Jason Leman

Department of Politics and International Relations

PhD Research Student


Full contact details

Jason Leman
Department of Politics and International Relations
Modular Teaching Village
Northumberland Road
S10 1AJ

Jason Leman is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Sheffield. He holds a BSc (Hons) in Physics & Astronomy and a Masters in Research Methods (Sociology & Social Policy). Jason is an experienced qualitative and quantitative researcher, and is currently Surveys Executive at Advance HE, responsible for the development, analysis, and reporting of national student surveys. He is also active in local politics, previously having being researcher for the Sheffield Green Party councillor group and currently active in initiatives around local democracy.

Jason has an interest in democratic renewal and innovation prompted by the limitations of national party politics. The potential of local party groups to offer a non-partisan alternative to national political parties, and the focus of some of these groups upon democratic participatory and deliberative democratic methods within the lowest tier of local government, led to his proposed PhD thesis.


BSc (University of Sheffield)

MRes (Sheffield Hallam University)

Research interests

PhD Title: Local parties and participatory governance in English Local Councils

Supervisors: Dr Felicity Matthews and Dr Kate Dommett

Brief Summary: Changing citizen expectations of participation and concerns over the ability of democracy to resolve the complex and fluid challenges facing it have prompted calls for democratic renewal. My research programme examines the ideal of Empowered Participatory Governance (Fung and Wright 2003), which emphasises participatory and deliberative institutions solving problems at a local level. Whilst democratic theory has hypothesised the value of ‘decentered’ or ‘distributed’ deliberation, the potential role of lower tier local government within this kind of democratic system has been largely neglected.

This research aims to explore how local groups (for example Macfadyen 2014), operating within the third tier of English local government, often known as Town or Parish Councils, may contribute to situations of Empowered Participatory Governance. The research programme will construct an evaluative framework for EPG, contributing to the definition and measurement of democracy. It will also extend understanding of the potential of third-tier local government, and the extent to which local groups play a necessary role, in democratic renewal.

Research interests: Participatory and deliberative democracy; Social problem solving and democracy; Localism, devolution, and local government; The use of utopian ideals in evaluation; Realist research theory and methodology.

Professional activities and memberships

Co-ordinator and Chair - Democracy Across Seven Hills: Public meeting on democracy in Sheffield, May 17 2018

Student Research Team member for Assembly North - Citizens Assemblies Project, 7-8th November 2015

Conference Papers

  • Deepening Empowered Participatory Governance (Paper) Presented at the University of Sheffield Annual PhD Politics Conference, Sheffield, May 17 2018
  • Democracy as a problem solving process (Paper) Presented at the PSA Postgraduate Network 2015 Conference, Sheffield, June 29 2015.