My research is in two fields:
1. democratic theory – particularly in relation to democracy and listening. (I’ve started a ‘Listening’ Wiki. Add your quotations, aphorisms, pictures, photographs etc. here: The Listening Wiki).
2. environmental political theory, with particular reference to the relationship between ‘ecologism’ and other modern political ideologies, and to the tensions between environmental sustainability as a social objective, and other objectives such as deepening democracy and increasing social justice.
I am currently working on two projects relating to these areas of research:
1. Democracy and Listening.
It is a striking fact that very little research has been carried out on the role of listening in democratic theory and practice. When we think of democracy we usually think of people speaking, and when we think of improving democratic practices we tend to think of getting more people to speak and getting them to speak better. Whatever conception of democracy we are working with, though, the act and art of listening is (or should be) an integral part of the democratic process. Despite the centrality of listening to democracy, though, sustained political theory research on the topic is rare, and attempts to provide a guide to better practice are rarer still. So my work aims to build on the little research that has been done in three ways: 1) to analyse and explain the dominant attention paid to speech in democratic theory; 2) to survey other disciplines for theories and practices of listening that may be helpful in the democratic context; 3) to analyse and learn from political processes in which listening is and has been an important component – practices of peace and reconciliation, for example – and to combine all this into recommendations for improving the quality of democracy.
An article of mine exploring some of these issues can be found in Political Studies (Vol 58 No 4: 752-768, 2010): Democracy and Nature: speaking and listening
2. The role of nature in the development of modern political theory.
This research will provide the first systematic analysis of the role that nature has played in the development of political theory. Just as women were once invisible to theorists despite the defining role of the category ‘woman’, so ‘nature’ has been crucial to large areas of political theorising, up to and including defining the nature of politics itself.
The outcome will be a fresh perspective on mainstream political theory. The research will be conducted through a chronological analysis of the work of canonical political theorists, combined with a thematic analysis of key concepts such as democracy, identity, property, and ‘politics’ itself.
Some papers relating to this topic can be found via the Work in Progress link on this website’s homepage.
My most recent monograph is Citizenship and the Environment (Oxford University Press, 2003), and I edited Political Theory and the Ecological Challenge (Cambridge University Press, 2006) with Robyn Eckersley.
The 4th edition of my Green Political Thought (Routledge) was published in 2007.
The Spanish translation of my Citizenship and the Environment has been published by Proteus Publishers: Ciudadania y Medio Ambiente (2010).