Our 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. Areas of particular interest are:

  • Public opinion, voting behavior, and party politics
  • Political Economy, in particular, welfare state politics and political consequences of economic inequality
  • Globalization and its challenges to democracy


Ongoing Dissertation Projects

Policy Dimensions and the Party Politics of the Welfare State (Sven Hillen)
Does it (still) make a difference to welfare policy whether left or right parties hold government? Do left governments pursue more expansionary policies than their right counterparts? This dissertation project investigates these familiar yet still contested questions with a focus on how political competition shapes the effects of government partisanship. Drawing on the premise that political parties cater to the preferences of their core voters, it argues that attributes of political competition—such as voter turnout and issue salience—which have a bearing on how and why social classes align with parties determine the way left and right governments influence social policy. Particular interest lies in examining the consequence of political competition on more than one policy dimension (i.e., not all controversial policy issues align with each other, forming a single left-right dimension) for individuals’ voting behavior and political support on the one hand and macro-level partisan effects on the welfare state on the other.


Published Dissertations

Explaining European Identity Formation (Stephanie Bergbauer)
Bergbauer, Stephanie (2018): Explaining European Identity Formation. Citizens' Attachment from Maastricht Treaty to Crisis, Cham: Springer International.
ISBN: 978-3-319-67707-1


Theorie und Empirie der Globalisierung (Johannes Kessler)
Kessler, Johannes (2016): Theorie und Empirie der Globalisierung. Grundlagen eines konsistenten Globalisierungsmodells, Wiesbaden: Springer.
ISBN: 978-3-658-02387-4


Citizen Support for Democratic and Autocratic Regimes (Marlene Mauk)
Mauk, Marlene (2020): Citizen Support for Democratic and Autocratic Regimes, Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
ISBN: 978-0-1988-5485-2


Wahlentscheidungen in postsozialistischen Demokratien in Mittel- und Osteuropa (Tatjana Rudi)
Rudi, Tatjana (2010): Wahlentscheidungen in postsozialistischen Demokratien in Mittel- und Osteuropa. Eine vergleichende Untersuchung, Baden-Baden: Nomos (Studien zur Wahl- und Einstellungsforschung,
Band 15).
ISBN: 978-3-832-94608-1


Essays on Globalization and Democracy (Nils Steiner)
Paper-based dissertation, consisting of the following articles:

Steiner, Nils D. (2010): Economic Globalization and Voter Turnout in Established DemocraciesElectoral Studies, 29 (3): 444-459.

Steiner, Nils D./Martin, Christian W. (2012): Economic Integration, Party Polarization and Electoral TurnoutWest European Politics, 35 (2): 238-265.

Steiner, Nils D. (2016): Economic Globalisation, the Perceived Room to Manoeuvre of National Governments, and Electoral Participation: Evidence from the 2001 British General ElectionElectoral Studies, 41(1): 118-128.

Steiner, Nils D. (2016): Comparing Freedom House Democracy Scores to Alternative Indices and Testing for Political Bias: Are US Allies Rated as More Democratic by Freedom House?, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 18(4): 329-394.


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, Baden-Baden: Nomos (Studien zur Wahl- und Einstellungsforschung, Band 21).
ISBN: 978-3-832-97096-3