My overarching research interest is how globalisation induces new challenges to liberal democracy. To answer this question, I employ state-of-the-art methods to study climate and environmental politics, and populism. My methodological approach is characterised by rigour and spans from qualitative case studies to methods of causal inference with observational data; however, I specialise in experimental political science research.
For a list of my publications, please consult my CV.
How populist challenge liberal democracy
At the start of my scholarly career, I published several articles focussing on the relationship of populism and liberal democracy. Contrasting the dominant view in the literature, I argued that populists are not either a threat or corrective for liberal democracy; rather I demonstrate that populism’s effects vary by their role in the political system, their ideology and contextual factors. This stream of work was published in journals such as Political Studies, Politics and Governance, and the Swiss Political Science Review. Subsequently, my research agenda in this field moved from the party level to the individual level. For example, our 2021 Party Politics paper demonstrates how populist attitudes shape support for direct democracy. I also scrutinise under which conditions citizens support populist parties. This work has been published in the British Journal of Political Science.
I continued to build on this research, and I sought to disentangle citizens’ support for various decision-making procedures and motivations to delegate decision-making power. Parts of this work have been published in Comparative Political Studies. Thereby, my work provides a comprehensive assessment of questions related to the supply and demand of populist parties and their consequences for democratic representation.
Public opinion in climate and environmental politics
The study of environmental and climate politics has been a central pillar of my research agenda since my dissertation. The intention of this research is twofold. On the one hand, this research aims to provide a deeper understanding of why some citizens oppose certain climate and environmental policies. On the other hand — and of great societal relevance — this research provides concrete recommendations for policymakers to garner public support for far-reaching climate policy and overcome public opposition.
In this regard, I studied the effects of social norms on car owners’ pro-environmental behaviour in a combination of field and survey experiments. This study was published in Environmental Science and Policy. Beyond this paper, I investigated public support for environmental policies. To this end, I mostly relied on survey-embedded conjoint experiments to test expectations derived from political psychology (published in Environmental Politics) and political economy (published in the Journal of Public Policy and Energy Research & Social Science).
I also made substantial contributions to the joint study of populism and environmental politics. I argue that individuals with strong populist attitudes oppose climate and environmental policies because they perceive climate politics as an abstract, elite-driven project of a cosmopolitan liberal elite. Survey and experimental data are consistent with my theoretical expectations. This work has been published in Environmental Politics, the Journal of European Public Policy, and Climate Policy. I also scrutinised whether we observe similar behaviour on a party level (published in the Journal of European Public Policy).