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Research areas

The research conducted at the Department of Political Science focuses on elections, opinion polls and democracy. But we also conduct research on the importance of – and how to create – well-functioning political institutions, as well as research on international and European politics. Studies are also conducted in the fields of, gender policy, environmental policy, corruption and political ideas.  

Internationally our research ranks highly, and our databases in election studies, corruption and democracy are among the best in the world.

Five high-profile research programmes

Swedish National Election Studies Programme (SNES)
Our high-profile research on elections, voters and Swedish representative democracy has evolved over all of six decades. Since 1956, for each of Sweden´s national elections, referenda, and the elections for the European Parliament, we have conducted a National Election Study as part of the Swedish National Election Studies Programme. This programme is funded through a specific mandate from the Swedish Government to the University of Gothenburg, and additionally receives support from many research councils. 

The Quality of Government Institute (QoG)
The QoG-Institute was started in 2004 by professors Bo Rothstein and Sören Holmberg. It conducts research in the field of quality of government, which aims to address the theoretical and empirical problem of how political institutions of high quality can be created and maintained.

The Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
V-Dem is an international research collaboration that has developed a new, multidimensional approach to measure democracy as objectively and accurately as possible. V-Dem looks at principles of democracy that are far more complex than the mere presence of free and fair elections. We distinguish between five different principles of democracy: electoral, liberal, participatory, deliberative and egalitarian. 

The Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD)
Why are some societies able to provide safe and secure environments, good education, adequate health care and other factors that promote human development while others fail to do so? GLD brings together researchers from all over the world in a joint effort to shed light on the relationship between governance and local development.

Centre for Collective Action Research (CeCAR)
CeCAR is an interdisciplinary project started in 2016 as part of the University of Gothenburg´s big focus on global social challenges: UGOT Challenges. At CeCAR, researchers in the sciences, social sciences and humanities collaborate with government agencies and organisations. CeCAR´s research aims to contribute knowledge about the mechanisms behind voluntary and regulated, large-scale collective action.

More inspiring research

Centre for Environmental Political Studies (CEPS)
Our research on environmental policy and public administration seeks answers to questions about the interaction between society and the environment.

European Research
The Department´s European researchers focus on the EU´s institutions and policy areas, but also on comparative European politics, voter behaviour and political parties. These researchers are often active in the interdisciplinary Europeans studies environment at the University of Gotenburg, at the Centre for European Research (CERGU).

Gender and Diplomacy, Women in Diplomacy (GenDip)
This programme aims to identify and analyse the changing nature of gender in diplomacy. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, most diplomats were men. But in the twenty-first century, the proportion of women has increased markedly. What happens to diplomacy when women come onto the stage? How does this impact relations between states? These are just some of the more overarching questions that this research programme seeks answers to.

Gender and Political Representation
This research area is about the importance of gender in political representation. In recent decades, the proportion of women in politically elected bodies in Sweden and around the world has risen. What does this mean for the politics pursued in these bodies? Is the polity itself affected? For example, is there a reduction in the degree of corruption? These are some of the key questions asked in the programme. 

International Politics
The emphasis of our research in international politics lies on foreign policy decision-making, the importance of ideas and standards, and questions of identity, gender and international environmental policy. But because this area is so huge, we also do research on topics such as foreign policy leadership, the relationship of states to the UN, and trends in public opinion on international policy questions, in particular in the area of security policy.

Linguistic Explorations of Sociteties (LES)
This is a new area of research at the Department of Political Science that spans the disciplines of political science, computer linguistics and computer science. This field of research includes two international methodology research projects entitled Language effects in public opinion surveys and Studies of opinions and communities in online text data. These projects use new methods in language technology in combination with text data from the Internet to respond to the challenges being faced by comparative survey research.

Party Research Programme
This research programme consists of a network of researchers with a special interest in political parties and party systems. Most of them are active as lecturers and researchers within the Department of Political Science.

Political Institutions
Our research in this area is about how political institutions influence politics in action. These institutions can be either formal, such as constitutional bodies, the social security system and the legal system; or informal, such as social norms and standards, social capital and public trust in the government and its institutions. The overarching question is how changes in formal and informal political institutions, over time and between different countries, influence politics.

Political Theory
This research area spans a number of sub-fields, normative political theory being the broadest. It deals with many pressing, normative social issues such as how conflicts of values should be handled in a multicultural society, what civic virtues should characterise a liberal society, and how individual liability can have consequences in questions related to the fair distribution of wealth. Other sub-fields are the history of political ideas, positive political theory, conceptual analysis and to some extent also the theory of science.

Public Policy and Public Administration
This research area is about the capacities of politically elected bodies – the Swedish parliament (Riksdag), and municipal and county councils – to exercise governance. For instance, research in this area might concern what role the structure of public administration plays, or what roles other institutions play, from a comparative perspective. Other questions concern the individual citizen’s relationships with the authorities and municipal or state government services; the creation, implementation and outcomes of public reform programmes; and the role of the regions in political governance.

Gothenburg Research Programme on Pregnancy and politics (PregDem)
This project aims to describe and explain how pregnancy and childbirth impact people’s circumstances in the community. Not only for the mother, but usually for also her partner as well, these events result in life-changing new experiences. How then are the individual’s political identity, opinions and participation in politics shaped by these processes? Social scientists, midwives and obstetricians investigate the details of these earliest times in the course of parenthood through interdisciplinary collaborations. Large groups of pregnant women and their partners are followed over time and their opinion data are correlated with medical data from their pregnancies and deliveries.



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