My research philosophy is built upon three observations:
First, political science has become unduly fragmented into increasingly narrow areas of specialization. By contrast, I believe that we need to restore a broad vision which reintegrates several over-lapping sub-fields, techniques, and theoretical approaches. Hence my work in comparative politics covers gender politics, elections and public opinion, and political communications. Each of these are commonly regarded in the profession as distinct areas of political science but they are also raise complimentary concerns. Our work is enriched by synthesizing the insights of different disciplines, societies, and sub-fields.
Second, political science is also divided into several types of normative and empirical analysis. Again these need to be brought together, to counterbalance their characteristic strengths and weaknesses. My general approach is 'large-N' comparative, using cross-national and time series data from countries around the world, supplemented by qualitative case studies. I also often use multilevel analysis, drawing upon survey data drawn from representative samples of the general population but seeking to understand individual attitudes and behavior within a broader institutional context.
Lastly, the profession of political science is commonly 'talking to itself'. Instead, my focus has sought to be problem oriented, bringing evidence-based data-driven empirical analysis to address contemporary policy-relevant concerns and publishing to communicate with a broad international readership. Contemporary issues facing the world - such as women's empowerment and gender equality in public life, civic engagement and support for democracy, cultural change in the Muslim world, globalization and political communications, religion and secularization, the effectiveness of democratic governance, -- are just too important to leave exclusively to scholarly debates in journals within the academy. At the same time, academics are not (primarily) journalists, pundits and policy-makers; research in comparative politics should confront the conventional wisdom about these issues by rigorous scientific scrutiny based on developing original theories and solid empirical analysis of the available evidence.
One of my primary interests has always been in gender politics, including issues of political representation and the empowerment of women. Successive studies have explored the barriers and opportunities which women and men candidates face when seeking political careers, including over-arching institutional rules set by electoral systems and quotas, the demand-side attitudes of the selectors, and the supply-side ambitions and motivations of candidates. This work generated a series of books, for example Politics and Sexual Equality (1986), Gender and Party Politics, 1993, edited with Joni Lovenduski), Political Recruitment (1995), and Rising Tide (2003, with Ron Inglehart). Recent consultancy research has expanded the focus to consider these issues in the context of the OSCE region and UNDP Asia-Pacific.
Elections and Public Opinion
Another research stream has flowed from studying electoral systems, voting behavior, and public opinion. My early work on these topics focused upon Britain, the United States, and Western Europe, before expanding to understand culture worldwide. Studies examined the long-term and short-term dynamics of voting choice and political participation, the role of religion in politics, confidence and trust in government, support for the radical right, cultural and value change, attitudes towards democracy, and the interaction of voting behavior within the context of different electoral systems. Books include, among others, Critical Citizens (1998), Democratic Phoenix (2002), Electoral Engineering (2004), Radical Right (2005), and Sacred and Secular (2004).
Lastly, these concerns raised related issues of political communications, not least whether civic engagement has been damaged by political coverage in the news media, how new information and communication technologies are transforming societies, and how the roles of journalists contribute towards democracy. This has also generated several books, including A Virtuous Circle (2000), Digital Divide (2001), and Cosmopolitan Communications (2009).
For further information, you can find links here to my publications, shared data-sets, current research projects, and public talks.