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DPE Tuesday Talk Series: “The Modifiable Areal Unit Problem in Political Science”

The Division of Politics and Economics invites the CGU community to attend this week’s Tuesday Talk featuring, Dong Wook Lee, assistant professor of political science at Adelphi University.

Dong Wook Lee (CGU Alumni, Received a PhD in Political Science, 2016) is assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Adelphi University (Garden City, New York). His research areas are the political geography of inequality, measurement, and redistributive politics.

Talk Title: The Modifiable Areal Unit Problem in Political Science

Geography is now a focus of research in many areas of scholarship in every subdiscipline of political science. Building upon the widespread availability of geospatial data, improvements in mapping software, and innovations in spatial statistics, political scientists are now taking geography seriously. As we adopt the tools of geographers, so too must we consider the methodological challenges they have identified. Dr. Lee’s study (co-authored with Dr. Melissa Rogers and Dr. Hillel Soifer) focuses on one such issue, the modified areal unit problem (MAUP)—the idea that the scale and zoning of our geographic units shape the empirical results we attain. Dr. Lee will show that the impact of this problem is potentially widespread in political science scholarship, and explore its implications through the replication of prominent recent articles in comparative politics, conflict studies, and American politics with a different operationalization of key spatial aggregate variables. He finds that changes in the scale or the zoning of the unit of those variables to alternative specifications entirely consistent with the theories in these papers can significantly alter empirical results. Building on these findings, he offers a range of options for scholars to assess sensitivity in their data and to ameliorate concerns related to the MAUP.

To attend, please use this Zoom link or Meeting ID: 960 1848 8587.