I am a first year PhD student in PAIS.
- I started my PhD in October 2012 under the supervision of Dr John Parkinson.
- I have a MA in Politics from the University of Warwick and a BA in Politics, also from the University of Warwick.
- I am studying the role that understandings of democracy play in shaping democratic practice. This places the focus of my research on the role of ideas and how they influence action.
- I am also a Councillor for Sherbourne Ward on Coventry City Council.
The role of subjective understandings of democracy in shaping democratic practice (working title)
There is a widespread view that Western Democracy is not as healthy as it should be. Low rates of participation, accountability deficits and questions over the nature of representation are frequently cited in academic literature and are evidenced through a wide range of empirical examples. However, elite responses to these problems do not appear to have addressed these problems. My study asks why elite responses to the problems associated with democracy have not been effective.
I hypothesise that elite responses are not effective as they do not take into account the different understandings of the problems associated with democracy at different levels of the policy process. Testing this hypothesis will require an analysis of how democracy is understood as a policy idea and the factors that shape that understanding. As this study examines ideas as institutions, I will draw on discursive institutionalism, this approach allows me to unpack subjective understandings of democratic concepts and the problems associated with them in a context-sensitive way.
To test the hypothesis I will focus on two contemporary, UK-based, case studies. I will examine the way elites understood the problems of democracy that lead to the creation of the Police and Crime Commissioners followed by an analysis of the way street-level policy actors understood this problem. Secondly I will examine the way elites understood the problems of democracy that lead to the creation of Local Enterprise Partnerships followed by an analysis of the way street-level policy actors understood this problem.
This study will therefore provide an analysis of the success of these new organisations as well as contributing to existing work that characterises democracy as a policy idea.