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Centre for Risk Research
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Professor Will Jennings 

Deputy Head of School, Research and Enterprise, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy

Professor Will Jennings's photo

Will Jennings is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Southampton.

As a professor in the Department of Politics & International Relations, my research is concerned with questions relating to public policy and political behaviour – such as how issues get onto the policy agenda, how people form their vote 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.

Previously I was a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Research Fellow at the University of Manchester. I completed my doctorate at the University of Oxford in 2004. My research is concerned with questions relating to public policy and political behaviour. I have written extensively on agenda-setting, public opinion, electoral behaviour, political parties, and the governance of mega-projects and mega-events. I am a methodological pluralist, using both quantitative and qualitative methods, but specialise in time series analysis.

I am currently engaged in a number of on-going research projects and collaborations. These include a comparative study of polls and the vote in more than fifty countries (with Christopher Wlezien, University of Texas at Austin), research investigating how voters evaluate the competence of political parties and how this impacts on vote choice (with Jane Green, University of Manchester) and cross-national analysis of policy blunders (with Martin Lodge, London School of Economics and Political Science). I also have recently been working on the rise of anti-politics and trends in public discontent with politicians (with Nick Clarke and Gerry Stoker, University of Southampton and Jonathan Moss, University of Sussex), and Britain’s new geographical political divides (also with Gerry Stoker) – research that has led to founding of a think tank, The Centre for Towns, with Ian Warren and Lisa Nandy MP. In a collaboration with Alan Renwick (UCL), Graham Smith (Westminster), Matthew Flinders (University of Sheffield), and others, I have recently been involved in projects organising citizens' assemblies on the topics of Brexit and devolution. Currently I am carrying out research on agenda-setting both in relation to the media (in a project with Gunnar Thesen, University of Stavanger, Christoffer Green-Pedersen and Peter Bjerre Mortensen, Aarhus University, Rens Vliegenthart, University of Amsterdam, and Stefaan Walgrave, University of Antwerp), protest (with Clare Saunders, University of Exeter), and public opinion (with Shaun Bevan, University of Edinburgh).

I am Co-Director of the UK Policy Agendas Project, and a member of the Comparative Agendas Project research network. 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. I was a data analyst for Sky News’ election night coverage of the 2017 general election (and previously was a member of the BBC election analysis team for the 2010 general election).

I am a Trustee of the UK Political Studies Association and Chair of its Research and Impact Sub-Committee. I also am a Research Associate at the Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation at the London School of Economics and Political Science, a member of the Centre for Risk Research at the University of Southampton, and an Associate Member of the Democracy & Elections Group at the University of Manchester. I sit on the editorial boards of the British Journal of Political Science, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Studies, Political Studies Review, Journal of European Public Policy, European Political Science and Public Administration.

My research has been published in journals including the American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, European Journal of Political Research, Public Opinion Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Political Science and Research Methods, Governance, Public Administration, Political Studies, Journal of European Public Policy, Electoral Studies, Party Politics, Political Geography, British Journal of Criminology, Social Forces, Contemporary British History and the Political Quarterly in addition to numerous chapters published in edited volumes. Olympic Risks, my book about the governance of the Olympic Games and the Olympic movement, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012. Policy Agendas in British Politics (co-authored with Peter John, Anthony Bertelli and Shaun Bevan) was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013. My book with Jane Green, The Politics of Competence: Parties, Public Opinion and Voters was published by Cambridge University Press in 2017. My book with Nick Clarke, Gerry Stoker and Jonathan Moss, The Good Politician (also with Cambridge University Press) is published in 2018.



Research interests

Research interests:

  • Public policy
  • Executive government.
  • Public opinion.
  • Comparative and British politics.
  • Political behaviour.
  • Risk governance in mega-projects and mega-events.
  • Time series analysis

Current research projects:

  • The Politics of Competence (with Jane Green).
  • The UK Policy Agendas Project (with Shaun Bevan).
  • The Comparative Timeline of Elections (with Chris Wlezien).
  • Protest and Media Agendas (with Clare Saunders)
  • The Polling Observatory (with Rob Ford and Mark Pickup)
  • The Rise of Anti-Politics in Britain (with Nick Clarke, Jonathan Moss and Gerry Stoker)
  • Comparative Analysis of Policy Blunders (with Martin Lodge)
  • The Bifurcation of Politics (with Gerry Stoker)
  • Citizens Assemblies (with Matt Flinders, Alan Renwick and Graham Smith) 

Research project(s)

Popular understandings of politics in Britain, 1937-2014

  • Deputy Head of School, Research and Enterprise
  • Curator, @sotonpolitics, Politics and International Relations Twitter feed
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Book Chapters



Working Papers

  • Crises of the 21st Century [PAIR1007]
  • Partisans, Public Opinion and Elections: Understanding the Political Mind [PAIR2018/3027]
  • MSc Supervision
  • PhD Supervision
Professor Will Jennings
Southampton Business School, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK.

Room Number: 58/3067

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