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Article

Audience Fragmentation and Journalism in the U.S. Context  

Angela M. Lee

The association between audience fragmentation and journalism is an intricate one. On the one hand, the word “audience” refers to an assembly of a group of consumers, such as book or magazine readers, moviegoers, radio or podcast listeners, television viewers, and website visitors, and they are primarily distinguished by the particular media product, genre, or outlet that they choose to consume. Webster stated in 2016 that oftentimes the purpose and consequence of audience research are financial—i.e., book publishers tend to break down their market by readers of different genres, which allows them to better tailor their content and promotions to relevant audiences in order to maximize book sales—and thus the goal of audience research in such contexts lies in finding the balance between capturing the largest number of media users who share similar consumption patterns and the narrowest content clusters—i.e., those separated by topic or genres. On the other hand, whereas the purpose of audience conceptualization fundamentally revolves around fragmentation, the motivation for journalism in democratic societies is arguably the opposite. That is, if one were to believe, as Kovach and Rosenstiel posited in 2007, that the purpose of journalism is to inform and educate the people so they can self-govern and make better civil decisions in democratic societies, then it follows that the primary objective of journalism lies in serving as many citizens with the same information as possible. In short, the purpose of audience fragmentation and journalism is—in many ways—ontologically contradictory, with the former being more pluralistic in nature. The topic of audience fragmentation is approached primarily from a commercial perspective, and in the context of the US market. It should be acknowledged, however, that this topic can and has been approached differently, via critical studies and across other markets. The end of this article offers a cursory comparative analysis between the USA and other Western countries to help contextualize findings from the USA in a global context. For those with deeper interest in such other inquiries, the recommended readings provided at the end of this article may offer a good starting point. It should be noted that one of the biggest obstacles in the study of audience fragmentation, at least in the USA, lies in the fact that large-scale media reports of such data (e.g., those published by the Pew Research Center) often compare apples and oranges (e.g., either using survey questions with different operationalizations as the basis for comparison or reporting on different facets of audience fragmentation in its longitudinal studies, as this article will explain). To this end, this article is a first step in offering a baseline cross-sectional overview of how American audiences are consuming the news in 2018 via analysis of select Pew data files with comparable sampling method and survey instruments.

Article

Party Systems: Types, Dimensions, and Explanations  

Zsolt Enyedi and Fernando Casal Bértoa

The study of political parties and party systems is intimately linked to the development of modern political science. The configuration of party competition varies across time and across polities. In order to capture this variance, one needs to go beyond the analysis of individual parties and to focus on their numbers (i.e. fragmentation), their interactions (i.e. closure), the prevailing ideological patterns (i.e. polarization), and the stability of the balance of power (i.e. volatility) in all spheres of competition, including the electoral, parliamentary, and governmental arenas. Together, these factors constitute the core informal institution of modern politics: a party system. The relevant scholarship relates the stability of party systems to the degree of the institutionalization of individual parties, to various institutional factors such as electoral systems, to sociologically anchored structures such as cleavages, to economic characteristics of the polity (primarily growth), to historical legacies (for example, the type of dictatorship that preceded competitive politics) and to the length of democratic experience and to the characteristics of the time when democracy was established. The predictability of party relations has been found to influence both the stability of governments and the quality of democracy. However, still a lot is to be learned about party systems in Africa or Asia, the pre-WWII era or in regional and/or local contexts. Similarly, more research is needed regarding the role of colonialism or how party system stability affects policy-making. As far as temporal change is concerned, we are witnessing a trend towards the destabilization of party systems, but the different indicators show different dynamics. It is therefore crucial to acknowledge that party systems are complex, multifaceted phenomena.

Article

The Climate Change Regime  

Philipp Pattberg and Oscar Widerberg

In 1992, when the international community agreed on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the science of climate change was under development, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were by and large produced by developed countries, and the concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere had just surpassed 350 ppm. Some 25 years later, climate change is scientifically uncontested, China has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest emitter of CO2, and concentrations are now measured above 400 ppm. Against this background, states have successfully concluded a new global agreement under the UNFCCC, the 2015 Paris Agreement. Prior to the Paris Agreement, the climate regime focused on allocating emission reduction commitments among (a group of) countries. However, the new agreement has turned the climate regime on its feet by introducing an approach based on Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Under this approach, states decide their ambition levels independently instead of engaging in negotiations about “who does what.” The result is a more flexible system that for the first time includes all countries in the quest to reduce GHG emissions to keep temperature increase below 2°C compared to preindustrial levels. Moreover, the international climate regime has transformed into a regime complex, denoting the broad activities of smaller groups of states as well as non-party actors, such as cities, regions, companies, and non-governmental organizations along with United Nations agencies.

Article

Resource Wealth and Political Decentralization in Latin America  

Moises Arce and Michael Hendricks

Existing literature has emphasized economic conditions as central to protests over resource extraction. However, it is also necessary to examine the political conditions that make some regions or provinces more prone to protest. These political conditions are tied to electoral and partisan dynamics and draw attention to the political context or environment in which protests emerge. Focusing on electoral and partisan dynamics can help explain the variation of protest across geography and time, and in particular, why similar resource-abundant provinces within the same country experience different levels of protest.

Article

Chelyabinsk Meteorite  

Olga Popova

The asteroid impact near the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on February 15, 2013, was the largest airburst on Earth since the 1908 Tunguska event, causing a natural disaster in an area with a population exceeding 1 million. On clear morning at 9:20 a.m. local time, an asteroid about 19 m in size entered the Earth atmosphere near southern Ural Mountains (Russia) and, with its bright illumination, attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of people. Dust trail in the atmosphere after the bolide was tens of kilometers long and was visible for several hours. Thousands of different size meteorites were found in the areas south-southwest of Chelyabinsk. A powerful airburst, which was formed due to meteoroid energy deposition, shattered thousands of windows and doors in Chelyabinsk and wide surroundings, with flying glass injuring many residents. The entrance and destruction of the 500-kt Chelyabinsk asteroid produced a number of observable effects, including light and thermal radiation; acoustic, infrasound, blast, and seismic waves; and release of interplanetary substance. This unexpected and unusual event is the most well-documented bolide airburst, and it attracted worldwide attention. The airburst was observed globally by multiple instruments. Analyses of the observational data allowed determination of the size of the body that caused the superbolide, its velocity, its trajectory, its behavior in the atmosphere, the strength of the blast wave, and other characteristics. The entry of the 19-m-diameter Chelyabinsk asteroid provides a unique opportunity to calibrate the different approaches used to model meteoroid entry and to calculate the damaging effects. The recovered meteorite material was characterized as brecciated LL5 ordinary chondrite, in which three different lithologies can be distinguished (light-colored, dark-colored, and impact-melt). The structure and properties of meteorites demonstrate that before encountering Earth, the Chelyabinsk asteroid had experienced a very complex history involving at least a few impacts with other bodies and thermal metamorphism. The Chelyabinsk airburst of February 15, 2013, was exceptional because of the large kinetic energy of the impacting body and the damaging airburst that was generated. Before the event, decameter-sized objects were considered to be safe. With the Chelyabinsk event, it is possible, for the first time, to link the damage from an impact event to a well-determined impact energy in order to assess the future hazards of asteroids to lives and property.

Article

Planet Formation Through Gravitational Instabilities  

Ken Rice

It is now widely accepted that planets form in discs around young stars, with the most widely accepted planet formation scenario being a bottom-up process typically referred to as “core accretion.” The basic process involves a core growing through the accumulation of solids and, if it gets massive enough while there is still gas present in the disc, undergoing a runaway gas accretion phase to form a Jupiter-like gas giant. However, early models of this process suggested that the formation timescale for a Jupiter-like gas giant exceeded the lifetime of the gas disc, suggesting that massive, gas giant planets form via some alternative process. One possibility is that they form via direct gravitational collapse. During the earliest stages of star formation, the disc around a young star can have a mass that is comparable to that of the central protostar and can be susceptible to the growth of a gravitational instability. One outcome of such an instability is that the disc fragments into bound objects that can then contract to become gas giant planets. This would happen very early in the star formation process and is very rapid, overcoming the timescale problem. Subsequent work has, however, both illustrated that core accretion may operate on timescales shorter than disc lifetimes and that disc fragmentation is very unlikely to operate in the inner parts of planet-forming discs. Hence, it is very unlikely that disc fragmentation plays a role in the direct formation of close-in exoplanets. However, disc fragmentation may operate at large orbital radii and is expected to preferentially form either massive gas giant planets or brown dwarfs. Therefore, it is intriguing that exactly such objects are starting to be directly imaged at orbital radii where disc fragmentation may operate. Additionally, even if a self-gravitating phase doesn’t play a direct role in the formation of gas giant planets, it may play an indirect role in the planet formation process. The spiral density waves that develop due to the gravitational instability can act to enhance the local density of solids, potentially accelerating their collisional growth or leading to the direct gravitational collapse of the solid component of the disc. This could then provide some of the building blocks for planets that later form via core accretion.

Article

U.S. Water Policy and Planning With Respect to Climate Change  

Caitlin Dyckman

The concept of a uniform U.S. water policy is a fallacy, instead resembling a mythological hydra with three primary necks that broadly encapsulate the following topics: (a) water usage patterns and demands, (b) governance structures (legal and economic), and (c) evolving scientific information and analysis (projection, planning, etc.). The body, feet, and tail of the policy and planning hydra are the physical hydrologic reality of natural and built systems, responding to the heads’ decisions. During the 20th and early 21st centuries, the hydra was governed by concepts of stationarity maintenance in each of the necks, with devolved and pragmatic fragmentation in the governance and scientific information and analysis necks, as follows. Water supply achieves stationarity through physical storage and centralized infrastructure; federal engineers altered hydrologic systems for flood control, more consistent water supply, and transportation/commerce. Water governance increasingly fragmented from the heterogeneity of water users’ interests, authority, and separation between water quality and quantity. Water law and economics coevolved to buffer demand’s nonstationarity. Planning responsibility shifted from federal agencies to states, with guidance from the country’s closest effort to manifest a unified national water policy through the National Water Commission’s 1973 report recommendations, despite its lack of official enactment. Stationarity negatively impacted aquatic ecosystems through dam flow alteration, omission in water use accounting, lack of legal protection in state allocation structures, lack of a market value, and only early 21st century inclusion in federal, state, and local water planning. Climate change further stresses these existing flaws in social and physical water management systems and processes. Its extremity in the body of the hydra reverberates through each of the necks and heads in variable ways, upending stationarity and challenging already fragmentated governance capacity. Policy and planning face greater uncertainty by geographic area, necessitating adaptive water management. Water managers must ubiquitously realize greater efficiency through innovative demand reduction mechanisms and decentralized infrastructure that can withstand significant hydrological cycle alterations, including changes to peak flow and more substantial reservoir evaporation outside the stationarity envelope. Climate adaptation in water law will require additional sacrifice concurrent with the early 21st century legal allocation and acknowledgement of historically marginalized water rights. Planning approaches must increase their flexibility, relying more heavily on water governance that embraces a cooperative, holistic perspective, recognizing interreliance and connectivity to increase resilience. The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 may be the first step toward a unified national water policy since the 1973 report. Climate change forces the question of whether to cede full water management authority to the federal government or to sustain the creative and localized solutions fomented by pragmatic federalism.

Article

Rock Avalanches  

Tim Davies

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science. Please check back later for the full article. Rock avalanches are very large (> 1 million cubic meters) landslides from rock slopes, which can travel much farther across the landscape than smaller events; the larger the avalanche, the greater the excess travel distance. Rock avalanches first became prominent in Switzerland in the 1800s, when the Elm and Goldau events killed people a surprisingly long way from the origin of the landslide; these events first posed the “long-runout rock-avalanche” problem. In essence, the long runout of these events appears to require low friction beneath and within the moving rock mass in order to explain their extremely long deposits; but in spite of recently intense research, this low friction still lacks a generally accepted explanation. Large collapses of volcano edifices can also generate rock avalanches that travel very long distances, albeit with a different runout-volume relationship to that of non-volcanic events. Compounding the puzzle is the presence of long-runout deposits not just on land, but also beneath the sea and on the surfaces of Mars and the Moon. Numerous studies of rock avalanches have yielded some consistencies of material and behavior, for example, that little or no mixing of material occurs within the moving debris mass during runout; that the deposit material beneath a meter-scale surface layer is pervasively and intensely fragmented, with fragments down to sub-micron size; that many of these fragments are themselves agglomerates of even finer particles; that throughout the travel of a rock avalanche, large volumes of fine dust are produced; that rock avalanche surfaces are typically hummocky at a range of scales; and that there are definite trends in plots of runout distance against volume from rock avalanches in different environments. Since rock avalanches can travel tens of kilometers from their source, they pose severe, if low-probability, direct hazards to societal assets in mountain valleys. Compounding this is their effect in the triggering of extensive and long-duration geomorphic hazard cascades. Although large rock avalanches are rare, magnitude-frequency studies show that the proportion of total volume involved in large events is greater than the proportion in small events, so that a large proportion of the total sediment generated in mountains by uplift and denudation originates in large rock avalanches. Consequently, large rock avalanches exert a significant influence on mountain geomorphology by, for example, blocking rivers and forming landslide dams; these either fail, causing large dambreak floods and intense, long-duration aggradation episodes to propagate down river systems; or remain intact to infill with sediment and form large valley flats. Rock avalanches that fall onto glaciers often result in large terminal moraines being formed as debris accumulates at the glacier terminus, and these moraines may have no relation to any climatic change. In addition, misinterpretation of rock avalanche deposits as moraines can cause serious underestimation of hazard risk and misinterpretation of paleoclimate; for example, a deposit 28 km long in Kyrgyzstan was originally thought to be of glacial origin, but it is now known to be a rock avalanche caused by coseismic failure of a mountain slope. Rock avalanche runout behavior poses truly fundamental scientific questions, and rock avalanches have important effects on a wide range of geomorphic processes. Better understanding of these awesome events is crucial for both geoscientific progress and for reducing impacts of future disasters.

Article

Fractionalization and Civil War  

Kathleen Gallagher Cunningham

Civil wars have becoming increasingly complex in the last 50 years, the role of fragmentation in contemporary civil wars needs to be addressed. Two primary dimensions of fractionalization are: (1) fragmented conflict (i.e., those with many different actor) and (2) fragmented actors (i.e., internally divided “sides” of a conflict). In addition to the two types of fragmentation, there are also various causes of fragmentation. The primary causes of fractionalized conflicts are rooted in the interplay between opposition actors and the government, and among opposition actors. Peace negotiations, accommodation, and the process of war all put stress on opposition actors (and to perhaps a more limited extent, on governments). Lastly, there is a set of conflict-related outcomes and processes that have been linked empirically to fractionalization. These include accommodation of opposition demands, higher rates of violence (against the state and civilians), infighting, duration of conflict, and side-switching.

Article

Exploring the Politics of Institutional Fragmentation in Transboundary River Basins  

Christian Bréthaut and Laura Turley

Institutional fragmentation has been less addressed by research when considering the specific context of transboundary river basins, settings that are often characterized by multiple regulatory frameworks as well as by a great range of uses and users of the river that intervene at different institutional levels. Considering that such contexts represent fertile ground for reinforced use rivalries and exacerbated power relations, it is key to focus on the very nature and results of such institutional fragmentation; in other words, it is necessary to explore the politics of institutional fragmentation in transboundary rivers. Three main bodies of literature are suggested as insightful perspectives to provide enhanced understanding of such contexts: (a) institutional fit literature: challenges of fits between institutions and ecosystems, (b) legal pluralism: interplay and co-existence of different normative orders, (c) polycentric governance: coordination modalities between different and independent decision-making centers.

Article

Southern Gallo-Romance: Occitan and Gascon  

Andres M. Kristol

Occitan, a language of high medieval literary culture, historically occupies the southern third of France. Today it is dialectalized and highly endangered, like all the regional languages of France. Its main linguistic regions are Languedocien, Provençal, Limousin, Auvergnat, Vivaro-dauphinois (Alpine Provençal) and, linguistically on the fringes of the domain, Gascon. Despite its dialectalization, its typological unity and the profound difference that separates it from Northern Galloroman (Oïl dialects, Francoprovençal) and Gallo-Italian remain clearly perceptible. Its history is characterised by several ruptures (the Crusade against the Albigensians, the French Revolution) and several attempts at "rebirth" (the Baroque period, the Felibrige movement in the second half of the 19th century, the Occitanist movement of the 20th century). Towards the end of the Middle Ages, the Occitan koinè, a literary and administrative language integrating the main dialectal characteristics of all regions, was lost and replaced by makeshift regional spellings based on the French spelling. The modern Occitanist orthography tries to overcome these divisions by coming as close as possible to the medieval, "classical" written tradition, while respecting the main regional characteristics. Being a bridge language between northern Galloroman (Oïl varieties and Francoprovençal), Italy and Iberoromania, Occitan is a relatively conservative language in terms of its phonetic evolution from the popular spoken Latin of western Romania, its morphology and syntax (absence of subject clitics in the verbal system, conservation of a fully functional simple past tense). Only Gascon, which was already considered a specific language in the Middle Ages, presents particular structures that make it unique among Romance languages (development of a system of enunciative particles).

Article

Party Systems in Latin America  

Laura Wills-Otero

Since the beginning of the third wave of democratization in the late 1970s, Latin American party systems have confronted several challenges, and they have frequently been transformed. There have been various types of changes. While some systems collapsed in the 1990s (e.g., Venezuela and Peru), others realigned (Colombia, Chile, and Uruguay), or expanded (Argentina and Mexico), or were able to become consolidated and ensure their stability over time (e.g., Brazil). What factors explain the transformations in party systems during the past three decades, and how can Latin American party systems be classified according to their attributes? In trying to answer these questions, scholars of Latin America have undertaken studies that are both theoretically and empirically rich. Their work has increased our knowledge of the party systems and representative democracies in the region. Different factors have been highlighted in order to explain the changes these systems have undergone since the third wave of democratization. Some works emphasize the importance of institutional reforms introduced by politicians or by constitutional assemblies. The questions they address are the following: What political reforms have been introduced into Latin American political systems, and what effects have they had on the party systems in different countries? The researchers do not limit their attention to reforms of electoral systems. For example, some of them also study decentralization processes and their effects on party systems. From a different perspective, other authors focus on changes in electoral preferences and their effects on the configuration of political power, exploring how regional economic, political, and social changes have affected voter preferences and the political configuration of party systems. Still others consider the crises of democratic representation in these countries, underlining the decline in the programmatic character of parties as an explanatory variable for the crises and noting that the level of institutionalization of a party system declines when parties abandon this distinctive feature and become clientelistic or personalistic instead. On the other hand, in order to describe party systems and to observe the changes they have undergone, academics have proposed a set of concepts and measurements that make it possible to identify their levels of institutionalization (i.e., stability vs. volatility), nationalization, and programmatic structuration, among other aspects. The operationalization of these concepts has provided researchers with useful data for describing, comparing, and analyzing the party systems of the region transversely over time. Understanding the transformation and characteristics of Latin American party systems over time sheds light on both the progress democratic regimes have made and the setbacks they have suffered within specific countries and in the region at large.

Article

Habitat Loss  

Mònica Pons-Hernández

Habitat loss refers to the disappearance of natural environments that house specific plant and animal species. Habitat loss encompass three main types: habitat destruction, degradation, and fragmentation. Habitat destruction involves extensive devastation of natural environments, habitat degradation results from the depletion of vital resources like water and food, and habitat fragmentation refers to the conversion of large wild areas into smaller ones. All forms of habitat loss are endangering species’ survival. Primarily driven by human activities, the loss of habitat adversely affects terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Land conversion for agriculture, mining, and urban development leads to the loss of forests and other habitats. Aquatic environments also suffer habitat loss caused by dredging, pollution, or waste. Moreover, climate change, a consequence of global warming, further intensifies habitat loss. Droughts, floods, wildfires, and changing water conditions impact both terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Although the link between habitat destruction and criminology may not be immediately apparent, its harmful effects make it of interest to criminologists. Green criminology’s focus on harms, along with crimes and the impacts of these harms toward all species and environments, makes habitat loss of key interest for criminology. Habitat loss falls under the scope of green criminology because of its effects on ecosystems, humans, and nonhuman species. It is important to note that habitat and biodiversity loss are deeply intertwined. The case of the European eel illustrates the (slow) violence linked to habitat loss and its effects on biodiversity. European eels face multiple threats due to habitat destruction, fragmentation, and degradation. The construction of weirs and dams is one of the major factors that negatively impacts eels. It restricts their movement and blocks both upstream and downstream migration routes, destroying and fragmenting their habitat. As a migratory species, freedom of movement is crucial for their survival, making the presence of these barriers a significant concern. Additionally, global warming and ocean modifications further degrade eels’ habitats, affecting the survival of larvae during their drift and silver (adult) eels during their spawning migration. Furthermore, the introduction of nonnative species and the increasing contamination levels in eel habitats also contribute to their degradation, posing another danger to the species’ survival. Overall, European eels are a landmark opportunity to highlight the diverse range of causes of habitat loss and the (slow) violence ingrained in it.

Article

Political Parties and Democratization  

John Ishiyama

Parties are indispensable to the building and maintenance of democracy. This is because parties are purported to promote representation, conflict management, integration, and accountability in new democracies. Second, the failures of parties in helping to build democracy in systems in transition are because they have not performed these functions very well. Third, there are three emerging research agendas to be explored that address the relationship between parties and democratic consolidation: (a) the promotion of institutional innovations that help build institutionalized party systems; (b) the role of ethnic parties in democratization and democratic consolidation; and (c) the role of rebel parties in building peace and democracy after civil wars. Although not entirely exhaustive, these three agendas represent promising avenues of research into the role political parties play in democratization.