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Citizenship and civil society research

Explore our work in citizenship and civil society, one of our areas of expertise in Politics and International Relations

In our citizenship and civil society research, we're exploring aspects of citizenship – from identity politics to questions of sovereignty – and studying how they impact individuals, affect social and political norms and policies, and how they shape the activism of societal actors, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

A significant part of our research investigates how citizenship, identity and migration issues are evolving. In this context, we're analysing the policies, norms and political outcomes associated with these topics, and addressing the complex political challenges that they pose.

Our staff engage with policymakers and practitioners to gain a better understanding of the issues they face, and using their expertise, work with them to find solutions to these problems.

The work we're doing is relevant to everyday citizens, to those that are elected to represent the needs and concerns of the population (for example, the European Parliament) and to non-elected bodies, such as NGOs.

Our research is regularly published in international peer-reviewed journals – such as Citizenship Studies, Ethnicity and Migration, Political Studies, and Social Movements – and in monographs with leading academic publishers, including Cambridge University Press, Palgrave Macmillan, and Routledge.

Our research covers the following topics

  • Politics and international relations
  • Citizenship studies
  • Migration studies
  • Civil society and social movements
  • Identity politics
  • Questions of sovereignty
  • Nations and nationalism

Methods and facilities

We use a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods – including archival research, statistical analysis, social network analysis, document analysis, media discourse analysis, questionnaires, participant/non-participant observation, focus groups, elite and non-elite interviews, and surveys.

Much of our work is based within specialist centres based at the University, including the Centre for European and International Studies Research and the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence for the Study of a Transnational Europe.

Collaborations and funders

We collaborate with universities, research institutes, NGOs and civil society networks – and national, regional and transnational governance actors across a range of citizenship areas. Recent partners include the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, and the Centre for Global Cooperation Research at the University of Duisberg, Germany.

We also offer expertise to key societal actors, with a specific focus on transnational actors and citizenship practices in specific regions, such as Europe and Africa.

Our work is frequently funded by major funding bodies in the UK, other European countries and the European Union, and by research councils and foundations – including the British Academy, the European Union, the Research Councils of Germany and Norway.

Project highlights

  • Transnational Civil Society

    A collaborative project which focuses on transnational connections among civil society groups

  • Citizenship, 'Race' and Belonging

    A collaborative project which focuses on issues of citizenship, identity and migration in various regions and with a multidisciplinary approach to research

  • Exploring the Edge of Citizenship

    A project funded by the Technology and Research Initiative Fund that explores what is meant by defining ‘community’ and ‘citizenship’ as positive values

Discover our areas of expertise

Citizenship and civil society is one of our four areas of expertise in our Politics and International Relations research area. Explore the others below.

Security and defence

We're exploring how different aspects of citizenship impact individuals, and how they shape society, politics and policies in local, regional, national and transnational contexts.
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Politics of states and regions

We're looking at how to improve people's lives around the world by understanding the local, regional, national and transnational dimensions of their nation or region's politics.
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Global governance

We're addressing the political challenges of the modern world, by analysing how insecurity, conflict and political exclusion form in different regions – and what impacts they make.
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Research groups

Peace, Conflict and Security Research Group

We're researching the complex reality of the struggles over the meaning of security, citizenship and rights.

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Transnational Politics and Society Research Group

Our research focuses on the cross-border dimensions of Europe and the wider world, including transnational politics, civil society and migration.

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Interested in a PhD in Politics and International Development?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Politics and International Development postgraduate research degrees page.