Funded Research Projects

Staff members of the University of Sydney's Department of Government and International Relations are involved in a number of leading-edge political science research projects. Here is a sampling of recent research grants awarded to staff members from organisations in Australia and overseas.


International Relations

Illicit networks and emerging nuclear states

Chief Investigator: Dr Justin Hastings

Date: 2016-2019

Funding Source: Australian Research Council - Future Fellowships

Amount awarded: $762,000

Project Summary:

This project aims to understand how illicit networks might proliferate by tapping into the legitimate global spread of nuclear materials and dual-use technologies. Using an economic geographic framework, the project will conceptually integrate terrorists, criminals, and companies into nuclear-related trade networks, and assess the nuclear proliferation threat illicit networks pose in emerging civil nuclear states, with proof of concept through Southeast Asian case studies. This is intended to minimise proliferation risk, and improve the Australian government and industry’s ability to participate in the global nuclear trade by increasing the effectiveness of strategic trade controls and nuclear materials security.

Genocide forecasting

Chief Investigator: Dr Ben Goldsmith

Date: 2016-2018

Funding Source: Australian Research Council - Discovery Projects

Amount awarded: $285,000

Project Summary:

The project intends to develop a new method of forecasting to improve the international community’s and Australia's ability to anticipate and prevent genocide. The project is designed to build on work in the Atrocity Forecasting Project since 2009, and to bring together political science and computer science. To address well-known problems the project plans to reconceptualise genocide as extreme targeted mass killing, increasing definitional clarity and data reliability. Combining a better concept with cutting-edge computer science forecasting approaches, the project aims to produce new annual forecasts, pushing accuracy further. Expected project outcomes will provide new understanding and a better tool for genocide prevention.

Mapping the Sovereign State System: 1648-2015

Chief Investigator: Dr Ryan Griffiths

Date: 2016-2018

Funding Source: Australian Research Council - Discovery Projects

Amount awarded: $245,000

Project Summary:

This project seeks to expand our understanding of the nature of conflict, political development and political order. How has the international system influenced political development and the nature of conflict? Knowledge on this topic has been hampered by a Eurocentric conception of the sovereign state, and the resulting quantitative research excludes numerous non-Western states and is biased toward the European experience. By using a culturally-neutral concept of the state, and by pushing the study back in time and across space to include states in the pre-1816 period and non-European regions of the world, the project aims to examine patterns in territorial conflict across differently structured international systems, how state genealogy affects political development, and how international order has varied regionally.

China’s Economic Statecraft: Turning Wealth into Power

Chief Investigator: Dr James Reilly

Date: 2015-2017

Funding Source: Australian Research Council - Discovery Projects

Amount awarded: $165,300

Project Summary:

Chinese leaders increasingly deploy economic resources such as foreign aid and overseas investments to influence policy decisions in other countries. To implement economic statecraft, China's leaders rely upon their state-owned companies, bureaucratic agencies, and local officials, even though they are often unreliable representatives of the central government. Applying an innovative economic theory, this project examines how central leaders' delegation of authority shapes the effectiveness of China's economic statecraft across mainland Asia. The results aim to specify the conditions under which China is able to translate wealth into power—to utilize economic resources to exert political influence abroad.

Waves of Democracy and Secessionist Conflict

Chief Investigator: Dr Ryan Griffiths

Date: 2015-2017

Funding Source: [[http://www.arc.gov.au/discovery-early-career-researcher-award|Australian Research Council - Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA)]]

Amount awarded: $331,000

Project Summary:

What is the relationship between democracy and secessionism? This project aims to investigate the theory that democratisation unleashes secessionist forces that are likely to turn violent in the absence of mature democratic institutions. Thus, waves of democracy yield waves of secessionist conflict. Through a statistical analysis of secessionism combined with case studies in three countries with dissimilar regime types - Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, and Spain - the project aims to study the relationship between democratic institutions and secessionist outcomes. The project aims to contribute to our understanding of the unintended consequences of democratisation and inform policy choices regarding the introduction and sequencing of democratic institutions.

The Geography of Power in China: Urban Expansion and Administrative Empire

Chief Investigator: Dr Minglu Chen, Prof Carolyn Cartier (UTS), Prof George C Lin, and Prof Junde Liu

Date: 2012-2014

Funding Source: Australian Research Council

Amount awarded: $183,000


Reinterpreting the Sino-Japanese war: north China base areas 1939-1940

Chief Investigator: Professor of Chinese Politics David Goodman                                     

Date: 2012-2014

Funding Source: Australian Research Council


Amount awarded: $772,000


Spirited Voices from the Muslim World: Islam, Democracy and Gender Rights

Chief Investigator: Assoc Prof Lily Zubaidah Rahim

Date: July 2010 - July 2011

Funding Source: Australia-Malaysia Institute (AMI), Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

Amount awarded: $21,637

Scheme: AMI-DFAT Grant

Description:

The project focused on progressive Muslim interpretations of Islam, sharia, secular democracy and gender rights in Muslim majority countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and the larger Muslim World.  

Publications/Outputs:

An edited book proposal will be sent to OUP (New York) and Princeton Uni. Press for review in early November 2011.

 

Public Policy

Rights of migrant workers.

Chief Investigator: Dr Anna Boucher                                  

Funding Source: Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award

This project aims to study rights abuse of temporary and permanent migrant workers in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, three democracies with globally high rates of temporary migration. These countries now host many temporary migrant workers with variant experiences of employment rights. This project will investigate the exploitation of migrant workers’ rights, considering the role of industry sectors, trade union representation, visa rules, access to justice and migrant characteristics. This project is expected to formulate policy for migrant protection.


Governing vs. Opposition Parties and the Global Financial Crisis: Comparing the United Kingdom and Australia

Chief Investigator: Professor Allan McConnell (Sydney) and Associate Professor Andrew Hindmoor (University of Queensland)                                     

Funding Source: Australian Research Council


Innovative democracy? Changing approaches to citizen engagement in Australia, the UK and Denmark

Chief Investigator: Assoc Prof Ariadne Vromen, Prof. David Marsh (ANU), and Prof. Henrik P Bang.

Date: 2012-2014

Funding Source: Australian Research Council


Amount awarded: $286,000


Political Theory

Rethinking climate justice in an age of adaption: capabilities, local variation, and public deliberation

Chief Investigator: Professor David Schlosberg with Dr Simon J. Niemeyer (ANU)

Date: 2012-2014

Funding Source: Australian Research Council


Amount awarded: $250,000


Comparative Politics

Bridling Autocrats: Limiting Executive Power in Authoritarian Polities

Chief Investigator: Professor Graeme Gill

Date: 2015-2017

Funding Source: Australian Research Council - Discovery Projects

Amount awarded: $131,100

Project Summary:

This project will analyse the dynamics of elite politics in authoritarian polities, focusing in particular upon how members of the elite try to constrain would-be dictators. By showing the different patterns of elite politics in different types of authoritarian systems, the project will interrogate one of the most curious aspects of contemporary international politics, why so many authoritarian regimes have been able to stabilise themselves in an era commonly seen as being one of democratic advance. Understanding authoritarian elite politics and their implications for regime survival is of significant policy interest.

2011 Kathleen Fitzpatrick Australian Laureate Fellowship

Chief Investigator: Prof Pippa Norris

Date: 2011

Funding Source: Australian Research Council

Scheme: Australian Laureate Fellowship

Description:

For the Laureate project, Prof Norris aims to deepen and advance understanding of the impact of democratic governance upon prosperity, welfare and peace in countries around the world since the late twentieth century. The third wave of democratization has transformed regimes around the globe and the research will seek to establish whether this process has in turn generated concrete benefits in human development.  
 
As part of the Kathleen Fitzpatrick fellowship, she also plans to run workshops and networking events aimed at encouraging early-career women researchers to stay in academia, and also encourage research on gender equality in elected office.


Innovative democracy? Changing approaches to citizen engagement in Australia, the UK and Denmark

Chief Investigator: Assoc Prof Ariadne Vromen,, Prof. David Marsh (ANU), and Prof. Henrik P Bang.

Date: 2012-2014

Funding Source: Australian Research Council


Amount awarded: $286,000


Understanding and Forecasting Political Instability, Mass Atrocities, and Genocide: Combining Social Science and Machine Learning Approaches

Chief Investigator: Assoc Prof Benjamin Goldsmith

Date: 2009

Funding Source: Australian Responsibility to Protect Fund

Amount awarded: $186,371

Publications/Outputs:

“Political Instability and Mass Killing: Comparing Causes in Asia and the Pacific and Globally”

(with Dimitri Semenovich and Arcot Sowmya), under review.

 

“Political Instability and Large-Scale Violence in the Economic North and South: Comparing Causes”

(with Dimitri Semenovich & Arcot Sowmya), paper presented at the International Political Science Association – European Council for Political Research joint conference, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 16-19 February 2011.

 

Political institutions, war, and peace: Global and regional dynamics

Chief Investigator: Assoc Prof Benjamin Goldsmith

Date: 2010 - 2012

Funding Source: Australian Research Council

Amount awarded: $143,000 (2010), $83,000 (2011), $30,000 (2012)

Description:

Ideas about democratic peace have been seized upon by some political leaders, and resonate with the public imagination. Australia has important relationships with countries of a wide range of regime types beyond stable democracy, such as Afghanistan, China, Fiji, Indonesia, and Iraq. This project gives systematic understanding of the real-world foreign policy implications of the range of political regimes. It allows scholars, citizens, and policy makers to move beyond generalisations like democratic peace, the universality of which is belied in recent research. It contributes to safeguarding Australia, develops multidisciplinary social science capacity in cutting edge quantitative methods, and mentors a PhD student.

Publications/Outputs:

“International Trade and the Onset and Escalation of Military Conflict: Different in East Asia?” Under review.

 

“Political Competition, Political Participation, and Democratic Peace in Asia and Africa”

(with Dimitri Semenovich, Arcot Sowmya, and Gorana Grgić), paper presented at the American Political Science Association annual meeting, September 1-4 2012, Seattle, Washington.


“Economic or Political Peace in East Asia?: Testing ‘Capitalist’ and ‘Democratic’ Peace Explanations,”

Paper presented at special joint conference of the Association for Asian Studies and the International Convention of Asia Scholars, Honolulu, Hawai'i, March 31–April 3, 2011.

 

“Polyarchy in Anarchy: Institutions of political competition and participation, and the initiation and escalation of international conflict"

(with Dimitri Semenovich & Arcot Sowmya), paper presented at the SGIR 7th Pan-European International Relations Conference,

Stockholm, 9-11 September 2010.

 

The International Migration Policy and Law Analysis (IMPALA) database

Chief Investigator: Dr Anna Boucher

Date: 2012 - 2014

Amount awarded: $150,000

Funding for Australia:

The University of Sydney Faculty of Law and the Institute for Social Sciences has previously provided seed funding for the project. The University of Sydney IT section has provided funding to set up a cloud-based platform to manage the database.

Harvard University, the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, the Academy of Social Sciences Australia and the School of Social and Political Science funded a one day conference on the database “Fault-lines of Immigration Policy: The Harvard Sydney Immigration Summit” in July 2012.

Description: Read full description here.

The International Migration Policy and Law Analysis (IMPALA) Database will address this problem directly by providing a new set of data on immigration policies that should be of immense value to researchers in a wide variety of academic disciplines. The IMPALA Database is a collaborative project, bringing together social science and legal researchers from Harvard University, the University of Luxembourg, the University of Amsterdam, the London School of Economics, the University of Sydney and the Social Science Research Centre Berlin.

Publications/Outputs: See complete list here.

Crock, M & Ghezelbash, D, 'Do Loose Lips Bring Ships? The Role of Policy, Politics and Human Rights in Managing Unauthorised Boat Arrivals' (2010) 19(2) Griffith Law Review 238-287.

Comparing migration, naturalisation and asylum policies: The International Migration Law and Policy Analysis Database (IMPALA). IMPALA launch article, presented at the European Consortium of Political Research conference in August 2011.  Currently being revised by Boucher, Gest and Helbling for submission.

Immigration policy and its Impact: A comparative study with a focus on Spain, LSE Migration Studies Unit and ICCS, Madrid, 2010 [Thielemann, E., Boucher, A. Mahía, R., Armstrong, C.,  Bovens, L., Gest, J.,  Arce, R., Lorca, A., Lores, N. and McGovern, P. Summary of preliminary Spanish coding].


Australian Politics

Crowdsourcing political engagement

Chief Investigator: Prof Ariadne Vromen

Date: 2016-2018

Funding Source: Australian Research Council - Discovery Projects

Amount awarded: $227,000

Project Summary:

This project aims to examine the transformation of political activism and citizen-led campaigning in the digital age in Australia. Many arguments have been made concerning the way 21st century ‘digital disruption’ is transforming our everyday lives. The project plans to focus on how crowd-sourced forms of political engagement are facilitated by digital tools that let citizens share political information and calls to action. In particular, it aims to identify the extent and character of crowd-sourcing e-tactics: petitioning, boycotting, buycotting and micro-donations. The project intends to adjudicate on the proposition that crowd-sourced means of political engagement offer a qualitatively different type of political engagement.

Evolving Australian party membership

Chief Investigator: Dr Anika Gauja

Date: 2016-2018

Funding Source: Australian Research Council - Discovery Projects

Amount awarded: $185,000

Project Summary:

The project aims to provide new insights into how political party membership is evolving and how citizens and parties engage with each other today. The decline of party memberships is usually equated with the death of parties as participatory organisations and the erosion of their crucial role as vehicles for democratic linkage. Applying a new theoretical framework integrating individual, party and state perspectives, this project plans to examine how membership is structured, how it is practised, what it means today and why membership is declining. Combining organisational analysis with survey and focus group data in an innovative mixed-methods research design, it aims to evaluate what parties can do to secure their future role in Australian democracy and to foster democratic participation through new modes of partisan engagement.