Research highlights

Research within the centre currently focuses on three key areas:

The Aftermath of Brexit

A number of colleagues in the centre are currently examining the changing landscape of British politics in the aftermath of Brexit. Jocelyn Evans, for example, has a longstanding interest in the changing fortunes of the far right in Britain and Europe. Meanwhile, Stuart MacAnulla, Richard Hayton and Victoria Honeyman are all currently undertaking research on the politics of British identity in post-Brexit Britain, while Charles Dannreuther is examining Brexit’s pedagogical implications by casting it as a “teachable moment”. Finally, Jonathan Dean is currently undertaking research on the changing shape of left-wing politics in the UK post-Brexit.

The Politics of Emotion

Staff working in the Centre have a collective interest in the emotional, affective and symbolic dimensions of democratic engagement, issues which have often been side-lined within our discipline. Derek Edyvane, for example, is working on the politics of incivility, developing a political theory of the feelings and emotional orientations of everyday life. Jonathan Dean is interested in the affective and embodied politics of populism, and is currently developing a project on fandom as a distinctive, affectively-charged feature of contemporary political life.

In addition, Cristina Leston-Bandeira, alongside Viktoria Spaiser and Alex Prior, is interested in relationships between parliaments and citizens, with a particular focus on citizens’ connections with, and responses to, parliamentary institutions. Finally, Kris Dunn has a longstanding interest in the origins and consequences of individuals’ political attitudes, behaviours and identities.

The Politics of Knowledge

A number of us working in the centre are interested in the politics of knowledge, broadly conceived. This encompasses the sources of knowledge that underpin political claims and modes of engagement, as well as the ways in which knowledge hierarchies are subject to political debate and contestation. Lata Narayanaswamy, for instance, is working on the politics of knowledge in the context of development and feminist activism (an interest which Jonathan Dean also shares), while Richard Hayton is researching the effect of the impact agenda on British politics scholarship. Finally, Cristina Leston-Bandeira, Alex Prior and Viktoria Spaiser are all interested in the nature and scope of citizen outreach programmes aimed at improving citizen knowledge about parliament.

Funded Research Projects

Cristina Leston-Bandeira’s research has focused on how parliaments engage with the public. Her research has been funded by the ESRC and the Leverhulme trust, most recently on a pilot by the House of Commons to engage the public with the drafting of legislation and the extent to which this enhanced public engagement. She is currently working on the new e-petitions system of the House of Commons, having spent six months with the Petitions team thanks to an Impact Acceleration Account grant. You can find out more about this research from her ResearchGate page.

Jonathan Dean is Principal Investigator on a Leverhulme Research Grant ‘Exploring Left-wing Populism in an Age of Anti-Politics’ (2015-2018), working with Bice Maiguashca (University of Exeter). The project focuses on three key issues: first, it examines new forms of grassroots left politics such as the recent rise of the Labour left under Corbyn and the “Green Surge” within the Green Party. Second, it examines the role that gender, race and class play in shaping these forms of politics. Third, it examines the extent to which the category of “populism” can help us make sense of left-wing politics in contemporary Britain.

Jocelyn Evans is UK Principal Investigator on the Open Research Area (ORA) project, ‘Subnational Context and Radical Right Support in Europe’ (SCoRE), a three-year project to build a comparative multi-level explanation of Radical Right voting in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. The project focuses on more detailed geospatial units to analyse how local socio-economic conditions interact with individual attitudes to drive voting behaviour. He is also Co-Investigator on the ESRC-funded 2017 Northern Ireland General Election Study.

Alex Prior is carrying out a PhD in Political Science, funded by the University of Leeds. His research focuses on political engagement as a dialogue between citizens and political institutions, specifically the UK Parliament. Popular understandings of political engagement – including quantifiers, associations and definitions, and assumptions of its current strength – are of key interest. His research investigates the usefulness of narrative and storytelling in conceptualising politics, as well as encouraging participation. Alex has recently carried out fieldwork while being based at the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) at the House of Commons on a work placement.

Charles Dannreuther is involved in a number of funded research projects. He is Principal Investigator on an ISRF Small Research Grant on “Financialisation Social Investment and Europe’s Social Question”. This project has explored a number of themes, such as wellbeing and mental health interventions, which was addressed at the International conference Centre for Space, Place and Society (CSPS) in Wageningen (28 -30 June 2017). He is also pursuing a project entitled “BREXIT – a teachable moment?”, funded by the University of Leeds’ University Student Education Fellowships scheme. The project will explore how the pursuit of international excellence in research and teaching by UK universities creates a context for UG and PG study that has created a new “pedagogy of the oppressed”. Through a critical engagement with existing practice the aim of the project is to promote practitioner engagement at the module level for pedagogic reasons but also to enable a refocusing of the University to serve its local as well as its international communities.

Chantal Sullivan-Thomsett is carrying out an interdisciplinary project between German (School of Languages, Societies and Cultures) and POLIS with supervisors from both subject areas and funded by the White Rose College of the Arts & Humanities AHRC competition. Her research concentrates on the contemporary German Green party’s engagement, and use of, protest. It poses the question of what happens to party-sanctioned protest as a form of participation once a former protest party has professionalised. Her research aims to answer this question by exploring the Greens from within, using an ethnographic approach to explore the experiences of party activists and grassroots support of party protest action, and evaluate the extent to which party protest can be assessed as having been ‘gentrified’.