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Elite Parties, Poor Voters Paperback – 2015
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Elite Parties Poor Voters
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
One of the strengths of Thachil’s book is its mixed-methods design, which integrates macro data with in-depth field work and surveys conducted on-site in rural villages. This multi-level approach allows him to test hypotheses at a variety of levels to triangulate support for his theory. Because his theory argues that social services buy votes not as quid pro quo but instead by creating its party cadres as valuable, respected members of the community – opinion leaders, if you will, exercising soft power instead of hard – an important part of the evidence had to come from party cadres themselves as well as from the poor rural voters. The theory has implications at the level of Indian states, which are the primary alternative providers of social services, at the level of party and party activist behavior, and at the level of voters, and Thachil’s careful, precise design captures all three.
Not being an expert on India, I can’t say whether there possibly were better locations to have chosen, but the justifications (and data) given in the book for the choices and comparisons were sufficiently convincing for this reader. The mix of descriptive and inferential statistics used created appropriate but still accessible support for the claims, and the claims made were reasonable interpretations of the available evidence. Appropriate attention was paid to interpreting non-events and the absence of evidence. I was thoroughly convinced after reading this book, and that’s not a claim I make lightly or frequently.