Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chapter 7 done, but…

I’ve just recently been putting the finishing touches to a first draft of the seventh chapter in my PhD (a preposterous 17,500 words). I think it does as much as can be done on the subject given the resources and time available to me, and considering I am in the UK – topic was “Special Interests, Congress & US Foreign Policy”.

While typing up over the last couple of days, I’ve come up with a study that I would really like to do, and one I think would be beneficial to anyone studying the effects of domestic actors on US foreign policy. The only problem is, it would be impossible to do.

The study would take the form of a rather simple questionnaire about what and who influences Congressmen, Senators, and other government employees. So, for example, a series of questions might look like this (only better written):

  1. Are you influenced by the media?
  2. If yes, how (tick all that apply)…
    • Up-To-Date News
    • Information
    • Policy Proposals
    • Issue Awareness
  3. How do special interests influence your decisions?
    • Agenda
    • Information
    • Issue Awareness
    • Electoral Concerns
    • Policy Proposals

The use of multiple-choice is to keep things simple and easy, which would make it more likely that they’d have the time to complete it. But, of course, without funds and access, no study like this could ever happen. The questionnaires would be anonymous, listing only the person’s job (Congressman, Senator, Chief of Staff, etc.). Then the results could be tallied, follow-up interviews conducted where possible/willing and a proper study of domestic sources of US foreign policy could be undertaken, and also be more-or-less accurate.

It’s not an idea that I’ve spent much time thinking about, but I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d type this up. The questionnaire would need a lot of work, and a lot more questions before it could possibly be useful. Follow-up interviews with a broad selection of respondents would also help add depth and explain some answers and/or patterns that might become discernible.

If only funding were available…