Presentation Title
How International Post-Conflict Reforms Improve Public Opinion of State Bureaucracies: Experimental Evidence with the Liberian National Police
Cornell University
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Gibson Hall 296

Sabrina Karim is an Assistant Professor in the department of Government. Her research focuses on conflict and peace processes, particularly state building in the aftermath of civil war.  Specifically, she studies international involvement in security assistance to post-conflict states, gender reforms in peacekeeping and domestic security sectors, and the relationship between gender and violence.  Much of her research has been in sub-Saharan Africa, where she has conducted field experiments, lab experiments, and surveys.  She is the co-author of Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping: Women, Peace, and Security in Post-Conflict Countries (Oxford University Press, 2017).  The book was the winner of the Conflict Research Studies Best Book Prize for 2017 and the American Political Science Association Conflict Processes Best Book Prize in 2018.  Her work has appeared in International Organization, the British Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Peace Research, International Interactions, World Development, and Conflict Management and Peace Science.  Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Folke Bernadotte Academy, the International Growth Centre, and the British Research Council.  Born and raised in Colorado, Sabrina received her PhD from Emory University in 2016.

As governments move to consolidate territory, they increase the state’s presence in areas of limited statehood.  There are at least two ways that this presence may influence the public opinion of those living in such areas: Face-to-face interactions with bureaucrats may improve public opinion of the bureaucracy.  Additionally, interactions with bureaucrats who represent the population could improve public opinion.   I test these two mechanisms using a novel field experiment in rural Liberia. Households in remote parts of Liberia were visited by either male or female police officers, or no police officers at all.  The results from the field experiment show that face-to-face interactions with police officers improved perceptions of police restraint and police effectiveness.  Increases in women’s representation in policing did not improve nor corrode public opinion.  The short-term implication is that as governments move to increase their presence, interactions with bureaucrats shape public perceptions of the state.