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When Domestic Politics and International Relations Intermesh: Subordinated Publics' Factional Support Within Layered Power Structures


  • Authors' Note: This research was presented at the 2011 annual scientific meeting of the International Society for Political Psychology, Istanbul. We thank Joseph R. de Rivera, Diala Hawi, Colin W. Leach, Reem Saab, and Jennifer Sterling-Folker for their comments on previous drafts of the paper. This research received funding from Harvard University.


Using social dominance theory and structural balance theory to analyze the political and psychological perspectives of subordinated peoples, we argue that struggles between dominant and subordinated polities are embedded in layered power structures. In such contexts, it is important to examine publics' political desires and interests in relation to their political elites' positions or choices of political tactics and allegiances. To illustrate these arguments, we used random urban samples surveyed in March 2010 to examine Lebanese and Syrian citizens' favorability toward their governments and Hezbollah (a quasi-government faction with significant relations to the governments of Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and the United States). As theorized, citizens' favorability depended on (i) how much they view their government as providing services for them, (ii) opposition to general group dominance, (iii) opposition to US oppression, and (iv) their governments' alignments vis-à-vis the US. Implications for political psychology and international relations theory are discussed.