Q&A with Kiyoteru Tsutsui
What also emerged from the in-depth examination of these social movements is that these local groups not only receive the benefits of global human rights but also give back to global human rights. Initially, their engagement tends to be more instrumental, trying to get something out of international human rights institutions. But once some of their goals are met and their participation in global forums becomes extended, they tend to develop commitment to contribute to the international forums that they received benefits from. This feedback happened to all three groups as they contributed to consolidation and expansion of global human rights norms. These core findings emerged from data analysis, and the original focus on the global-local interplay in human rights morphed into a focus on how global human rights transforms movement actorhood of the minority groups and leads to expanded activism and greater success, and on how those local groups feed back to global human rights to contribute to the sustenance of the global human rights infrastructure. How has writing this book influenced your overall research agenda? What do you see as the core themes motivating your research going forward? Since the book is a case study of three groups in one country, originally motivated by large-N cross-national analyses, it was natural for me to get back to a large-N analysis again, this time to focus on how national law intersects with international law. So I teamed up with my collaborator in Germany to launch a new project on how constitutional provisions on minority rights changed over time and impacted minority rights practices. This project involves coding of all the national constitutions that ever existed, and we are finally done with coding and working on the analyses. To complement the cross-national quantitative analyses, we are also putting together an edited volume that assembled experts of various country cases to write about the evolution of minority rights jurisprudence and its on-the-ground impact in their focal countries. This one-two punch of large-N quantitative analysis and focused qualitative case studies is very informative to me, and I will continue to employ this mixed- methods approach in my future projects. My other projects include the campus human rights index, which ranks all major universities in the US in terms of their commitment to and practice of human rights; the contours of human rights advocacy, which features big data analysis of press releases of major human rights NGOs; and populism and the future of democracy, which examines the causes and consequences of populism in the contemporary world. In all these projects, the core theme continues to be how ideas shape social, political action, and I adopt a mixed-methods approach to understand both the macro trend and actual mechanisms at work. Where do you see the political sociology subfield heading? What do you think are some of the key ways you can that political sociology can contribute to current academic and public debates? There are some exciting methodological innovations in computational social science that political sociologists should take advantage of. Political scientists seem to have the edge right now but we can still catch up and offer interesting and innovative analyses that shed new light on political debates of our time, using big data, computational text analysis, survey experiments, field experiments, etc.