PACS news / October 25, 2021

Stanford PACS Announces Fall 2021 Small Grant Winners

Stanford PACS is excited to share our four Small Grant winners: Erik Santoro, Catherine Sirois, Katherine Clayton, and Alexander Landry. The Small Grants program provides undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity, on a quarterly basis, to fund research projects in the areas of philanthropy and civil society. As part of the award experience, these researchers are also welcomed into the larger Stanford PACS community and have the opportunity to collaborate with established scholars, practitioners, and leaders of social change.

Research Project

Erik’s project seeks to understand the extent to which getting cross-partisans to better listen to one another can durably reduce partisan animus and also have downstream consequences for democratic accountability. Inspired by recent research suggesting that cross-partisan conversations only lead to short-term changes in affective polarization, which are conditional on the topic discussed and circumscribed and do not extend to democratic attitudes (Santoro & Broockman, 2021), he hypothesizes that training partisans on how to effectively listen (e.g., ask questions, paraphrase) when talking about politics will have longer-lasting and farther-reaching effects.

Erik Santoro is a PhD student in Social Psychology. He studies when and how intergroup contact can serve to bridge various identity-based divides. Building on his recent work showing that cross-partisan conversations don’t reduce long-run affective polarization, his work through Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society explores how to make such conversation more effective, such as by encouraging active-empathic listening.

Research Project

Catherine’s primary objective of this project is to advance understanding on how state institutions construct and manage the liminal status of crossover youth as both “dependent” and “delinquent” and how state actors’ understanding and treatment of crossover youth shape youths’ self-perception, well-being, and social integration as they proceed through adolescence and transition into adulthood. By integrating observation and interviews with both crossover youth and state actors, the project advances existing research that primarily relies on administrative data to test associations between court involvement and youth outcomes or prior ethnographic studies that focus on either one set of actors or a single state institution. Because crossover youth are perceived as needing both protection and discipline, they illuminate fundamental tensions in how the state operates, particularly in its regulation of marginalized populations. More broadly, the project will grant insight into how early socialization within state institutions influences young people’s later civic engagement, thereby illuminating processes that may inhibit or promote the functioning of democracy.

Catherine Sirois is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University. Her research examines the relationship between social policy and poverty in the United States, and her dissertation focuses on children at the intersection of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Research Project

There are two questions Katherine’s project wishes to answer: first, whether rhetoric from Republican leaders can establish perceptions that the 2020 election was legitimate and re-establish trust in American elections among Republican voters, and second, whether Republican voters will penalize or reward leaders who affirm the legitimacy of the election. This project will focus on the second question, which uses a conjoint experimental design to identify whether there is an electoral penalty to hypothetical Republican candidates who say that the 2020 election was conducted fairly.

Katie Clayton is a PhD candidate in political science at Stanford. She studies public opinion and political behavior, with an emphasis on democratic norms, the politics of race and ethnicity, and immigration politics in both the United States and abroad.

Her research has been published or is forthcoming at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Political Behavior, and Politics, Groups, and Identities, among others, and has received coverage in a variety of major media outlets. Her book, Campus Diversity: The Hidden Consensus, was recently published at Cambridge University Press.

Research Project

Animosity between Democrats and Republicans is at a 40-year high and is undermining support for democratic norms. This is in part due fueled by partisans’ exaggerated perceptions about the degree to which members of the other party dehumanize them (i.e., meta-dehumanization). Alex aims to bolster American political partisans’ support for democratic norms by correcting their exaggerated meta-dehumanization with an intervention informing them of the results from his past research: that members of the other party view them as more human than they think. The proposed research will advance a burgeoning body of work demonstrating the causes and consequences of exaggerated meta-dehumanization. His intervention also provides a means of mitigating the partisan enmity that threatens democratic norms. This would not only be of obvious benefit to society at large, but also holds cross-cutting theoretical import for political scientists, psychologists, communications scholars, and policymakers.

Alex Landry is a first-year graduate student studying organizational behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. He is currently researching the causes and consequences of dehumanization, and its troubling presence in American political life.