$$News and Reports$$
Nov. 22, 2022

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The European Research Council, one of the most prestigious grant making institutions in the world, has awarded Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Prof. Jennifer Oser (pictured below) an ERC Starting Grant.  
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Photo credit: Jordan Cassaway

Prof. Jennifer Oser's project addresses the question of how people incorporate increasingly prevalent nonelectoral political acts, such as protest, into individual-level repertoires of participation; and how well represented these different types of political participators are. At a time of growing concern about unequal representation in democracies, two conflicting global trends over the last several decades highlight the importance of these questions: a clear decline in voter turnout, especially among lower status groups; and evidence of increased nonelectoral participation, especially among higher status groups. 

To assess how these trends in political participation affect patterns of representation, Participation and Representation in the Digital Age: Participation Repertoires in an Era of Unequal Representation (PRD)'s theoretical framework integrates new approaches for investigating the links between individuals' participation repertoires (i.e., how individuals combine voting, protest, online activism) and objective and subjective representational outcomes. 

"My project is motivated by a curious trend in political participation, in the past few decades, worldwide. We know that voting has decreased while non-electoral participation, like protest, has increased. A main concern is that these trends may contribute to unequal representation. But, at the moment, we know surprisingly little about this participation-representation connection, even though we know that more and more people are taking to the streets. Since these trends coincide with new evidence of worrying backsliding in democratic functioning, this is an ideal moment to launch this project on participation and representation in the digital age" explains Prof. Oser. 

By combining an original theoretical framework and methodological innovations, PRD will conduct a uniquely comprehensive empirical investigation of participation repertoires, with a focus on mechanisms that can reduce inequalities in participation and representation. 

Prof. Oser is an associate professor in the Department of Politics and Government​ at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. 

Her research focuses on the relationships between public opinion, political participation, and policy outcomes. Specific topics within this broad interest include participatory inequality, citizenship norms and values, online political behavior, and the linkage mechanisms between citizen participation and policymaking. 

ERC Starting Grants are highly competitive and offer 1.5 million Euro over five years with an additional 1 million Euro available for startup costs.  

408 researchers were awarded grants out of nearly 3,000 proposals.  

Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “We are proud that we are empowering younger researchers to follow their curiosity. These new ERC laureates bring a remarkable wealth of scientific ideas, they will certainly further our knowledge and some already have practical applications in sight. I wish them all the best of luck with their explorations."  

President of the European Research Council Prof. Maria Leptin said: “It is a pleasure to see this new group of bright minds at the start of their careers, set to take their research to new heights. I cannot emphasise enough that Europe as a whole - both at national and at EU level - has to continue to back and empower its promising talent. We must encourage young researchers who are led by sheer curiosity to go after their most ambitious scientific ideas. Investing in them and their frontier research is investing in our future."  

This grant follows another ERC Starting Grant to Dr. Yair Hartman and an ERC Synergy Grant to Prof. Ehud Meron and an international consortium.