A Selection of Current Research Projects by Political Science Faculty

The list below provides a sample of current research projects in the Department of Political Science at UW–Madison. Projects are grouped by major fields. Contact the department at info@polisci.wisc.edu if you would like further information.

American Politics

  • election administration, with a focus on early voting, polling place management, local officials, and how to measure state performance
  • the genetic, health, and personality factors behind political participation
  • corporate and labor independent campaign expenditures and their effect or non-effect on policy and electoral outcomes
  • what makes a battleground state a battleground
  • state and regional variations in the relationship between income distribution, partisanship, and polarization
  • impact of early voting on turnout and vote choice
  • how presidents and their staffs evaluate efforts to persuade the public
  • collective action problems in Congress
  • the Morrill Act (the land grant act for higher education passed in 1862) and the "military tactics" provision of this landmark act that promoted public higher education.
  • the use of neuroscience in court and the politics and law of responsibility
  • law and jurisprudence on obscenity and pornography
  • academic freedom and free speech
  • the role of health professionals in regulatory policymaking in Wisconsin
  • the influence of interest group lobbying during the president's review of government regulations
  • public participation during the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's policymaking process
  • the role of state legislative and gubernatorial partisanship in providing discretionary authority to state administrative agencies
  • why parties are often well advised to move toward the extremes, rather than the "median voter"
  • geographical regions and transformations of the American party system
  • partisan differences in the administration of elections
  • estimating the prevalence of voter impersonation in the 2012 US presidential election
  • how rural Wisconsinites make sense of politics and the proper role of government
  • the impact of providing an iPad application to those being discharged from hospitals to short- or long-term nursing homes
  • the implementation of the Affordable Care Act
  • use of scientific evidence in the regulatory process
  • judicial selection methods
  • language and quality of federal and Supreme Court opinions
  • non-compliance with court decisions
  • how changes in Wisconsin criminal sentencing laws affected the sentencing behavior of elected judges
  • how financial dependence on someone else affects preferences for unemployment insurance
  • whether unemployment insurance induces workers to acquire skills specific to a particular employer or task

Comparative Politics

  • formal theory of autocracy
  • the political consequences of Russia's emancipation of the serfs
  • land use change in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union
  • the origins of genocide in contemporary Africa
  • genocide prevention materials for training U.S. government officials
  • the origins of violence in elections in Africa
  • legislative decision-making, especially in the European Parliament
  • social networks in legislative politics
  • the role of voluntary, issue-based groups of lawmakers in legislative politics
  • the use of expertise, information, and academic research in legislative processes
  • responses to the marketization of food and water in Latin America
  • social identities (nationalism, ethnicity) and norms
  • why voters abandon established political parties in Latin America
  • whether polarization affects citizens' attachments to political parties
  • how the structure of inequality affects citizens' preferences for redistribution
  • whether the under-representation of the working class in Latin American legislatures matters for politics
  • how political uncertainty affects the development and behavior of political parties in new democracies
  • the paths to political power of women and indigenous peoples in Latin America, and whether ascent to formal political power has led to changes in political agendas
  • the impact of territorial division on intra-state and inter-state conflicts
  • whether including religious parties in the democratic process fosters their moderation
  • long-term impacts of corporatization and privatization of Canadian public agencies
  • the politics and culture of football (soccer) in Africa to revisit questions of nationalism, democratization, and non-state forms of political governance
  • the continuity of non-state forms of political organization in Africa across different historical eras
  • the politics of daily life and the importance of non-state forms of governance and how they impact each of us daily
  • why post-conflict countries in Africa have double the rates of female legislative representation and have been more likely to pass women's rights legislation and constitutional provisions compared with countries that have not undergone conflict
  • women's movements in the Maghreb (Mauritania, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya)
  • local congressional elections and representation in authoritarian China
  • the effect of electoral institutions on how rich democracies respond to widening income inequality, particularly their preference for credit-expanding policies over income redistribution
  • the causes and effects of, and remedies for, political inequality in India
  • the causes and consequences of the mass, non-violent anti-colonial movement in British India
  • the effects of migration on rioting and the political economy of development in India
  • corruption in South Asia
  • a comparative study of constitutional reasoning
  • higher education and globalization

International Relations

  • human rights and international law
  • influence of international lobbying on American foreign policy
  • the politics of financial crises
  • the political economy of the Euro crisis
  • the linkages between exchange rates, financial openness, and trade policy
  • the limits of American power and influence in the international financial institutions
  • how trust can be built up between members of different identity groups to facilitate cooperation
  • how states can deter challenges to their interests by a combination of threats and assurances to the challenging state
  • how concerns over relative status in the international system lead to international conflict
  • how nuclear dominance affects the odds of winning conflicts in world politics
  • how reputations for resolve form in international relations
  • how social power affects decisions relating to escalation in an experimental game, using political and military leaders as subjects
  • why some non-democracies are extremely war-prone, while others are very cautious about using military force
  • when and why citizens support the use of military force abroad
  • why states seek nuclear weapons
  • whether international recognition shapes the attitudes of mass-publics involved in struggles for self-determination

Political Theory

  • democracy and the idea of self-education
  • rhetorical studies in the educational philosophy of Alexander Meiklejohn
  • crowds and democratic politics in Thucydides' History
  • scholarly and popular discourse in favor of all-black male schools
  • the relationship between social and political inequality and discourse
  • theories of democratic representation