1The complexities, boundaries, and definitions of morality coverage have lengthy intrigued coverage students. Inside the examine of coverage diffusion, students have thought-about whether or not and the way morality insurance policies unfold otherwise than these with much less morality content material. After all, morality content material is a dimension, not a easy dichotomy. Victor David Cruz-Aceves’s e book, The Diffusion of Morality Insurance policies, is a vital step ahead for this pressure of analysis. Whereas this e book nonetheless has the rawness of a dissertation, it’s a useful learn for coverage diffusion students, particularly these learning diffusion throughout the American federal context. Cruz-Aceves is an rising voice in coverage diffusion research, having printed each substantive and methodological work prior (Beer & Cruz-Aceves, 2018; Cruz-Aceves & Mallinson, 2019). This e book is an effective platform for added work on how completely different coverage dimensions have an effect on diffusion patterns.
2A driving consideration for Cruz-Aceves is the concept that morality coverage is best understood in a continuum relatively than as a dichotomous idea. Insurance policies range within the power of their morality dimension, for instance with content material reaching to the core ethical values of a inhabitants (e.g., abortion, capital punishment, and so on.). This usually means the insurance policies have excessive salience, they’re extremely polarized and contentious, whereas they aren’t technically complicated. Students have lengthy acknowledged that insurance policies range of their morality content material, however Cruz-Aceves argues that the impact of variation on this dimension on coverage diffusion just isn’t properly understood.
3The e book begins with an introduction to its fundamental argument, which Cruz-Aceves attracts from latest analysis on coverage attributes, political illustration, curiosity group politics, and diffusion mechanisms. Basically, Cruz-Aceves argues that because the morality content material of a coverage will increase, and thus its concomitant technical complexity decreases and salience will increase, the results of exterior actors on its adoption decline. This has to do with the writer’s expectations about coverage studying. If insurance policies have robust ethical content material, there’s much less uncertainty concerning their political penalties for legislators, and thus much less motivation to be taught from beforehand adopting jurisdictions. Drawing on Berry and Berry’s (2018) unified mannequin of coverage diffusion, the e book additionally lays out motivations (illustration, public opinion, and challenge advocacy) and assets/obstacles (challenge opponents, downside severity, and different state traits) which might be anticipated to have an effect on coverage adoption. Thus, the work is properly grounded in the primary theoretical constructs of coverage diffusion analysis. That stated, the theoretical rationale for some particular person hypotheses just isn’t all the time totally defined. Further theoretical justification would have been useful for supporting a few of them.
4Following his theoretical argument, Cruz-Aceves lays out the rationale behind specializing in three insurance policies: same-sex marriage bans, medical marijuana, and anti-obesity laws. These, he argues, are on a spectrum with respect to morality content material. Similar-sex marriage bans have a robust ethical dimension. Medical marijuana had historically had an ethical dimension, however its financial dimension grew considerably in public debates because the coverage unfold, rendering it a combined coverage. Lastly, anti-obesity insurance policies have a weak ethical dimension, however a lot stronger public well being and financial dimensions.
5Cruz-Aceves is progressive in his strategy to assessing how diffusion patterns range throughout these three insurance policies. The evaluation begins with occasion historical past modeling, which is prevalent in diffusion research, to look at the inner and exterior determinants of adoption for every coverage individually. Nevertheless, the evaluation doesn’t cease there. A two-stage seemingly unrelated regression (SUR) is used to match diffusion results extra instantly, which permits a comparability of the magnitude of hazard ratios for key diffusion variables akin to neighbor adoption and ideological distance from previous adopting states. SUR has been used sparingly in coverage diffusion analysis (e.g., Taylor et al., 2012) and Cruz-Aceves makes use of it to impact.
6Having established each the speculation and analytical approaches, the textual content then strikes to an intensive examination of every particular person coverage case. That is an admittedly tedious a part of the e book, as it’s fairly thorough in its account of descriptive statistics, mannequin constructing, and outcomes for every of the three circumstances. Essentially the most fascinating outcomes, nevertheless, come on the finish with the cross-policy comparability utilizing SUR. The evaluation yields findings that affirm, partly, and disconfirm, partly, the speculation concerning variation in morality content material. For neighbor results, medical marijuana and anti-obesity have the anticipated optimistic impact, however there’s a backlash impact for same-sex marriage bans. In different phrases, neighbor state adoption reduces the chance of ban adoption. This damaging neighbor impact definitely happens in different diffusion research, however it isn’t properly understood within the literature. Cruz-Aceves concludes that this confirms that the motivation to be taught will increase as morality content material decreases, however I might argue that even the damaging impact is doubtlessly studying. As a substitute, studying shifts from damaging to optimistic lesson drawing as morality content material decreases.
7Essentially the most perplexing discovering is that ideological distance will increase the percentages of adopting each medical marijuana and anti-obesity laws. The ideological impact stands in distinction with different analysis exhibiting the anticipated impact of ideological distance from previous adopters lowering the percentages of adopting medical marijuana (Hannah and Mallinson 2018). Utilizing the e book’s framework, which means states are studying from dissimilar jurisdictions on insurance policies with comparatively decrease ethical content material. There may be face validity to this conclusion, at the very least for medical marijuana. Whereas largely liberal states adopted the coverage early on via the poll initiative, the coverage has transitioned into wider adoption by extra conservative states via each the poll and legislatures. Thus, ideological similarity weakened because the coverage subtle and the non-moral dimensions took root.
8One a part of the conclusion that the evaluation can’t disentangle is whether or not it’s really the morality content material that’s having the impact right here or if attributes akin to complexity and salience are actually driving the findings. Granted, the 2 are tightly tangled as robust morality insurance policies are anticipated to be technically easy and extremely salient. Future work ought to attempt to disentangle these completely different coverage attributes in addition to additional measure different dimensions of insurance policies in ways in which transfer past easy typologies. This work by Cruz-Aceves is useful in furthering that effort for morality coverage and providing a method for addressing different coverage dimensions. It is going to be of curiosity to students of coverage diffusion and coverage course of concept. It additionally demonstrates a great instance of a high quality dissertation for graduate college students.