.
Oshri & Fogel-Dror.'A matter of identity: Measuring agenda setting power in a fragmented parliament.' Close to submission. Presented at EPSA 2017. This paper assesses legislators' discursive interactions in order to examine the agenda-setting power of groups in the European Parliament. First, we map the discourse space in the EP by automatically topic-modeling the discourse in its 6th session. Next, we extract the net effect of each group on the discourse, showing how the political-discourse space in the EP is divided according to groups, with different groups controlling different agendas. Finally, we demonstrate that, although the EP is organized along transnational lines, it enables groups with different political affiliations to make their voices heard, both nationally and transnationally. Whose voice is the loudest depends on the issue at hand.
Kedar, Halevy & Oshri. 'The changing gender gap in voting in Western Europe: Did women shift to the left? Did men shift to the right?' Close to submission. We examine the gender gap in vote choices in Europe. While up until the 1970s, women tended to support conservative parties at higher rates than men, that gap has since substantially narrowed, and in many countries the pattern has reversed altogether. Evidence suggests that, over the past four decades, in many of the countries women have shifted their support towards left parties. We argue, however, that this finding accounts for the gender gap only partially. To present a more comprehensive picture, we link two strands of literature traditionally regarded as unrelated: women's shift leftward and the rise of the radical right.
Oshri, Yair & Huddy. ‘Social identification with an ideological group and its effects in multi-party systems: Evidence from Israel’. Recent literature contends that, in addition to being a system of values, "ideology" also includes an identity-based component, such that identifying with an ideological group can have distinct effects on the behavior of voters. However, existing research focuses predominantly on ideological identities in the U.S., where liberal-conservative ideological self-placement has been shown as incoherent and a weak predictor of political behavior. In contrast, in Israel, left-right ideology, which pertains to security and foreign policy, is highly predictive of vote choice. At the same time, members of the Israeli left and right are also part of competing socio-cultural groups. This paper thus examines ideological identities in Israel. We show that a multi-item ideological-identity scale accounts for Israelis’ vote choice, political judgments, and attitudes toward different ideological groups, even controlling for "issue-based" ideology. Furthermore, a vignette experiment attests to the power of Israelis' ideological identities to elicit emotional reactions to either threats or reassurances regarding the status of their ideological camp. In conclusion, we discuss the implications of the findings for the ideological-identity literature.
Oshri & Rahat. ‘Personalization and Populism: Separated yet Linked Phenomena’. Personalization and populism are two rising and interlinked phenomena that share similar causes and consequences. However, a systematic conceptual, theoretical and empirical analysis of the relationship between populism and personalization has not been attempted so far. This paper aims to contribute to this relatively unexplored arena. In the attempt to bridge the literature on populism and personalization of politics, the paper identifies the commonalities between the two phenomena. It also demonstrates that each of these two can be seen as a stand-alone phenomenon, though more often than not they tend to appear together. Finally, the paper presents the results of an empirical analysis that examines the relationship between populism and personalization.