Research Fellow: Katharine Dommett

Dr Katharine Dommett, BA (Hons), MA (Distinction), PhD (University of Sheffield) Katharine Dommett

Research Fellow

Telephone: +44 (0)114 222 1708
Room: 108b



Katharine joined the Department in August 2012 as a Research Fellow on the ESRC funded project ‘Shrinking the State’. She completed her doctorate in 2012 which explored ideology, processes of ideological change and modernisation in relation to contemporary political parties (University of Sheffield).

Katharine’s research interests focus primarily upon the intersection between ideas, institutions and actors. These themes have inspired an interest in ideology, political parties, political rhetoric, political communication, parliament and governance. Katharine also has a keen interest in themes of democratic disengagement and participation, interests she explores in her capacity as Deputy Director of the Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics.

Current Research

My research focuses on three main areas:

  • Political Parties and Ideology
  • Governance and Public Bodies
  • Participation and Engagement

I am currently working on an ESRC-funded project entitled ‘Shrinking the State: Reforming Arm's Length Bodies in an Age of Austerity'. This is a collaborative project between the University of Sheffield, the University of Birmingham and the University of Southern California. The project explores the current British Coalition Government’s attempt to reform arms’ length bodies, from multi-level and cross-national perspectives; and asks whether and to what extent reform of these ‘quangos’ will deliver the policy goal of a smaller, smarter, cheaper state.

I am also working on a range of projects exploring the role of political parties and politicians in contemporary politics. This includes a focus on the political and ideological rhetoric deployed by parties, change in political parties, and contemporary analysis of parties’ fortunes.

In my capacity as Deputy Director of the Crick Centre I am also developing a suite of training courses designed to equip academics with the skills by which to communicate their research to a range of different audiences. For more information see:


  • with Matthew Flinders, (available online), ‘The Politics and Management of Public Expectations: Gaps, Vacuums and the 2012 Mayoral Referenda’, British Politics.
  • Dommett. K, (2013), ‘A Miserable Little Compromise: Exploring Liberal Democrat Fortunes in the UK Coalition’, Political Quarterly, Volume 8(2): 218-227.
  • with Matthew Flinders, (2013), ‘Gap Analysis: Participatory Democracy, Public Expectations and Community Assemblies in Sheffield’ in Local Government Studies, Volume 39(4): 488-513.
  • Dommett. K, (forthcoming), ‘Rhetoric and Party Politics: Looking Beyond the Leader’ in Atkins. J, Finlayson. A, Martin. J, and Turnbull. N, Rhetoric in British Politics and Society, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
  • Dommett. K, (forthcoming), ‘Clown Prince or Party Saviour? Exploring the Oratory of Boris Johnson’ in R. Hayton and A. Crines (eds.) Orators in Conservative Party Politics, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Other Recent Research Activities

Practitioner focused Research Activities:

  • (November 2012), Triennial Reviews and Public Bodies Reform in the UK, Research Report.
  • with Matthew Flinders, Chris Skelcher and Katherine Tonkiss (July 2013), Public Bodies Reform by the UK Government 2010-2013: Initial Findings, Preliminary Project Report, available at
  • (29 May 2013), Discussant on Panel ‘Policy Coordination and Integration for Cross-Sectoral Issues’, Association of Chief Executives of State Agencies Conference on ‘Excellence in Public Service Delivery: Agencies’ Role in Shaping the Future’, Dublin.
  • (20 February 2013) Blog: ‘Triennial Reviews of Public Bodies: Three Big Questions for the Government’, Guardian Public Leaders Network.
  • (December 2012), Written and Oral Evidence presented to The Lords Constitution Committee inquiry into ‘The Pre-Emption of Parliament’, 13th report of Session 2012-13, HL Paper 165.
  • (October 2012), Written evidence provided to the Public Administration Select Committee inquiry into Civil Service Reform.

Publically focused Research Activities:

  • (5 November 2013), Presentation: ‘Language and Politics in Local Campaigning’, Broomhill Labour Party.
  • (3 October 2013), Presentation: ‘Reflections on Public Bodies Reform’, Public Bodies Reform and Order-Making Under the PBS 2011 Workshop, Cabinet Office, 1 Horse Guards Road.
  • (25 September 2013), Blog: ‘Ed Miliband’s speech a lesson in split personality politics’, The Conversation.
  • (19 September 2013), Presentation: ‘Language, Politics and Ideology’, Sheffield Fabian Society
  • (6 August 2013) Blog: ‘A Miserable Little Compromise: Why the Liberal Democrats have Suffered in Coalition’, LSE British Politics and Policy.
  • (5 July 2013), Article: ‘It’s Too Easy to Blame the Big, Bad Quangos’, Yorkshire Post.

I have also appeared twice on BBC Radio Wales to discuss the fortunes of the Coalition Government.

Academically focused Research Activities:

  • (December 2013), Article: ‘Embedding Impact and Engagement’, Political Insight.
  • (17 September 2013), Conference Paper: ‘Protecting the Legacy of Reform: Triennial Reviews and the Management of Public Bodies’, Policy & Politics Conference entitled ‘The Future of the State in the 21st Century’, University of Bristol.
  • (26 March 2013), Conference Paper: ‘Agency Responses to Termination Threats: A Strategic-relational Theory of Quango Reform in UK government’, Political Studies Association Conference, Cardiff.
  • (September 2012), Conference Paper: 'The Politics and Management of Public Expectations: Gaps, Vacuums and the 2012 Mayoral Referenda' presented at the 40 years of Policy & Politics Conference entitled 'Critical reflections and strategies for the future’, University of Bristol.

Professional Activities

Katharine is a member of the Political Studies Association (PSA), the Conservatives and Conservatism PSA Subgroup and the Rhetoric and Politics Society of the UK.