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The University of Southampton
Politics and International RelationsPart of Economic, Social and Political Science

Research Group: Public Policy

Currently Active: 

The public policy research group has diverse interests covering British government and politics, Western Europe - Denmark, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and the EU – and Westminster governments - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Pacific states. We cover also a variety of substantive policies – administrative reform, foreign aid, children’s rights, gender, obesity.

But the distinguishing characteristics of the group are its shared interest in:

  1. Interpretive theory and methods – e.g. ethnographic fieldwork, blurring genres, art of comparison
  2. Democratic governance – e.g. democracy in small states, anti-politics, citizen’s  assemblies
  3. Bottom-up policy making – e.g. decentred narratives of public policy, peoples’ panels
  4. Comparison – e.g. the comparative study of: cabinet government, the media; policy blunders.

Our aim is for the Centre for Political Ethnography to be the premier centre in the UK known for its use of narrative policy analysis.

John Boswell

Research Profile 

My research spans three main areas: Deliberative Democracy focused especially on real-world practices of debate across political settings; Public Health Policymaking addressing topics such as obesity prevention, evidence-based policymaking in public health, preventative health interventions and health spending prioritization; and Interpretive Research Methods. I recently published my first book, The Real War on Obesity (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).

Current Projects

Preventative health agencies (with Paul Cairney, Stirling)

The NHS Citizen initiative (with Graham Smith, Westminster and Rikki Deane, LSE)

The lived experience of obesity prevention policies (with Corinna Hawkes and Sharon Noonan-Gunning, City University)

 PhD supervision interests

Democratic governance; democratic theory; citizen engagement; policymaking in health and social care; expertise and advocacy in the policy process.

Jack Corbett

Research Profile

My research spans three main areas: 1) Comparative Politics and Small States has been my primary area of empirical research. I have authored numerous articles and a monograph Being Political Leadership and Democracy in the Pacific Islands (2015) on this topic. I am also on the editorial board of the recently established journal Small States and Territories; 2) Democratic Governance encompasses a range of research interests, including anti-politics, institutional memory, and foreign aid. I have published research articles on each and have recently authored the monograph Australia’s Foreign Aid Dilemma: Humanitarian Aspirations Confront Democratic Legitimacy (2017). I also co-edit (with Matt Wood, Sheffield) the Routledge book series Anti-Politics and Democratic Crisis; 3) an interest in Interpretive Research Methods and in particular comparative interpretive research ties the two empirical strands of my research agenda together. I have published several methods orientated articles on this topic and am the co-convener (with R.A.W. Rhodes, Southampton) of the Political Studies Association Research Group on Interpretive Political Science. I currently hold honorary appointments at the Australian National University (2016-2020) and Griffith University (2016-2018), and was a visiting fellow at the University of Sheffield’s Sir Bernard Crick Centre (2015).

Current Projects

I am currently writing Democracy in Small States: Why It Can Persist Against All Odds with Wouter Veenendaal (Leiden) and The Art of Comparison with R.A.W Rhodes and John Boswell (Southampton). I hold research grants from: 1) the Australian Research Council on the participation of small states in international organizations with Patrick Weller and Yi-Chong Xu (Griffith); 2) the Developmental Leadership Program on women’s political leadership in the Pacific with Ceridwen Spark (RMIT) and John Cox (Latrobe); and the Australia and New Zealand School of Government on institutional memory with Dennis Grube (Cambridge), Heather Lovell (Tasmania) and Rodney Scott (UNSW).

PhD supervision interests

The politics of small states;

Democratic governance; and

Any projects that use interpretive methods

Ingi Iusmen

Research Profile

My research focuses on two strands of inquiry. The first strand tackles key questions about the European policy process, especially as it relates to human rights protection, minority protection and the provision of children’s rights at EU and national levels. The second strand explores the EU’s role in promoting democratic standards and norms to Central and Eastern Europe, particularly with respect to rule of law and anti-corruption measures. I have published in leading journals such as the Journal of Common Market Studies, International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, Comparative European Politics, the Journal of European Public Policy, the British Journal of Politics and International Relations or West European Politics. My books include Children’s Rights, Eastern Enlargement and the EU Human Rights Regime (Manchester University Press, 2014) and The EU as a Children’s Rights Actor: Law, Policy and Structural Dimensions (with Helen Stalford, Budrich Academic Publishers, 2016).

Current Projects

Governing human rights in times of crisis: the case of the Roma

EU asylum policy, refugee crisis and protection of children rights

EU anti-corruption policies

Areas of interest for PhD supervision

EU politics and public policy, EU human rights, Central and Eastern Europe, protection of children’s rights, minority protection

Will Jennings

Research profile

My research interests are wide-ranging in the fields of public policy and political behaviour, including agenda-setting, public opinion, electoral behaviour, and policy disasters. As such I am interested in questions such as how issues get onto the policy agenda, how voters form their preferences over time (and how polls do or don’t line up with the eventual outcome as election day approaches), how voters judge the competence of parties, and why major projects and sports events go over budget so often. My work has been published in a wide range of journals, including the American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, Public Opinion Quarterly, European Journal of Political Research, Comparative Political Studies, Political Science and Research Methods, and Governance. I was a member of the independent inquiry instigated by the British Polling Council and Market Research Society to investigate the performance of the pre-election polls at the 2015 general election.

Current projects

The Politics of Competence (with Jane Green)

The UK Policy Agendas Project (with Shaun Bevan)

The Rise of Anti-Politics in Britain (with Nick Clarke, Gerry Stoker and Jonathan Moss)

Comparative Analysis of Policy Blunders (with Martin Lodge and Matt Ryan)

A Comparative Study of News Influence on Party Support (with Gunnar Thesen, Christoffer Green-Pedersen, Peter Mortensen, Rens Vliegenthart and Stefaan Walgrave)

The Bifurcation of Politics (with Gerry Stoker)

Citizens’ Assemblies (with Matthew Flinders, Alan Renwick and Graham Smith).

PhD supervision interests

Agenda-setting, anti-politics, political participation, policy disasters and mega-projects, electoral behaviour, public opinion.

Rod Rhodes

Research profile

My research interests encompass executive studies, especially cabinet studies and court politics; elite ethnography; network governance; comparative government, especially administrative reform in West Europe and Westminster governments; and interpretive theory. My recent publications include: R. A. W. Rhodes, Networks, Governance and the Differentiated Polity. Selected Essays. Volume I; and Interpretive Political Science. Selected Essays. Volume II (Oxford University Press). I am best known for Everyday Life in British Government (Oxford University Press, paperback edition 2015); and Understanding Governance (McGraw Hill 1997, reprinted six times). I am Visiting Professor, Utrecht School of Governance, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands; and Adjunct Professor, Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia. I am a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and Britain.

Current research

Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK) funded project on ‘Blurring Genres Network: Recovering the Humanities for Political Science and Area Studies’.

Australian Research Council funded project on ‘Comparative Cabinets: How does Collective Decision-making Work?’

Australia and New Zealand School of Government funded project on ‘Ministers and their Courts’.  

PhD supervision

Any project involving ethnographic fieldwork; public administration in Australia, Britain and Turkey; core executive studies; and interpretive theory.

Matt Ryan

The public policy research group has diverse interests covering British government and politics, Western Europe - Denmark, The Netherlands, Switzerland, and the EU – and Westminster governments - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Pacific states. We cover also a variety of substantive policies – administrative reform, foreign aid, children’s rights, gender, obesity.

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