My research interests include contemporary democratic theory, critical social theory, the history of democratic ideas and practices, theories of the welfare state, post-Kantian German political philosophy, the political theory of European integration, and critical approaches to political economy and capitalism. Substantively, my work asks: how can we realize the ideal of democracy in the context of capitalism and the modern state? I have written about figures in continental political thought (Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt), the history of German liberalism (Lorenz von Stein, Gustav Schmoller, Max Weber), and critical theories of capitalism (Karl Polanyi, Jürgen Habermas). I draw broadly on intellectual history, comparative politics, and social theory for insights that can enrich debates in democratic theory.
My first book The Work of Politics: Making a Democratic Welfare State (Cambridge 2020) examines the politics of transformative democratic world-building in the modern welfare state. Drawing on the thought of Max Weber, Hannah Arendt, and Jürgen Habermas, I develop a theory of welfare institutions as “worldly mediators” between instrumental, economic imperatives and collective judgment and political action. The book then looks to the history of political struggles in the welfare state, such as the mobilization of German workers in nineteenth-century Germany and post-war feminist movements in Sweden, to illustrate how social movements can use welfare institutions to transform structures of domination in society. Portions of this project have been published in the American Political Science Review and the Journal of Politics.
I am also working on two long-term projects. The first examines the contemporary politics of finance and debt from the perspective of critical democratic theory, drawing on ideas from Karl Polanyi. Articles from this project have been published in the American Journal of Political Science, Constellations, and Global Perspectives. The second project advances a historical reconstruction of the theory of popular democracy and argues for its superiority to currently prevalent accounts of liberal and representative democracy. In contrast to both views, the theory of popular democracy begins from the problem of elite power, rather than representing the will or interests of voters, and de-centers elections as the primary mechanism of democratic empowerment. An article from this project has recently been published in the Journal of Political Philosophy.