by Stephen Wenham
6th December 2021

From international organizations to the governance of cities, Bristol University Press’s publishing in politics covers contemporary issues in democracy, power and governance at all levels. Here Stephen Wenham, Publisher for Politics and International Relations, brings you his highlights in this area from the list.

“Governments have a convenient habit of blaming social problems on their citizens – something that was keenly felt during the pandemic. In It’s the Government, Stupid, Keith Dowding challenges the assumed wisdom about the relationship between government and citizens to show why we should expect more from our elected representatives and where (not) to place the blame for social problems. Watch a webinar about the book here.

Keeping citizens and their participation firmly at the front and centre, Nicole Curato et al. provide cutting edge accounts of how they can be more involved in the democratic decision making in Deliberative Mini-Publics: Core Design Features. This important book examines the features of a Deliberative Mini-Public (DMP) and considers how DMPs link into democratic systems. In Why Citizen Participation Succeeds or Fails, Matt Ryan presents his landmark comparative review of participatory budgeting and reveals the factors behind its success in achieving democratic engagement.

The analysis of democracy and participation in contemporary times continues with Marcial Bragadini Boo’s The Rules of Democracy and Timothy Stacey’s Saving Liberalism from Itself. These books provide thought-provoking accounts of how we can renew our democracies to help guard against the encroachment of more authoritarian and populist tendencies.


These tendencies are analysed in detail in Natasha Lindstaedt’s ground-breaking textbook Democratic Decay and Authoritarian Resurgence, which introduces students to the concept and causes of democratic decay in the modern world, illustrating the integral link between public commitment to democratic norms and the maintenance of healthy democracies. Listen to Natasha talk about the main themes of this book in this podcast: Why do democracies fall apart?

The more subtle threat that can be posed to democracy by contemporary forms of technocracy is examined by Anders Esmark in The New Technocracy. Setting a new benchmark for studies of technocracy, this book shows that a solution to the challenge of populism will depend as much on a technocratic retreat as democratic innovation.

Jack Corbett et al. examine governance and power in international organizations, asking what role small states can hope to play in these, in International Organizations and Small States. They find that the strategies which both IOs and small states adopt to balance their respective dilemmas can explain both continuity and change in their interactions with institutions ranging from UN agencies to the World Trade Organization. Meanwhile, in Is Europe Good for You?, Lisa Dellmuth provides a fascinating account of the difference EU governance can make to health and well-being outcomes at the local level.

Continuing on the difference government choices make, in Varieties of Austerity Heather Whiteside et al provide a powerful account of the economic, social, and political implications of austerity around the world. Adding to thinking about how the era of austerity politics influences urban governance today, Jonathan Davies provides a stirring account of the theory and practice of governance and resistance at the local level in Between Realism and Revolt.

Finally, I’d like to recommend two volumes of collected essays by Andrew Gamble – After Brexit and Other Essays and The Western Ideology and Other Essays.– which provide deep insight and outstanding reflections on many of the issues above. As Matthias Matthijs from Johns Hopkins University and Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC says, “no one is as insightful an observer of Britain’s post-war political economy as Andrew Gamble.” Watch the launch event for this book here.

I hope these and all of the books on Bristol University Press’s Politics and International Relations list support scholars and interested readers to grapple with the complex and ever-changing political issues of our time.”

If you are interested in writing for our Politics and International Relations list, please contact Stephen at or visit our information for authors page to download our proposal guidelines.


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