Research focuses on the comparative study of contemporary democracies. It covers the micro-level of individual citizens as well as the macro-level of political institutions and processes.

  1. Micro-level research deals with political orientations and political behavior of mass publics. It concentrates on (a) types of welfare-state cultures and the significance of these cultures for the legitimation of democratic regimes; (b) European identity and attitudes toward European integration; (c) political culture and political support in old and new democracies and autocracies; and (d) effects of globalization on electoral turnout and behavior.
  2. Macro-level research addresses (a) the performance of democracies; (b) the measurement of democratic and autocratic regimes; and (c) the structure, determinants, and effects of globalization processes in democratic and non-democratic political Systems.


Current Research Projects

Policy Dimensions and the party politics of the welfare state (Sven Hillen)
Currently, I am working on a paper claiming that partisan effects on the welfare state hinge on how the two dimensions of the policy space relate to each other. Due to the rising salience of the cultural policy dimension in recent decades, the set of issues over which parties compete is more volatile than it was in the “golden age” of the welfare state—the prime time of partisan effects. This has implications for how and why social classes align with political parties, the responsiveness of political parties in office and consequently, as I argue, the way left and right governments influence social policy.

This final paper of my cumulative dissertation is also supposed to connect the two lines of my previous research that pertains to the party politics of the welfare state on the one hand, and electoral dynamics in multi-dimensional policy spaces, on the other. (Page)

European Identity in Testing Times – Levels and Determinants of Citizens‘ Identification with Europe from the Treaty of Maastricht to Eastward Enlargement and the Euro Crisis (Stephanie Bergbauer)
Why do some people describe themselves as European and others do not? Under which conditions do citizens in the EU member states feel attached to European and the wider community of Europeans? In short: What makes people identify with Europe? These questions are at the core of this dissertation project seeking to explain variation in identification with Europe among the citizens of EU member states. To answer these questions, I integrate micro- and macro-level explanations of European identity in a comprehensive theoretical model. The empirical analysis examines how individual characteristics (political awareness, attitudes towards the European and national community, transnational experience) and characteristics of member states’ national political and economic context (party positions, economic integration, ethno-cultural make-up) work together to influence citizens’ identification with Europe.

Globalization and Democracy (Johannes Kessler)
At the center of the comparative analysis are political aspects of the globalization phenomenon. The research focuses on the relation between globalization processes and democratic governance.

European Social Survey (ESS): National study for Germany "Society and Democracy in Europe" (Edeltraud Roller)
The European Social Survey (the ESS) is a biennial multi-country survey covering over 25 European nations. The first round was fielded in 2002/2003, the fifth in 2010/2011. The central aim of the ESS is to develop and conduct a systematic study of changing values, attitudes, attributes and behavior patterns within contemporary Europe. It is designed to chart and explain the interaction between Europe's changing political and economic institutions and the attitudes, beliefs and behavior patterns of its diverse populations. The project is funded jointly by the European Commission, the European Science Foundation and academic funding bodies in each participating country. It is directed by a Core Scientific Team led by Rory Fitzgerald at the Centre for Comparative Social Surveys, City University, London (
The German national study "Society and Democracy in Europe" is coordinated by Jan van Deth (University of Mannheim), Oscar W. Gabriel (University of Stuttgart), Heiner Meulemann (University of Cologne; until 2011), Stefan Liebig (University of Bielefeld, from 2011), and Edeltraud Roller (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz). Since 2006, it has been funded by a long-term grant by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft).

The effects of economic globalization on citizens, parties and elections in developed democracies (Nils Steiner)
This research project analyzes how economic globalization affects the democratic process in developed democracies. It studies the repercussions of an increased international economic integration on the political attitudes and behavior of citizens as well as on the interactions between citizens, on the one hand, and parties and governments, on the other. The project focuses on elections in their role as a central element of representative democracy.


Published Research Projects

Wahlentscheidungen in postsozialistischen Demokratien in Mittel- und Osteuropa (Tatjana Rudi)

Rudi, Tatjana (2010): Wahlentscheidungen in postsozialistischen Demokratien in Mittel- und Osteuropa. Eine vergleichende Untersuchung, 1. Aufl., Baden-Baden: Nomos (Studien zur Wahl- und Einstellungsforschung, 15). ISBN: 978-3-8329-4608-1
Link to publisher

The Formation of Support for the European Union in Central and Eastern Europe (Bettina Wagner)

Wagner, Bettina (2012): The formation of support for the European Union in Central and Eastern Europe. The role of national attitudes as cognitive heuristics, 1. Aufl., Baden-Baden: Nomos (Studien zur Wahl- und Einstellungsforschung, 21). ISBN: 978-3-8329-7096-3
Link to publisher