Areas of Research

Historical-Institutional Politics: Political life is shaped by institutions and institutions are shaped by historical development. Faculty at UCSC are committed to research that leverages a fuller understanding of contemporary political struggles by exposing the historical origins of these struggles and by situating them in time. Through interdisciplinary work that draws deeply on history, professors in the department are applying historical-institutional approaches to the study of such topics as legislative institutions, social policy, federalism, colonial institutions and legacies, and party-business networks.

Politics of Culture, Discourse and Ideas: Political events and processes take place within, and operate through, language, ideas, and everyday practices that are both structuring and malleable. Faculty in the department study the frames, discourses, and embodied actions that are intrinsic to politics by engaging such specific questions as the relation between political language and forms of governance; elites' deployment of political branding to mobilize support; resources for critique, change, and mobilization lodged within political discourses such as economy, modernity, human rights, and nationalism.

Multi-level Politics Beyond the Nation-state Ongoing processes of globalization, economic liberalization and decentralization have transformed politics within and among nations. The nation-state in the contemporary period is losing authority both upward to transnational forces and downward to subnational actors. In response, professors in the department are engaged in the study of politics at multiple levels and scales, from municipal governments in Italy to UN-sponsored aid interventions in camps for displaced persons in Sudan; and from homeowners' associations in Beijing to transnational mining companies in Peru.

Political Economy Embedded in Society and History: The relationship between politics and economics is a complex and evolving one. Understanding political economy requires not just reaching into economics, but drawing upon sociology and history as well. Faculty at UCSC are asking a broader range of questions about this relationship in an effort to address the “politics” within political economy. Research agendas include the political impact of increasingly informal labor, the emergence of new forms of global regulation, the construction of distinct varieties of capitalism in post-communist Europe, and the historical emergence and development of political-economic discourses.

These research interests result in a myriad of points of specific convergence in the faculty's research program, which constitute bases for collaboration in the form of ongoing conversations, advising of students, engagement with guest speakers, and joint funding proposals. ... [More]

The department's faculty also collectively pursue distinctive approaches to each of the traditional disciplinary subfields. ... [More]