UMass Amherst Department of Political Science

Frederic C. Schaffer

Professor of Political Science

Thompson 340
Office Hours: Spring 2014 - Tue 4:00-5:30 and by appointment
Email: schaffer@polsci.umass.edu
Phone: (413) 545-0725

I study the meaning of democracy, the practice of voting, and the administration of elections. What sets much of my work apart from other empirical research on democracy is a methodological focus on language.

Interests:

My area of specialization is comparative politics. Substantively, I study the meaning of democracy, the practice of voting, and the administration of elections. What sets much of my work apart from other empirical research on democracy is a methodological focus on language. By investigating carefully the differing ways in which ordinary people around the world use terms such as "democracy," "politics," or "vote buying" - or their rough equivalents in other languages - I aim to arrive at a fuller appreciation of how they understand and make use of electoral institutions. This richer appreciation, I believe, is both intrinsically interesting and crucial to tackling real-world political problems. A good deal of my research, to be more specific, has taken up three basic but understudied questions: (1) Does democracy, when translated, mean what we think it does? (2) Why do attempts to make elections less fraudulent and error-prone so often backfire? (3) What exactly is vote buying, why is it bad, and can it be reformed away?

Education:
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Courses Taught:
The Language of Politics; What is Politics?; Is Democracy Possible Everywhere?; Comparative Politics Proseminar

Current Projects:
Elucidating Social Science Concepts: An Interpretivist Guide (Forthcoming, Routledge).

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