James Weinberg

Dr James Weinberg




James Weinberg is a postdoctoral research associate on the Q-Step programme at the University of Sheffield and an Associate Fellow of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre. Alongside his interdisciplinary work in the field of political psychology, James has a keen research interest in the practice and politics of citizenship education.

James is Lead Fellow for citizenship on the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Democratic Participation and he chairs its Political Literacy Oversight Group. James previously chaired the Political Studies Association's Early Career Network from its inception in 2016 to July 2018, and he is currently a convener of both the Political Psychology and Young People & Politics specialist groups.

In January 2019 James awarded the prestigious Chancellor’s Medal from the University of Sheffield, for his outstanding contribution as an advocate for citizenship education and civic participation.  In the last few years, James has built a reputation as a key ambassador for political literacy and widening participation strategies centred on citizenship education for young people, giving presentations at numerous events including one at the World Forum of Democracy.

Previously James worked in secondary education as a qualified English teacher in London. He completed his Masters in Political Science at the University of Manchester and his BA in History at the University of Oxford.

Research Interests

James wrote his doctorate on the ‘Personal Side of Politics’. Analysing the basic values of parliamentarians in the UK, James conducted original research on the ways that personality characteristics impact upon how and why Members of Parliament 'represent'. He conducted surveys and/or interviews with 106 sitting MPs and 2000 members of the British public. The findings inform publications on political ambition, the role of the individual member in the House of Commons, and the personalised nature of anti-politics in western liberal democracies.

James is particularly interested in mixed methods’ studies of political behaviour. He has experience of fielding experimental surveys, conducting focus groups and elite interviews, designing and evaluating surveys for a range of research purposes, as well as quantitative textual analysis and data visualisation.

James has a secondary research interest in citizenship education and the role of political literacy in both fostering political participation and combatting political inequalities. He has previously carried out survey and focus group research with politicians and teachers from over 60 schools to assess the practice and policy of citizenship education in the UK. This research has informed a number of media appearances on the topic of young people and political participation.

Current Research

James is currently working on a number of research projects:

1. Experimental survey research into construal level theory and the saliency of people’s basic values for a range of participatory political behaviours.

2. James is currently in the scoping phase of a project with the UK Government’s Behavioural Insights Team, which would examine the effect of civil servants’ cognitive biases upon policy making in Whitehall.

3. The mental health of politicians. Following a theoretical publication on the unique stressors of political office, James is collecting new data to explore this framework empirically.

4. James is currently writing up new research on stakeholder responses to the 2018 House of Lord’s report on Citizenship and Civic Engagement. This project utilises focus group data and policy analysis.

5. James is in the midst of designing two new projects to a) re-conceptualise the way that political science defines and measures ‘trust’ in politics, and b) understand the ways in which generalised distrust in politics affects how our politicians govern.


Recently published:

Weinberg, J. (2019): Who’s listening to whom? The UK House of Lords and evidence-based policy-making on citizenship education, Journal of Education Policy,

Weinberg, J. (2019). The Winner Takes It All? A Psychological Study of Political Success among UK Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Affairs,

Weinberg, J. and Flinders, M. (2018). Learning for Democracy: The Practice and Politics of Citizenship Education in the United Kingdom. British Educational Research Journal, Vol. 44(4): 573-592.

Flinders, M., Weinberg, A., Weinberg, J., Geddes, M., and Kwiatkowski, R. (2018). Governing Under Pressure? The Mental Wellbeing of Politicians. Parliamentary Affairs, advance online access.

Weinberg, J. and Flinders, M. (2019). Improving Citizenship Education. In: H. Tam, (ed.) (Feb 2019) Whose Government Is It? The renewal of state-citizen cooperation. Bristol University Press: Policy Press