La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Mexican Congress

It's bad form to start a conversation and then leave mid-way through, but I had unexpected pressing demands on my time. And, I do have a tenure clock to worry about. Please accept my apologies.

Luckily, Matthew Shugart's conclusion to our exchange about legislative independence and competence in Mexico provided a nice summary. As he points out:
I don’t think Michelle and I actually disagree about much substantively....

....Basically, I am pleading for a research strategy that takes seriously the question of how congress, the parties, and individual members cope with the greater technical capacity currently held by executive ministries, rather than one that assumes Congress lacks independence because the ministries have more technical data than Congress as an institution has....

...I thank Michelle for raising this question. Research into policy-making that takes seriously the variance across policy areas and information flows, as well as the institutional incentives for parties, legislators, and legislatures to insert themselves into the process, is very much the cutting edge of the analysis of policy-making. And not only in Mexico.
I agree that more research should be done in this area, though Matthew and I may still differ on some of the finer methodological points. I only fear that by the time I finish my current projects and get back around to this issue, it probably won't be cutting edge any more.

On the other hand, this is a prime example of how blogging can push academics into new research areas. One of my random observations ["Geez, how can the opposition parties in Congress really hope to formulate an alternative pension reform proposal with only one actuary on staff? Not to mention that the secretaries in the main Committee office keep the TV blaring Mexican classic movies all day...."] combined with reading and blogging about a news story about energy reform may yet lead to more a new research area.

[I, unfortunately, have the problem of too many potential research ideas and not enough time or resources to pursue them all. Some of my ideas may well not be worth pursuing, too. But, who are these academics that run out of ideas??? I've heard they exist, but I can't say that I understand.]

posted by Michelle @ 7:33 PM,


At 10/11/2005 3:50 PM, Blogger La Madre said...

I hope you are keeping a log/journal of research ideas. And as a prof can't you persuade (force) grad students (cheap labor) to pick up some of these ideas?

At 10/11/2005 4:35 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

In part, the blog is supposed to be my log/journal of research ideas. Unfortunately, since I'm not in a department that grants Ph.D.s, my ability to encourage students to pursue certain research agendas is limited. Most of our M.A. students don't even write a thesis.


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