My work focuses on classic topics in the study of democratic politics: political parties, social organizations, group identities, and political communication. I am interested in how political actors talk about groups and group conflict, and the role they play in drawing (or blurring) social group boundaries. My methodological approach is macro-historical and pluralistic; I look for patterns across different periods and country cases, and draw on a mixed-methods toolkit to understand what I see.
In my book project, Identity politics, old and new: Party-building in the long twentieth century, I explore how and why political outsiders use appeals to social groups to gain a foothold in party competition. In this project, I develop a new framework for differentiating between types of group appeals, explore how parties' electoral strategies are related to stages of party development, and, finally, theorize the structural and political conditions under which new parties adopt differing styles of "identity politics." To test these theories, I draw upon a mixed-methods study of socialist and fascist parties in Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands, combining qualitative case studies with quantitative text analysis. As a postdoctoral fellow, I am pursuing publication of various chapters as journal articles while also expanding the project forward in time, incorporating cases of Green and far right party-building.
A keystone of my doctoral work was the collection of an exciting new dataset: a large corpus of British election addresses (candidate-level campaign speeches) from the interwar period. In my dissertation, I used these data to explore the evolution of the British Labour Party’s strategy throughout its founding decades. My ongoing work makes use of the geographic and temporal structure of this data to study the interactive dynamics of group representation – how parties’ local campaigns respond to each other over time.
Beyond this work, I am involved in other projects of historical text digitization as well as a collaborative project on the ‘crisis of contemporary political establishments’ with former Harvard colleagues. In my previous life as a scholar of Canadian political behaviour, I co-authored two articles now published in the Canadian Journal of Political Science. The first article looks at the trade-offs of using different survey modes for the Canadian Election Study, while the second measures the effect of local candidates on Canadian voters’ choices in federal elections.