My research interests include the history of democratic ideas and practices, theories of the welfare state, post-Kantian German political philosophy, theories of domination, and critical approaches to political economy and capitalism. 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 Stateexamines 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 uses the thought of Karl Polanyi to develop a vision of the democratic governance of the economy, one that challenges dominant strands of democratic theory for accepting a narrow, depoliticized view of economic institutions. Articles from this project has 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. I have completed a working paper for this project.