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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


Democracies around the world are undergoing considerable transformation. This presents them with a number of challenges:

  • Fluctuations in electoral turnout, particularly among groups   such as young or marginalised citizens, and a decline in the membership of   political parties and other forms of political activity suggest a disconnect   between citizens and established democratic institutions.
  • Party systems are changing dramatically with the rise of   radical political parties, which has increased the overall number of parties   in many legislatures and poses questions regarding the effectiveness and   ideological coherence of governments.
  • The latest re-emergence of anti-democratic populism as well as   grassroots activism raises urgent questions regarding trust in governments   and formal political institutions, and on the changing relationships between   citizens and the democratic process.

These challenges are closely related to wider developments such as the changing nature of citizenship and political participation, demographic transformations, environmental change and its associated risks, or the emergence of new technologies and transnational public spheres.

On one hand, these challenges pose urgent questions on the future of established democracies and whether or not the UK and other societies may form part of a worldwide ‘democratic recession’. On the other hand, they also open up opportunities to reform and reinvent democratic institutions and related processes such as citizen engagement and community governance.

The Citizenship, Democracy and Transformation group conducts research on urgent questions regarding the changing nature and sustainable futures of democracies. Our members investigate the changing relationship between citizens and the democratic process, the restructuring of politics and democratic institutions, and emerging issues in democratic representation and political participation at the local, national, transnational, and global level.

Our research considers the existing empirical trends and their theoretical foundations, the various issues these generate for democracies, which opportunities may arise from them, what solutions may exist, and what the main societal and policy implications are. We conduct research on citizenship and the transformation of democracy in the UK, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, the European Union as well as the US and India.

UN75 at NTU Panel and Discussion

In 2020, the Citizenship, Democracy and Transformation Group hosted a panel and roundtable discussion with international experts as part of the NTU UN75 Virtual Institute of Advanced Studies Conference. Under the title “New Models of Civic Society and Participatory Governance” research group members discussed their latest work on civic engagement and participatory governance with internationally leading experts from France, Belgium, the UK, and Australia. The event was open to the public. It attracted 53 attendants and a video recording is available to watch to be included on the research group website. Click here to view a recording of the whole event.


Our research has attracted funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Nuffield Foundation, and the Nottinghamshire County Council. 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
  • Nottingham City Council
  • Age Friendly Nottingham
  • University of the 3rd Age
  • Gedling Seniors Council
  • Gedling Youth Council
  • Nottingham Youth Cabinet
  • Nottingham Primary Parliament
  • Nottingham Refugee Forum
  • Emmanuel House Support Centre

Related staff

PhD students:


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

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