Gregory Saxton

  • Ph.D. Candidate, Research Assistant
  • Political Science
1606 Patterson Office Tower
Other Affiliations:
  • American Political Science Association
  • Midwest Political Science Association
  • Southern Political Science Association
Research Interests:
Office Hours (Fall 2017): By appointment

PhD in Political Science, University of Kentucky (degree expected May 2018)
Master of Arts in Political Science, University of Cincinnati (2014)
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (Honors), University of Cincinnati (2012)


Gregory Saxton is Ph.D. candidate and research/teaching assistant in the political science department.  His research and teaching interests are in the fields of Comparative Politics and Latin American Politics, and he has recently conducted fieldwork in Argentina. Gregory teaches PS210: Introduction to Comparative Politics and PS372: Introduction to Political Analysis (Research Methods and Design).  Gregory's research investigates how economic inequality and the political inclusion of traditionally marginalized groups shapes citizens' evaluations of the political system. His dissertation, which he plans to defend in April 2018, asks two main questions: Who gets meaningful representation in a context of inequality; and How does economic inequality shape satisfaction of democracy? To answer these questions, he relies on a mixed-methods approach that combines large-N cross-national survey data, experimental data, and qualitative data from open-ended surveys and elite interviews.

Building on his dissertation research, Gregory, along with Dr. Tiffany D. Barnes, investigates how the presence of working class politicians in office affects citizens' feelings about representation.  In particular, they find that citizens are more satisfied with the representation they receive from political parties and legislatures when a greater percentage of legislators come from from blue-collar, working class backgrounds.  Gregory and Dr. Barnes are also working on a series of survey experiments that investigate how blue-collar politicians and pro-working class policies affect citizens' satisfaction with representation.

In another related research project, Gregory, along with Dr. Tiffany D. Barnes and Dr. Emily Beaulieu use survey experiments to investigate how perceptions of corruption shape individuals' evaluations of the political system.  This project consists of three papers, one of which is currently forthcoming at Governance, one which has been conditionally accepted pending minor revisions at Politics, Groups, and Identities, and a final working paper which unpacks the effect of political ideology on voters' responses to scandals. 

Before coming to the University of Kentucky, Gregory completed his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Cincinnati.  His M.A. research focused on the political and social consequences of austerity policies in the European Union. For more information on Gregory's research and teaching interests, please visit his personal webpage.

Selected Publications: 

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Barnes, Tiffany D., Emily Beaulieu, and Gregory W. Saxton. Forthcoming. "Restoring Trust in the Police: Why Female Officers Reduce Suspicions of Corruption." Governance. (download file)

Abstract: Recent studies have shown a clear link between women in government and reduced concerns about corruption. Until now, it has remained unclear what underlying attitudes about women explain the perception that they will reduce corruption. Using a survey question about adding women to a police force, with an embedded experimental treatment, we examine three distinct stereotypes that might explain the power of women to reduce concerns about corruption: gender stereotypes of women as more ethical and honest; the perception of women as political outsiders; and beliefs that women are generally more risk-averse. We find that people do perceive women as more effective at combating corruption, and these perceptions are greatly enhanced when information about women’s outsider status and risk aversion is provided.


Barnes, Tiffany D., Emily Beaulieu, and Gregory W. Saxton. Conditional Accept with Minor Revisions. "Sex and Corruption: How Sexism Shapes Voters' Reactons to Scandal." Poilitics, Groups, and Identities. (download file).

Abstract: Conventional wisdom suggests that voters rarely punish politicians for involvement in sex scandals. Yet, we argue that some voters are likely to hold politicians accountable for their moral transgressions. We theorize that both hostile and benevolent sexists are more likely than non-sexists to punish women for involvement in a sex scandal—but each for different reasons. We posit that women politicians involved in sex scandals activate traditional gender norms and challenge men’s dominant position in society, thus provoking hostile sexists to punish female politicians more severely than men. Benevolent sexists are likely to punish women who fail to comply with stereotypical expectations of being pure and moral, and the men who fail to safeguard those virtues. To test our theory, we rely on a survey experiment that manipulates politician sex and scandal type. We find strong support for our expectations, indicating that sexism continues to structure evaluations of female politicians and shapes voter reactions to political scandals.


Working Papers

"Distributive Unfairness and Satisfaction with Democracy: Linking Inequality, Fairness Perceptions, and Political Support in Latin America." (download file)

Abstract: How does economic inequality affect political support in democracies? Recent research shows that high levels of inequality are associated with low levels of support for and satisfaction with democracy, yet our understanding of this relationship remains incomplete. I argue that people become politically dissatisfied when they view inequality through a lens of distributive unfairness— i.e., unfair outcomes. Moreover, the extent to which perceptions of distributive unfairness affect political support varies individually by political ideology, and with the procedural fairness of the democratic system. By testing the causal mechanism linking inequality to political support, and by applying psychological theories of social justice to the study of political support, my research offers important contributions to the existing literature. In this paper, which synthesizes two empirical chapters from my dissertation, I first use cross-national survey data from 18 Latin American countries to show that citizens are, on average, less satisfied with democracy when they perceive their country’s income distribution as unfair. Yet, being on the right of the political spectrum, as well as living in a country that effectively controls corruption, ameliorates the negative influence of perceived distributive unfairness. Second, given that evaluations of democracy are influenced by a number of individual-level and contextual factors, I rely on a series of survey experiments to isolate the causal effects of inequality and fairness perceptions on political support. In this paper, I present the results of the first survey experiment, which shows that economic inequality reduces trust in government when inequality is framed in terms of distributive unfairness. As with the results from the cross-national analysis, however, my experiment shows that this relationship is conditioned by individuals’ political ideology.

"Class and Unequal Representation in Latin America: Linking Descriptive and Symbolic Representation" (with Tiffany D. Barnes). (download file)

Abstract: How does the near-exclusion of working class citizens from government influence citizens’ perceptions of representation? We argue that when groups of people are continually denied access to representation, citizens are unlikely to believe that their interests are represented by political parties or by parliament. By contrast, more inclusive institutions that incorporate members of the working class foster support for representative bodies, particularly among working class citizens and among citizens with the resources and interests to monitor government. Using a multilevel analysis of 18 Latin American countries—a region plagued by a crisis of representation—we show greater inclusion of the working class is associated with stronger attachments to agents of representation and better evaluations of legislative performance. These findings have implications for strengthening democracy in Latin America, as they indicate that more diverse governments may be key to deepening citizens’ attachments to representative bodies and mitigating the crisis of representation.

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