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Citizenship, Democracy and Transformation

Unit(s) of assessment: Politics and International Studies

Research theme: Sustainable Futures

School: School of Social Sciences


The Citizenship, Democracy and Transformation group comprises two main research foci, which include;

Citizens, Parties and Political Participation

This area of the group is interested in the changing relationships between citizens and the democratic process and formal political institutions. Our research considers what opportunities exist for people to intervene in public and political life, and how and why they choose to participate (or not).

However, the political context is undergoing considerable transformation, and in particular, recent trends across many contemporary post-industrial societies suggest a deepening disconnect between citizens and democratic politics and institutions. The research platform is concerned with examining questions such as:

  • What lies at the heart of this apparent disconnect between citizens and mainstream politics?
  • What are the opportunities available for citizens to intervene in public and political life?
  • What are their reasons for doing so - or for choosing not to do so?
  • For those people who do choose to participate in politics, what methods do they elect to use, and why?
  • What about political parties and other political agencies – how do they develop, mobilise and survive, and how do they seek to connect with citizens?

Ethics, Ecology, Identity

The term ‘Anthropocene’ is now commonly used to describe our current geological epoch, denoting a period in history where “human activity affects the Earth’s global functioning, does so discernibly and is outside the range of natural variability” (Steffen et al., 2007).

The associated impacts are invariably negative, and cumulatively represent perhaps the most pressing global concern of our generation. Global climate change, biological annihilation, pollution of the aquatic environment with billions of tons of waste plastic, the ecological burden we are placing on the planet appears increasingly unsustainable and potentially disastrous. For many, these impacts are not simply technical issues, requiring ingenious technological fixes or shallow societal reforms.

Instead they bear witness to a deeper ethical and existential malaise concerning the very nature and status of the 'human' and her relationship to the complex, vibrant and multifarious 'more-than-human' world, in which we reside and upon which we depend absolutely. At issue, therefore, is the ethical, political and ontological relations that pertain between ourselves and the other-than-human; at stake is no less than the character, bearing and future tenability of human civilisation and the fate of the multiplicity of species with whom we share the planet.

The Ethics, Ecology, Identity research focus provides a focal point for academics engaged in an interdisciplinary manner with issues relating to ethics, politics and identity in the Anthropocene. We draw upon a wide range of theoretical resources and explore a broad spectrum of concrete empirical scenarios, to generate transformational possibilities for individuals, institutions and democratic processes.


Our research has attracted funding from the Nottinghamshire County Council, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Nuffield Foundation.  We continue to develop professional relations with a number of local, national and international organisations and agencies through our research activities. These relationships underpin our ambitions to reach out beyond the university sector, and to conduct research that is socially innovative, exciting, relevant and valuable. Through our research, we have recently connected with:

  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Local Area Research and Intelligence Association (LARIA)
  • Citizenship Foundation
  • National Union of Students
  • Institute of Citizenship
  • British Youth Council
  • Association for Citizenship Teaching
  • The Electoral Commission
  • IPPR North


Work by the group has been published in several books and has also recently appeared in major international journals such as:

  • European Political Science
  • British Politics
  • Political Studies
  • Policy and Politics
  • Parliamentary Affairs
  • International Politics Reviews
  • Political Insight
  • British Journal of Sociology
  • Capital & Class
  • Subjectivity
  • Journal of Philosophy of Education
  • Janus Head
  • Journal of Youth Studies
  • Societies
  • Education, Citizenship and Social Justice
  • Social Policy and Society
  • Aloma - Journal of Psychology, Education and Sports Science
  • Sociology Review
  • Teaching Citizenship