Politics is about the authorised allocation of values: who gets what, when and how much? This question is relevant at many different levels, in many different places and in very different ways.
To reflect this broad scope, the Institute of Political Science offers a broad and diverse research programme:
Institutions, Decisions and Collective Behaviour
The programme addresses how societies are organised and how they should be organised (at local, national, European and global level), how lobbying takes place and how decisions are taken, how conflicts arise and how they are resolved.
The Institute’s research is conducted within six themes:
Conflict, conflict resolution and crisis management
A rapidly changing regional and global environment brings with it challenges and threats. Developments like immigration, new international alliances and climate change are putting pressure on national governments and international partnerships. It is important to understand how citizens, political institutions and international organisations handle such conflicts, whether they do this individually or in a spirit of collaboration or conflict. Are their methods effective, or even legitimate?
Globalisation and the state
Today more than ever, states are having to take account of global developments, circumstances and players. In this globalising environment, policies and institutions are no longer shaped autonomously within the borders of a single country; this is the case even in the largest and most powerful countries. Political scientists are therefore revisiting the changed and changing role of many of our institutions: the state, markets, law-making, national bodies, norms and values in the international arena.
International organisation and European integration
International institutions are also subject to increasing criticism and are having to contend with serious challenges. New technologies, isolationist tendencies and shifts in the balance of global powers are putting pressure on the multilateral order. Against this background, political scientists study the origin, design, consequences of – and certainly also resistance to – international laws and treaties, regional organisations like the EU and global organisations such as the WHO and the UN.
Identity, ethnicity and political communities
Societies in all parts of the world endeavour to incorporate identity and diversity in their politics and decision-making. Ethnic, racial, religious and cultural differences are at the same time a potential source of both tension and conflict between citizens, individually or in a group context. What causes such tensions to lead to conflict? How can diversity be accommodated? How can we arrive at a better understanding of nationalism, federalism, multiculturalism and separatism? These are some of the questions that researchers at the Institute try to answer.
Representation, public opinion and participation
The public’s interest in politics appears to be at a low ebb; citizens are dissatisfied with traditional political parties and are turning to populism. New democracies are resorting to autocratic forms of governance: even in established liberal democracies, leaders are elected who openly cast doubts on democratic norms. This raises questions such as: What does this say about political representation? Can or should this be different? Are alternative connections developing between national government and citizens other than political parties? Are these legitimate, effective and democratic?
Politics in the Netherlands
The Institute of Political Science is located in both Leiden and The Hague, making it ideally placed to focus on politics and governance in the Netherlands. The Institute analyses such issues as crisis management, globalisation, policies and policymaking, elections and political participation, and the functioning of parliament and government at national level. This enables it to examine questions such as: How do our institutions function? What can we learn from public opinion and electoral behaviour? How does decision-making take place at local through to national level?