CPSA/ISA-Canada section on International Relations
C14(c) - The Role of Consumer Preferences in International Economic Relations
Date: Jun 5 | Time: 03:45pm to 05:15pm | Location: SWING 106
Chair/Président/Présidente : Paul Kellogg (Athabasca University)
Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Paul Kellogg (Athabasca University)
Trade Conflict and Consumer Choice: Evidence from Canada: Xiaojun Li (University of British Columbia), Adam Liu (Yale University) Abstract: Trade conflict is on the rise worldwide. Since taking office, President Donald Trump has been ramping up rhetoric of protectionism followed up by tariff hikes against rival as well as allied states. These protectionist measures have not only prompted retaliatory actions from trading partners, but also led to grassroot actions in the target countries, as consumers prepare to strike back with small acts of resistance. For example, as tensions escalated recently between the United States and Canada, many Canadians are vowing to boycott U.S. goods and travel. Why do some consumers take it upon themselves in a trade dispute, even if doing so means changing their habitual behaviors and paying higher prices? Under what conditions are consumers more likely to boycott foreign goods and services? This study aims to answer these questions by implementing a survey experiment in Canada. Drawing insights from scholarship in political psychology and marketing research, we hypothesize that consumers’ boycott decisions would depend on the actions of other domestic consumers and those of the rival state. Specifically, people will be less likely to join the boycott chorus when they know that their fellow consumers are already in the game. However, they will be more motivated to participate when consumers from the rival state are boycotting. Findings of this study will help advance our understanding of the micro-foundations of the political economy of trade conflict between nations.
Regional Integration Under Fire? A Comparative Network Analysis of NAFTA Legitimation Discourse in the US and Canadian Quality Press: Steffen Schneider (University of Munich) Abstract: Are the regional integration projects established in the post-war decades or in the “new wave” of the 1990s faced with a legitimacy crisis in today’s climate of populism? Has the “permissive consensus” on regional integration turned into the “constraining dissent” diagnosed by Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks for the European Union? The intense politicization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the United States – followed by its renegotiation in 2018 – suggests as much. The paper is based on the notion that the legitimacy of (inter)national political regimes – including regional integration projects such as NAFTA – is constructed and reproduced, transformed, or withdrawn in national public spheres and discourse. It examines the politicization and (de)legitimation of NAFTA in US and Canadian media discourse since 1994. The method of discourse network analysis is used to identify structures and trends in the public (de)legitimation of NAFTA in the US and Canadian quality press, and to probe the evolution of discourse coalitions and repertoires of normative arguments in which support or criticism is grounded. The study draws on an original text corpus and data set of several thousand legitimation statements – positive or critical assessments of NAFTA’s legitimacy – in four US and Canadian newspapers. The analysis shows that while legitimation discourse in both countries and mediated public spheres is characterized by an ebb and flow of attention to the legitimacy issue and support levels, the discourse coalition of NAFTA legitimizers has always remained weaker in the United States.
How Do Individuals Obtain Information About Trade Policies?: Kim-Lee Tuxhorn (University of Calgary) Abstract: How do individuals obtain information about trade policies? Prior work has shown that informative vignettes providing knowledge about trade policies and their distributional consequences influences individuals to express preferences according to economic self-interest. Yet, we still know little about how individuals search for and obtain information relevant to trade policy. This paper extends the literature on information and trade preferences by using an online experiment (dynamic process tracing environment) designed to study how individuals search for information about trade policy. Drawing from theories of cognitive heuristics and trade preferences, we develop four heuristics (partisan cues, news sources, special interest endorsements, international viewpoints) that may explain how individuals seek out information related to trade. We conduct a pilot study to test these hypothesized heuristics in a mock campaign about a newly proposed free trade agreement (FTA). In contrast to the survey literature showing no relationship between trade preferences and partisanship, we find that partisan cues have a strong effect on whether respondents willingly choose to read information about the proposed deal. Our results highlight how partisanship may be indirectly influencing mass attitudes toward trade.