What do we study?

Academics in the Democracy Unit study various aspects of democracy. They address questions such as:

What exactly is democracy?

What are the different types of democracy?

What are the values on which democracy is based?

What are the main arguments in favour of one type of democracy rather than another?

How do elected politicians behave?

Why do voters vote the way they do in elections and referendums?

How is policy making organised in a democracy?

How do new forms of democracy such as Citizens’ Assemblies work and are they defensible ways of making decisions?

Can the workplace be democratic?

Is there potential for a global government?

What is the future of democracy?

This general range of questions include what are often described as ‘normative’ or ‘political theory’ questions, which focus on the main ideas underpinning democracy, as well as ‘political science’ or ‘empirical’ questions, which focus on the different ways in which democracy is institutionally put into effect and how politicians and citizens think and act.

We address these questions in a general sense and also focus on specific cases. Unsurprisingly, given that we are based in Belfast, we have expertise on Northern Ireland, as well as Britain and the Republic of Ireland. We also have a strong focus on the EU and, further afield, we have expertise on many regions of the world.