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Dr James Dawson

Lecturer in Politics

Faculty of Arts and Humanities

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Dr Dawson is module leader of BA modules Politics in Action (level 4), Comparative Politics (level 5) and Nationalism and Democratisation in Post-Communist Europe (level 6). He also serves as BA Dissertation module leader for History, Politics and International Relations and contributes teaching to MA modules Populism in the 21st Century and Dictatorship and Democracy.

He is interested in supervising doctoral students working on themes relating to the politics of Central and Eastern Europe.

Career overview

James moved to Coventry University in 2018 from King’s College London, where he had lectured in Politics and International Relations since 2015. He holds a PhD in Political Science from UCL (awarded in 2013), where he also served as Director of MSc Democracy and Comparative Politics from 2013-15.


Dr Dawson’s research has focussed on the challenges of democratization in Central and Eastern Europe with a particular emphasis on the clash of liberal and progressive norms on the one hand and ethnic nationalist and pro-authoritarian ideas on the other. His recent work has been published in the Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of Democracy, East European Politics and Nationalities Papers and he is the author of one monograph – Cultures of Democracy in Serbia and Bulgaria: How Ideas Shape Publics (2014; paperback 2016), which was awarded the BASEES George Blazyca Prize. Consistent with his analytical focus on the spread of ideas, he uses methodologies such as sociological surveys, ethnography and discursive institutionalism.

External activities

He has appeared as a pundit on BBC Radio 4 and Euronews, as well as delivering invited lectures for Royal College of Defence Studies and Serbian Political science Association. He has also written numerous journalistic articles for Foreign Policy magazine, Open Democracy, Balkan Insight and others.

Publications and press


  • Cultures of Democracy in Serbia and Bulgaria: How Ideas Shape Publics’, Routledge, 2014; paperback 2016. Winner of BASEES George Blazyca Prize 2014 (Award citation).

Journal articles

Book (Edited Volume)

  • Rethinking democratic backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe – looking beyond Hungary and Poland’, (edited with Licia Cianetti and Seán Hanley), Routledge, 2019.

Journalistic articles (selected)

  • Liberals Against Nationalism in Central Europe? It Would Have Been a Nice Idea” (with Seán Hanley), Open Democracy, 26th July 2018.
  • Poland Was Never as Democratic as It Looked: The EU’s membership conditions only dressed up illiberal societies in democrats' clothing. Now we’re seeing the fallout.” (with Seán Hanley), Foreign Policy (US), 3rd Jan 2017. Over 3000 shares.
  • Has liberalism gone missing in East Central Europe, or has it always been absent?” (with Seán Hanley), Open Democracy, 5th Oct 2015.
  • Bulgaria's new coalition: a rainbow without colours”, Open Democracy, 24th Nov. 2014.
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