Emily West is an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Pittsburgh. She is a scholar of political behavior whose research focuses on the politics of identity, including gender, race, class and partisanship, primarily in the context of U.S. politics, but often generalizing to Comparative contexts. The central motivation of this work is to better understand the democratic implications of identity politics with two strands of research, the first on descriptive representation and the second on bias and discrimination. In applying core concepts from psychology and political science, Emily’s research contributes to long-standing theoretical debates and engages contemporary questions about identity that are of interest to a wide range of audiences. Emily’s research has been published or is forthcoming in the Journal of Politics, Political Science Research and Methods, and Political Behavior.
While in residence at CSDP, Emily will pursue two related research projects. The first on-going project seeks to understand the micro-mechanisms underlying support for right-wing populist rhetoric within the context of globalization and rising economic inequality in the U.S. and Europe. The project synthesizes concepts across multiple areas of social science in order to develop a micro-foundational theory linking economic inequality to differential feelings of relative deprivation among historically privileged and non-privileged groups. In this way, the work traces the links between a macro-level economic variable and micro-level psychological processes in order to explain increased support for exclusionary rhetoric and right-wing populist candidates. Time permitting, Emily will work on a second related project, which again focuses on exclusionary attitudes, this time to explain the increasing levels of partisan polarization and feelings of out-group animosity among the American constituency. Using multiple modes of data collection, the project will shed light on the nature of exclusionary attitudes along partisan lines, documenting how these attitudes lead to the degradation of civic discourse.