Research in AHSS

Research in the Department of Politics and Public Administration

Research in the Department of Politics and Public Administration

Research in the Department of Politics and Public Administration addresses a wide range of political and administrative issues at the local, national, European and international level. The topics considered can be grouped into three broad themes, which form the basis of distinct research clusters: democratic performance, global transformation and conflict, and social justice and public ethics. Although based in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, all research clusters maintain links with academic staff and postgraduate students in other UL departments and external academic institutions. The following provides an outline of the general themes investigated by each cluster and a sample of specific project descriptions. 
 
The Democratic Performance Research Cluster brings together researchers examining democratic and administrative structures and practices in Ireland, the EU and wider Europe.  The goal of this cluster is to foster our understanding of the factors that shape the functioning, efficiency, and effectiveness of democratic institutions and public administration in a number of areas, including political participation, representation, civic engagement, decision-making, policy formulation and implementation.
 
One of the Cluster projects undertaken in the area of representation is the online voter advice application www.whichcandidate.ie. The website was set up by cluster member Rory Costello for the 2016 general election, and run in partnership with the Irish Times and several local media organisations so as to maximise public impact. It has both a public information function (informing voters about where election candidates stand on matters of policy) and a research dimension (generating data on the policy preferences of voters and candidates so as to conduct research on political representation). The project received funding from the Irish Research Council.
 
As part of the Cluster’s civic engagement research programme, the project ‘Community Voices for a Renewed Ireland’ enables and facilitates conversations at local level about questions that matter to the future of Irish society. The initiative was originally designed as part of the President of Ireland’s Ethics Initiative and is undertaken by cluster member Chris McInerney in conjunction with Kieran Keohane (UCC) and Ciaran Lynch (LIT).  The final report was launched at Áras an Uachtarain on 1st February 2016 (see www.president.ie).  A second, web supported phase of this project is now under design and aims to enhance, share and synthesise social, political and economic perspectives at locations all over Ireland.
 
The Global Transformation and Conflict Research Cluster provides a forum for intellectual interactions and research initiatives addressing questions regarding how ongoing political and economic changes are altering the dynamics of power internationally and within nation states. It seeks to facilitate both theoretical and empirical research on regionalism, political economy, international and domestic conflict, corruption, austerity and resistance, and state transformation. 
An example of research conducted by this Cluster in the area of peace and development concerns a project on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace and Security). With funding from the Folke Bernadotte Academy (Sweden), cluster members Helen Basini and Caitlin Ryan conduct research in Sierra Leone and Liberia on the development and implementation of these countries’ National Action Plans. The project investigates the challenges and constraints facing post-conflict countries in implementing national-level plans to improve women’s security, empowerment and political participation.
 
Another study in this area investigates how African public administrations have addressed and been affected by the HIV/Aids pandemic. Cluster members Maura Adshead, Tom Lodge, Chris McInerney, and Helen Basini, as well as Orla Muldoon and Mike Quayle from the Department of Psychology, work together on this project with colleagues and students at the Universities of Makerere (Uganda), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa). This undertaking is funded by the HEA and Irish Aid and is sponsoring four PhD projects as well as various collaborative investigations by faculty from the four universities involved.
 
A final example of research in this cluster concerns a study on the political sociology of the European far right. It is conducted by cluster member Owen Worth in conjunction with Professor Kwang-Yeong Shin (Chung-Ang University, Seoul). In particular, Owen Worth investigates the emergence of the far right in the United Kingdom. The project is financially supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea. 
 
The Social Justice and Public Ethics Research Cluster addresses fundamental questions about how we ought to live together and about what justice requires, both domestically and globally. It aims to facilitate theoretical and applied research about ethical questions, especially those arising in political and public life. Research interests of current members include distributive justice, environmental philosophy, equality, exploitation, federalism, global justice, justice in health, liberalism, linguistic justice, multiculturalism, radicalism, rights, and toleration.
 
One of the studies currently conducted as part of this cluster is the EU-funded project Mobility and Inclusion in Multilingual Europe. The project includes researchers from twenty universities across Europe, drawn from linguistics, political science, history, philosophy, sociology, geography, economics, education, translation studies, psychology, and law. In this context, cluster members Andrew Shorten and Brian Carey are investigating the relationship between language policy and social justice, aiming to understand how Europe’s changing linguistic circumstances advantage and disadvantage different groups of people, and to make recommendations about the distribution of these advantages and disadvantages.
 
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