Dissertation Defense: Madison Schramm

Candidate Name: Madison Schramm

Major: Government

Advisor: Matthew Kroenig, Ph.D.

Title: Making Meaning and Making Monsters: Democracies, Personalist Regimes, and International Conflict

It is well established that while democracies don’t fight other democracies, they frequently engage in conflict with autocratic regimes. This project demonstrates that democracies are particularly prone to engaging in conflict with countries ruled by personalist dictators, as opposed to autocracies with some form of collective leadership. I argue that this pattern cannot be explained only with reference to the autocracies themselves, but instead must be understood as stemming from psychological biases and the political and strategic culture of democratic elites. Identity, psychology, and culture work to exacerbate the (perceived) threat personalist regimes pose to democracies. Importantly, these dynamics can manifest when the autocratic regime in question is deeply institutionalized but perceived as being ruled by a strongman figure. I explore these issues using statistical analysis, archival research, and survey experiments in multiple countries.

Thursday, July 25, 2019 at 1:00pm to 3:00pm

Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center, 450
37th and O St., N.W., Washington

Event Type

Academic Events, Dissertation Defense


Georgetown College, Government, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences



Open to the public and the press?


Event Contact Name

Paula Lyons

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