Dr. Lawrence McKay is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow based in the Department of Politics and International Relations (PAIR). His three-year project, running between 2022 and 2025, is titled 'The Revival of the Urban-Rural Divide in Western Europe: A comparative study of the geography of discontent and political representation'. The project will draw together existing and original data from surveys and elections to produce a picture of Europe's evolving political divisions.
- Political geography: how attitudes and behaviours are shaped by place
- The urban-rural divide
- Political trust
- British politics
- European politics
Lawrence's research specialism began with his ESRC-funded PhD (2016-2020) at the University of Manchester, which studies why people in Britain often feel like their local communities are under-represented by their MPs and central government. Between August 2020 and September 2022, Lawrence worked as a Research Fellow for TrustGov, an ESRC-funded project which explores political trust around the world, as the project lead on the geography of trust. His research, using secondary data and original surveys, highlights divides in trust between urban and rural areas and a perception of bias towards urban centres. He has published in journals on the topics of why economically ‘left-behind’ communities distrust government, and the thorny politics of PM Boris Johnson's "levelling-up" agenda.
In October 2022, Lawrence started a prestigious British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship based at the University to continue his research agenda, titled 'The Revival of the Urban-Rural Divide in Western Europe'.
As well as political geography, he is interested in the politics of trust, in British and European Politics, and the politics of Covid-19. He has also written on political knowledge and engagement for prominent media outlets, such as the Guardian, and have been involved in the Hansard Society’s annual Audit of Political Engagement report.
Lawrence has engaged in the academic community through his role on the prize-winning Political Studies Early Career Network (2020-2022), which represents more than 600 ECR members of the PSA. The ECN publicised ECR issues and under his leadership, organised successful events such as a large online conference in 2020 and 2021.
Before starting his PhD, he completed a BA in History (2012-15) and an MRes in Politics (2015-16) at the University of Exeter.
- British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (2022)