Our ethos

Our approach to the study of democratic engagement has a distinctive ethos, resting on four pillars:

  • We are integrative in that we reject the tendency to treat formal and informal forms of democratic engagement in isolation from each other. We take an expansive view of democratic politics that maps points of convergence and divergence between different sites, modes and channels of democratic engagement.
  • We are outward facing by grounding our academic research in the building of collaborations between academics and external partners, including politicians, civil servants, political parties and third sector organisations.
  • We are pluralist in our theoretical and methodological perspective. We believe that challenges and opportunities for democratic politics are best understood via a problem-driven approach that reaches across disciplinary boundaries and scholarly traditions. Our work combines qualitative, quantitative and theoretical methodologies, and draws on theories, concepts and approaches from diverse fields such as political science, political theory, sociology, communication, media studies, computer science and geography.
  • We are rigorous in that in place of glib normative assertions about the health of democratic politics, we seek balance and even-handedness in the analysis of contemporary democratic life. Research at the Centre combines empirical and normative analysis; encourages reflexivity about the relationship between its normative and empirical dimensions; and integrates analytical, theoretical and normative dimensions of our research in a systematic manner.