I study the Comparative Democratization of Eastern Europe and Latin America. My scholarly work has examined the micro-foundations of citizen responses (vote, protest, and migration) to, and perceptions of, critical junctures in Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Venezuela, and Argentina. My policy research has interrogated: EU cultural diplomacy, think tanks as reform actors (SIDA/OSI), ‘new’ EU members’ role in eastward enlargement (NISS), good government indicators (OECD), democratic dialogue (UNDP), and governance (World Bank).
My work is comparative (across space and time) and is both intra-regional and inter-regional in nature. I employ mixed methods in my research. I have led several large survey projects and have conducted extensive field and language-based research (with over 500 interviews and over 40 focus groups conducted). I have conducted research in 5 local languages. Below you can read about the ongoing and past research projects that I lead/have led.
In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the human rights emergency that resulted from it, I joined a team of colleagues at the Kyiv School of Economics, Duke, UNC, and the University of Maryland on the #DataForUkraine project providing data on civilian resistance (CR), human rights abuses (HRA), internally displaced people (IDP) and humanitarian support/needs (HS) during the ongoing Russian invasion of and war against Ukraine.
MOBILISE: COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF EXIT & VOICE
I am the UK PI and overall project lead of MOBILISE (2019 – 2022). Our project asks: When there is discontent, why do some people protest while others cross borders? Connecting theoretical expectations from the migration and protest literatures, we examine: a) whether similar factors drive the choice to migrate and/or protest at the individual level; b) how context affects this mobilization; c) whether these choices are independent of each other or mutually reinforcing/ undermining. MOBILISE employs a multi-method (nationally representative face-to-face panel surveys, online migrant surveys, protest participant surveys, focus groups, life-history interviews, and social media analysis) and a multi-sited research design. It covers Ukraine, Poland, Morocco, Belarus, and Argentina, which have recently witnessed large-scale emigration and protests. It follows migrants from these countries to the EU. My Co-Investigator in the UK is David Doyle.
IDENTITY & CONFLICT: POLITICAL BEHAVIOR/PUBLIC OPINION IN UKRAINE
I am currently PI of the British Academy-funded “Identity & Borders in Flux” (IBIF) project, which investigates ethnic, civic, and European identities in the context of war. My Co-Is include Henry Hale, Volodymyr Kulyk, and Gwendolyn Sasse.
Between May 2014 and January 2015, I was co-PI (with Prof. Henry Hale (George Washington), Prof. Timothy Colton (Harvard), and Dr Nadiya Kravets (Harvard)), of the National Science Foundation-funded ‘Ukraine Crisis Election Panel Survey‘ – a three-wave nationally representative panel survey of the Ukrainian population. Our study explored: the drivers of protest participation in polarized societies, the effects of conflict on voting behavior, how to best measure and capture ethnolinguistic identity in social survey research, blame attribution in times of crises, and the role of the geographic region in driving public attitudes.
PROTEST, ACTIVISM, & CIVIL SOCIETY IN UKRAINE
For over 18 years have extensively researched contemporary activism and protest in Ukraine. Findings from my research on Ukrainian activism and protest have been published as a monograph, book chapters, and several peer-reviewed journal articles. My research was the first to demonstrate the historical connectivity between waves of mass mobilization (since 1920, including The Revolution on The Granite, Ukraine without Kuchma, The Orange Revolution, and the EuroMaidan) and provide a mapping of the different activist networks and periods of mass protest. Tracing the historical role of ideas, actors, and institutions, my research identified continuity and connectivity between different protest waves and social movement organizations over time and space in Ukraine. A major theoretical contribution of this early research centered on the role of a sense of democratic civic duty to engage in the protest calculous that individuals make when they decide to join in a mass mobilization.
Between 2011 – 2014, I was PI of the British Academy Funded Ukrainian Protest Project. As part of this research – I conducted the first on-site surveys, interviews, and focus groups of protest participants in Kyiv in the 2013-2014 EuroMaidan mass mobilization (colloquially called the Maidan and by some post-fact interpretations described as the Revolution of Dignity). This research: examined the different phases of mobilization (claims, repertoires, and participants) answering who rose first and who joined later, and systematically analyzed the role of social media as motivating and social networks as mobilizing factors in the EuroMaidan mass protest. Based on this research I developed a theory of the ‘protestorate’ in post-communist contexts. This research also contributed to understanding the role of cross-cleavage coalitions underpinning mass mobilization, its trajectory, and the likelihood of success. I am currently working on a book monograph focusing on civilian engagement and mass mobilization in Ukraine.
CEE REFORM ACTORS & EU DEMOCRACY PROMOTION
I have led several policy projects focusing on the role of Central and East European ‘new’ EU member-state reform and NGO actors in EU democracy promotion, and the development of the ENP and Eastern Partnership. Specifically, my interest lies in the role of informal (extra-institutional actors) and related cultural/public diplomacy processes in the EU’s neighborhood.
PROTESTS, ELECTIONS, & MIGRATION IN LATIN AMERICA
In Argentina, I am investigating: How do political parties motivate and mobilize citizens to vote? Data and findings stemming from this project have been published in book chapters and are forthcoming in peer-reviewed journal articles. This research builds on previous data collection projects focusing on the 2001 Mass Mobilization (Argentinazo), published as a book manuscript.
In Venezuela, I am exploring the role of socioeconomic inequality and partisanship as drivers of mass protest and migration. I am specifically focusing on the 2014 and 2017 mass protests and mass out-migration that followed.
In Mexico, I have investigated the role of civic duty in post-election protest mobilization. This research was the basis for a formal model of the ‘civic duty to protest.’