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Web Science Institute
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Dr Matthew Ryan 

Policy Director

Dr Matthew Ryan's photo

Matthew Ryan is Policy Director for the Web Science Institute and 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 began doctoral research as a Social Sciences PhD Fellow in 2009. I joined PAIR staff in September 2012. My teaching reflects my research interests, crossing the boundaries between political theory and comparative politics, with a strong focus on innovative research methods. I am co-director of the Centre for Democratic Futures and since January 2020 I have been UKRI Future Leader Fellow leading the Rebooting Democracy project.


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

Research interests

I am 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 and I have worked with various government departments and agencies in the UK and abroad, local councils and associations, and networks of public participation practitioners. My 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, Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, and Revista Internacional de Sociologia, as well is in book chapters with Palgrave, Policy Press, Edward Elgar and ECPR Press (visit the publications tab on this page for more information).

Current projects

  • Calibrating and Piloting a Toolkit of Indicators for Measuring Regional Policies on Access to Medicines in
    South America (with Pia Riggirozzi and Ana Amaya)
  • Comparative analysis of Democratic innovation (with
  • Exploring the Philosophy of Comparative Method.
  • Southampton People’s Panel, Open Data and Citizen Science (With Southampton City Council and the
    Web Sciences Institute)
  • Poverty in the South (With John Boswell, John Denham, Anna Killick, Beata Rek, Jamie Furlong, Jesse Shipp
    and Patricia Ndugga)
  • The Fighting Citizen (With Max Halupka and Mike Jensen)
  • Rebooting Democracy: Democratic Innovation for the Information Age

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Book Chapters


Dr Matthew Ryan
Web Science Institute
Building 32, Room 3041, Level 3
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
Hampshire, SO17 1BJ
United Kingdom

Room Number : 58/3087

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