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Economic, Social and Political Sciences
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Dr Matthew Ryan PhD, MSc, BSc

UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, Associate Professor in Governance and Public Policy, Co-Director of the Centre for Democratic Futures, Policy Director at the Web Science Institute

Dr Matthew Ryan's photo

Matthew Ryan is Associate Professor in Governance and Public Policy.

My research on democratic innovations tries to figure out how people can have control over the decisions that affect their lives.

I first came to Southampton in 2008 and undertook doctoral research as a Social Sciences PhD Fellow between 2009 and 2015. My research crosses several disciplinary boundaries with a focus on innovative research methods. I am Co-Director of the Centre for Democratic Futures, a collective dedicated to analysing, imagining, sustaining, augmenting, and expanding Democracy. Since January 2021 I have been Policy Director at the Web Science Institute an established world-leading institute dedicated to bringing socio-technical expertise to explore the development of the Web. Since January 2020 I have been a UKRI Future Leader Fellow leading the Rebooting Democracy project which aims to understand which innovations in public participation restore and sustain democracy.


PhD Politics (Southampton)
MSc Citizenship and Democracy (Southampton)
BSc Government and Public Policy (Cork)

Research interests

My research is primarily motivated by a desire to understand how people can have more power over important decisions affecting their lives. My research asks how and when citizens can, should, and will take part in collective decisions. I am particularly interested in citizen participation in implementation and monitoring of political decisions, as well as in policy formulation. This has led me to further inquire as to what methods of analysis and forms of expertise best provide answers to wicked collective problems, and how we can redesign institutions to improve our experience and understanding of politics. The majority of my work engages directly in collaboration with stakeholders from government and civil society. I have worked with various government departments and agencies in the UK and abroad, and several non-governmental organisations and networks of public participation practitioners.

My Monograph Why Citizen Participation Succeeds or Fails was published in 2021 with Bristol University Press. My other peer-reviewed publications can be found in journals such as European Journal of Political Research, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Politics, PS: Political Science and Politics, Local Government Studies, Political Studies Review, Globalizations, International Journal of the Commons, Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, Representation, Revista Internacional de Sociologia, and Journal of Public Deliberation as well is in book chapters with Oxford University Press, Palgrave, Policy Press, Edward Elgar, and ECPR Press (visit the publications tab on this page for more information).

Current Major Projects

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Book Chapters


I have supervised 4 PhD students to completion and am currently supervising 5 PhD students on PhD programmes in Politics and Web Science. I am open to hearing proposals from prospective PhD candidates whose projects align with my research interests.

Dr Matthew Ryan
Reception Building 58 University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number : 58/3087

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