Personal profile

Research interests

Peter Allen joined PoLIS as Reader in Comparative Politics from Queen Mary University of London in September 2017. He is Director of Research in PoLIS. From 2020-23, he was a member of the University Senate elected from from Academic Assembly. For 2019-20, he was a Trustee of the Political Studies Association. He previously worked at Bath in 2013-4. He was also a 2016-7 AHRC International Placement Fellow at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and is an Associate Member of the Centre for Democratic Engagement at the University of Leeds.

He works primarily on issues around political representation and the question of who holds positions of political power and influence in society. From 2016-2018 he was the Principal Investigator of the ESRC Future Research Leaders project Born Politicians: Testing Multiple Explanations of in Political Ambition in Modern Britain which examines why some people are more likely than others to put themselves forward as candidates for political office. He was also a team member of the ESRC-funded Representative Audit of Britain and has had other research funded by the British Academy and the AHRC.

His first book, The Political Class: Why It Matters Who Our Politicians Are was published by Oxford University Press in April 2018. In the book he shows that our politicians are currently largely drawn from limited sections of society, reflecting patterns of wider social and economic inequality. He goes on to argue that having a more diverse political class would not only better reflect democratic principles of equality, but would also result in more legitimate political outcomes. It has been positively reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement and Irish Times, among others.

His other research looks at the effectiveness of gender quotas, their effects on public opinion towards women in politics, at the experiences of women in political life, how powerful interests shape what is seen to constitute valid or useful political knowledge, and how some political experiences confound our efforts to make rational decisions about them.

He regularly discusses his work in the media and often provides consultancy for various think-tanks, businesses, and interest groups.

Willing to supervise doctoral students

I am willing to supervise PhD students undertaking research on:

  • political representation
  • political ambition
  • political attitudes and knowledge

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities


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