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Dr James Dawson

Dr James Dawson

  • Teaching fellows

Teaching Fellow

Research subject areas

  • Politics
  • Conflict and security
  • Policy and society

Contact details


Areas of interest

  • Ethnographic (Fieldwork) and Discursive Methodologies
  • Democratization and Europeanization in Post-Communist Europe
  • Evaluating Democracy
  • Sociology of Soft Power
  • Autocratic Regimes and Revolutions


James moved to King’s College London in 2015 from University College London, where he had served since 2013 as acting Director of MSc Democracy and Comparative Politics. He holds a PhD in Political Science from UCL.

His research has focussed on the challenges of democratization in Central and Eastern Europe with a particular emphasis on the clash of liberal and progressive norms on the one hand and ethnic nationalist and pro-authoritarian ideas on the other. His recent work has been published in the Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of Democracy, East European Politics and Nationalities Papers and he is the author of one monograph – Cultures of Democracy in Serbia and Bulgaria: How Ideas Shape Publics (2014; paperback 2016), which was awarded the BASEES George Blazyca Prize. Consistent with his analytical focus on the spread of ideas, he uses methodologies such as sociological surveys, ethnography and discursive institutionalism. He has also written numerous journalistic articles for Foreign Policy magazine, Open Democracy, Balkan Insight and others. 

In terms of teaching, he has delivered lectures on a range of theoretical and methodological approaches used across the sub-fields of political science including democratic theory, theories of international relations, rational choice and interpretive and relational approaches. 

Major Publications

• ‘Foreground Liberalism, Background Nationalism: A discursive-institutionalist account of leverage and ‘democratic backsliding’ in newer EU members states’ (with Seán Hanley), October 2018 (forthcoming), Journal of Common Market Studies.

• ‘Everyday Democracy: An Ethnographic Methodology for the Evaluation of Democracy’, July 2018 (first published online), East European Politics.

• ‘Rethinking democratic backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe – looking beyond Hungary and Poland’ (with Licia Cianetti and Seán Hanley), July 2018 (first published online), East European Politics.

• ‘What’s Wrong with East-Central Europe? The Fading Mirage of the Liberal Consensus’, (with Seán Hanley), 2016, Journal of Democracy, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp. 20-34.

• Book: ‘Cultures of Democracy in Serbia and Bulgaria: How Ideas Shape Publics’, Routledge, London, 2014; paperback 2016.

• ‘The Ethnic and Non-Ethnic Politics of Everyday Life in Bulgaria’s Southern Borderland’, 2012, Nationalities Papers, Volume 40, Number 3, pp. 473-489