Picture of Dr Katharine Dommett

Dr Katharine Dommett

Lecturer in the Public Understanding of Politics

Contact Details
Email: k.dommett@sheffield.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 1682
Room: 211, Elmfield Building


Dr Kate Dommett is lecturer in the Public Understanding of Politics. Her research focuses on political parties, party ideology and democratic politics and she has specific expertise on the British political parties and governance.

Kate is currently the holder of an ESRC Future Leaders award for a project entitled 'Renewing Party Politics? Digital Innovations in Political Campaigning'. Focusing on UK political parties the project examines how parties are using digital technology to connect with citizens. It also generates new data on public attitudes towards these innovations, exploring their capacity to link citizens to the state and address the sense of disconnect between parties and the public.

A key aspect of Kate’s work is an interest in the public understanding of politics and she is an active member of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre which works on these themes. Kate is keen to engage with audiences beyond academia and works extensively with non-academic organisations. Her new project will work closely with UK Political Parties, YouGov, and the charity Involve. She also has experience of working with the UK Parliament and civil servants in both the UK and Ireland.

Kate has a range of media experience and has featured on BBC Radio 5Live, France 24, ITV Calendar, BBC Radio Wales and in the New Statesman and is happy to accept media requests.

Professional Activities

  • ESRC Knowledge Exchange Fellow 2015-16.
  • Research Group Convenor for the Governance and Participation Research Group.
  • Editorial Advisory Board of Public Policy and Administration 2014-17.

My teaching philosophy is based on a belief in the value of curiosity. University offers students the chance to learn in a completely different way to school and college. Rather than being focused on the answers for exams and assessment, University allows us to develop our own thinking. I encourage my students to explore the way that they view the world, considering which side of political conflicts they stand, why they hold those positions, and why they might be right or wrong. Politics is about passion, conflict and ideas and I use my lectures and seminars to encourage students to explore their own opinions, discover new ideas and be curious about the way they world is run.

The study of politics is all about marshalling facts and ideas to make an argument, therefore I expect students to read widely. I encourage students to spend time browsing through the library and to bring their own ideas and questions to seminars to stimulate discussion. As a lecturer I do not profess to offer all the answers, rather I introduce ideas and debates that students have the freedom to explore. One of the most stimulating parts of being a lecturer is having the opportunity to hear new perspectives and ideas, and I find interactions with students provide a constant fuel for my own passion for the study of politics.

I currently teach on two modules:

I also supervise Undergraduate and Masters level dissertations.

PhD Supervision

I am currently supervising the following students:

  • Primary Supervisor to Indra Mangule with Dr Garrett Brown– ‘Mainstreaming Deliberative Mechanisms: A Civic Republican approach’
  • Primary Supervisor to Gloria M Mensah with Dr Chris Jones and Professor Peter Styring – ‘Urea-ka! Public and political perceptions of carbon dioxide utilisation (CDU) in the manufacture of urea-based products’
  • Primary Supervisor to Robin Hughes with Professor Charles Pattie – ‘The Politics of Polling’, a collaborative WhiteRose Studentship with YouGov.
  • Secondary Supervisor to Emma LeVine with Dr. Jane Mulderrig - ‘Corpus-based critical discourse analysis of the political texts of the UK Independence Party, 1993-2015’.

My research looks at the relationship between citizens and the state in contemporary democracies. I have a long standing interest in the nature of the choice presented to citizens and specifically in the relationship between political parties and ideology.

In my new ESRC Future Leaders project (2016-2018) I am examining the way in which political parties interact with citizens. Using a range of methods to monitor current practices in digital campaigning and the public’s perception of these interactions the project will tease apart the consequences of current practices. Through this work the project will build on existing theory around democratic linkage, and inform political parties campaigning strategies. Connected to this work, I am supervising a PhD studentship on the ‘Politics of Polling’ which examines how polling organizations operate and inform our understanding of what the public think.

In addition to this work I have an ongoing interest in expertise and the way in which academics interact with different audiences. Currently I am exploring these themes through a co-productive project with the UK Parliament that examines the way in which academic expertise informs policy processes. This work is also connected to a co-supervised PhD studentship on Carbon Dioxide Utilization which examines the political processes and sensitivities which surround the development of new technologies.

Key Projects

June 2016 ESRC Future Leaders Renewing Party Politics? Digital Innovations in Political Campaigning £185,372
January 2016 Grantham Centre PhD Studentship: Urea¬ka! Public and political perceptions of carbon dioxide utilisation (CDU) in the manufacture of urea ¬based products £80,848
January 2016 White Rose Network PhD Studentship: 'The Politics of Polling' £57,249

View full list of publications

Key Publications

Invited Papers and Conference Participation

  • 18th November 2015 'Dead and Buried or Worthy of Resurrection? Exploring Ideology in Party Politics', New Voices in Politics Seminar Series, Newcastle University.
  • 24th and 25th June 2015, Invited participant in workshop ‘Walking Away from Westminster? Public Service Trajectories in Comparative Perspective’ at Oxford University - in the new Blavatnik School of Government.
  • 11th November 2014, ‘Lessons from UK Public Bodies Reform’, presentation to civil servants in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
  • 10th November 2014, Invited panel participant, ‘Public Bodies Summit’, Cabinet Office, London.
  • 7th November 2014, ‘Are we in an Era of Evidence Based Policy Making?’, Science in Policy Conference, Sheffield.
  • 16th July 2014. Invited panellist, ‘Public Bodies Reform’, Civil Service Live Conference, London.
  • 25th - 26th June 2014, Invited participant for workshop ‘Post-Democratic Politics’ at Durham University.
Media Engagement

Examples of TV, radio and other media engagement include:

Back to top | Back to index of Academic Staff