My research has focused on three interconnected issues: technocratic attitudes, political distrust and representation, with the aim of better understanding how citizens think about politics, how they make political decisions and what are the potential challenges to the stability of democratic systems. My new research project Varieties of Expertise (VAR-EXP, 2022-2027) studies citizen attitudes towards experts and their assessment of the uses of expertise in democratic politics. More information and findings to follow.
Varieties of Expertise (SNSF Eccellenza Professorial Fellowship 2022-2027)
Technocratic Politics and Attitudes towards Experts
Democratic governments around the world are forced to deal with an increasing need for expertise and technocrats for effective governance, while at the same time remaining committed to and representative of the citizens who voted for them. The European crisis brought this uneasy relationship to the forefront of democratic politics, with multiple appointments of technocratic ministers and governments across European states. But how can we understand technocracy and the political power of experts within democratic political systems? This research project focuses on a series of questions surrounding the role of experts: What are citizens’ attitudes towards independent experts? How much ‘technocracy’ is entailed in our democracies? What are the consequences of technocratic decision-making? And at what point does the power of technocrats delegitimise the political system and become a serious challenge for representative democracy?
Project Title: The Technocratic Challenge to Democracy
Publications and Working Papers:
- “Bring in the Experts? Citizen Preferences for Independent Experts in Political Decision-Making Processes.” European Journal of Political Research. Early version
- “People Haven’t Had Enough of Experts: Technocratic Attitudes among Citizens in Nine European Democracies” (with Daniele Caramani). American Journal of Political Science. (Early version) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajps.12554
- “Technocratic Discourse Codebook” (with Daniele Caramani). IPZ Working Papers. (Download)
- “Technocratic Attitudes: A Citizens’ Perspective of Expert Decision-Making.” (with Giulia Pastorella). West European Politics. doi:10.1080/01402382.2016.1242046
- The Technocratic Challenge to Democracy, Edited by Eri Bertsou and Daniele Caramani. Routledge. Table of Contents
- “The Electoral Implications of Technocratic Attitudes.” Working paper
- “Anything But Politics: The Overlap Between Populist and Technocratic Citizen Preferences” Working paper
- “Technocratic Attitudes in Comparative Perspective” (with Daniele Caramani). Working paper
- Invited talk on ‘Citizen Technocratic Attitudes in Comparative Perspective: Evidence from non-European Democracies’ at the Comparative Politics and Political Economy Speaker Series. University of Konstanz, July 6, 2021.
- Invited talk on ‘The Electoral Implications of Technocratic Attitudes’ at the Early Career Researchers Seminar Series, Virtual Seminar, July 29, 2020.
- Invited talk on ‘Citizen Preference for Experts in Policy-making’ at St. Gallen, Political Science Research Seminar, December 3, 2019.
- Invited talk on ‘People Haven’t Had Enough of Experts’ at Bocconi University, Dondena Seminar Series, November 14, 2017.
- Invited talk on ‘Measuring Technocratic Attitudes Among Citizens in Nine European Democracies‘ at the Centre for Political Science Research, KU Leuven, 23 May 2017, Belgium. Research Note
- Organised Panel on ‘Political Outsiders and the Challenge to Party Politics’, ECPR Annual Conference, Wrocław, Poland, 4-7 September 2019.
- ECPR Joint Sessions Workshop in Nicosia, April 2018.
- Research Workshop organised at the University of Zurich, October 5-6 2017.
Citizen Trust and Distrust in Politics
While the study of political trust has been at the heart of political behaviour research, very little is known about the role of distrust in politics and its consequences for democratic system stability. At the same time, political developments across Europe and the US point to the fact that the prevailing sentiment citizens harbour towards their political class, parties and institution is, indeed, distrust. My doctoral thesis focused on the conceptualisation and measurement of political distrust and answered the questions of what citizens mean when they claim to distrust politicians and institutions. My current research expands on this and investigates the impact of distrust, the points when distrust spills over from specific to systemic levels and the possibilities for distrust reversal.
Publications and Working Papers:
- “Political Distrust and its Discontents.” (2020) Societies. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9040072
- “Rethinking Political Distrust.” (2019) European Political Science Review. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1755773919000080
- “Distrusting Citizens: Revisiting the Concept and Measurement of Political Distrust, and its Consequences” (with Michael Bruter and Sara Harrison). Under Review. Early version available here
- “Representation at Any Cost? Changing Modes of Party Support and Implications for Political Behaviour.” Working paper.
- “Citizen Attitudes of Political Distrust: Examining Distrust through Technical, Ethical and Interest-Based Evaluations.” PhD Thesis, available at the London School of Economics library. Download here
- “Political Trust and the Future of Democracy” Webinar with the UN Foundation nd UN Secretary General Executive Office, TrustGov, January 2021.
- Presentation on “Distrusting Citizens” at the TrustGov Workshop Series, July 27, 2020.
- Invited talk “The Psychology of Political Distrust” at the Workshop for Trust in Media and Politics organized by Ulrich Saxer-Stiftung Foundation, Zurich, 2 October 2017.
- Book project: ‘It’s Distrust Stupid! Why citizens distrust politics and what it means for our democracies’. Manuscript in preparation and discussed at book workshop, 2019.
- Invited talk on ‘Political Distrust from the Citizens’ Perspective’ at the Centre for Political Science Research, KU Leuven, 23 November 2015, Belgium.
Democratic Representation and Political Behaviour
I am always interested in conducting research that focuses on the issues of democratic representation, partisanship and political behaviour, participation or electoral choice. Plenty of political developments, popular referenda, national elections and EU changes, offer ample of opportunity for such research.
Publications and Working Papers:
- “Between Direct Democracy and Representation: the Case of Brexit” (with Daniele Caramani). Working paper, presented Jean Monnet Fellowship Programme @25, European University Institute, Florence, June 22-23, 2017.
- “Changing Modes of Partisanship and Implications for Political Behaviour.” Working paper, presented at APSA 2016.
- “Efficacy, Media Use and Political Participation: Revisiting Gamson’s mobilization hypothesis.” (with Bruno Wueest). Working paper, presented at EPSA 2016.
- The 2014 EP Elections: A Victory for European Democracy? A Report on the LEQS Annual Event 2014, LEQS Paper No. 78, July 2014.