political science

Compromise with Character: An Integrated Framework to Assess the Moral Quality of Political Compromises

Dr Patrick Overeem


The aim of this project is to develop an integrated ethical framework for the assessment of the moral quality of political compromises. Such a framework is needed, because in times of polarization and populism, political compromises are particularly vital, but also increasingly unpopular and difficult to achieve. While academic ethicists have often abstract debates about the nature and impact of (hypothetical) compromises, media and citizens criticize the very game of striking political compromises, making politicians even more are embarrassed to admit them. Thus, we seem to have difficulties understanding what achieving a good compromise could be like.

Read More

Bringing labour back In: class antagonism, labour agency and Britain’s active labour market reforms

Dr Jay Wiggan


Since the 1980s Britain has constructed a ‘work first activation state’. Through various employment programmes, curtailment of benefit entitlement, strengthening of sanctions and work related activity attached to (non-employed) working-age benefits the state has cajoled claimants into employment as quickly as possible. The study draws on an innovative political theory rarely utilised in social policy, Autonomist Marxism, to challenge existing top down accounts of Britain’s transformation of social security and employment policy. These typically ground explanations in electoral positioning (tough on welfare), ideas (neo-liberalism) or functionalist logic (necessary for UK growth model). In contrast here we focus attention on how labour market ‘activation’ reforms are rooted in antagonistic class relations through the novel ‘bottom up’ autonomist thesis that positions labour as the motor of change and policy innovation.

Read More

Posthuman Security: An Integrated Ethical Framework

Dr Audra Mitchell


The purpose of this project is to develop a framework that will enable security actors to respond to the ethical challenges raised by nonhumans in situations such as wars and disasters. In existing security discourses, human beings are framed as the only relevant actors, in both ethical and pragmatic terms. Yet security situations are shaped by a range of nonhumans that Bruno Latour terms ‘actants’: beings that can collectively affect change in the world without possessing agency, subjectivity, or intentionality.

Read More

Political Entrepreneurs and Civil Wars

Professor Andrea Ruggeri


Are some rebels more important than others in civil wars? While the existing literature on civil wars has developed theories and provided empirical evidence based either on structural features of society or individual preferences and strategies, we lack a micro-level analysis, where some rebels, namely political entrepreneurs, are distinguished from the “average rebel”. This may be surprising since studies on collective action and common sense tell us tbat not all actors are equal. Some actors and not others are the ones to encourage, organize and lead mobilization. The following research project aims to explore the micro-level of conflict, focusing on the role of political entrepreneurs in civil wars.

Read More