This Centre brings together researchers whose work broadly falls within the areas of democracy and human rights.
We live in an age when democracy is regarded by many authorities as an incontestable and philosophically uncontested good, but when human rights are perennially under threat, currently as a by-product, for example, of the 'war on terrorism'. For democracy to be considered the common sense of the age at the same time as it has put down only shallow roots, where it has any roots at all, is richly indicative of the role of ideology and political changes such as the collapse of Communist regimes since 1989.
These are among the reasons why democracy and human rights are central areas of concern for the study of politics and contemporary history. Students of political science cannot get very far without encountering them as theoretical and historical problems, as well as matters of contemporary political salience and current affairs. Colleagues in sociology working in criminology, radical political thought, and ethnic/religious minority rights are also focused in this area of research. The new centre links up with the Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice in the School of Health Sciences and other groups within the University.
Clearly the study of human rights and democracy must include the investigation of the meaning of these categories as well as the conditions that support and undermine them in their several variants. This considerably enlarges the scope of the Research Centre and is reflected in its composition. It brings together researchers on human rights, democracy, the state, social democracy, political corruption, gender equality, post-Communist parties, radical social theory, Islamism, globalization, labour markets, international political economy and political communications.
Staff from Politics and Contemporary History teach on the MA courses in International Relations and Globalization; and Terrorism and Security.