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The Phelan US Centre PhD Summer Research Grants

Our Summer Research Grants aim to encourage innovative research on the United States and to support students pursuing postgraduate research.

"My research would have simply not been possible without the Summer Research Grant"

Katherina Lawall - 2019-20 Grant Recipient

Our summer research grants aim to encourage innovative research on the United States and to support students pursuing postgraduate research on topics related to the Centre’s overall mission of promoting internationally-oriented scholarship on America’s changing role in the world. The Summer Grant scheme is open to all LSE PhD students who are conducting US-related research, however, research proposals should fall under one of the US Centre’s core research themes. The 2021-22 academic year marks the fourth year of the Summer Grant scheme.   

The grants provide support to the development of early career scholars at the LSE while also aiming to help with research activities including data collection, field work, and designing and implementing a survey. The grants are not intended for language study or purchasing equipment. The award will be for one year and will be £2500. £1500 of the grant will be given up front and the further £1000 when the report is submitted. 

Read the donor report of the successes of the 2018-19 programme. For more information on previous years' research projects click here.


2020-21 Research Projects

1. Group-orientated politics: Using group identities and orientations to better understand and predict vote choice, perceptions of candidates, and election results.

Denise Baron, Department of Methodology

Among both Democrats and Republicans, the current levels of gender and racial representationin the US Congress are unprecedented. Despite an increase in diverse representation, people of colour and women face particular challenges as political candidates, especially in terms of controlling and shaping their public images. While previous research has investigated the role of demographic traits or partisan affiliation in shaping perceptions of politicians, the role of candidates’ ideology, specifically group orientations such as national identity, authoritarianism, and egalitarianism, is less clear. This study investigates the relative influence of political candidates’ various attributes, including demographics and ideology, on how voters perceive them, importantly assessing how multiple identities can intersect and produce positive or negative perceptions. Using a conjoint experiment, we investigate the causal relationship between voters’ group orientations and their perceptions of candidates of varying identities and ideologies.

Read the final report of Denise's summer grant project here.

2. Populism in parties, politicians and public opinion

Julia Leschke, Department of Government

To succeed in elections, parties and politicians adapt different strategies of framing the current divisionsin society – reaching from the extremist right-wing illiberal populism of Trump, over the socially liberal and unifying appeals of Biden, to the left-wing populist rhetoric of Sanders or Ocasio-Cortez. But how exactly do political parties and actors in the US and Western Europe persuade voters to support their pluralist, radical left- or right-wing worldviews in times of entrenched political polarization? And who are these voters which find extremist, illiberal or anti-establishment appeals so enticing? My PhD seeks to answer these questions by creating and analyzing an unprecedently rich and fine-grained dataset of political communication of more than 6.2 million speeches from the US Congress and multiple West European parliaments, along with almost 900 election manifestos covering the last 60 years. 

Read the final report of Julia's summer grant project here.

3. The interaction of health, aging, housing and public finance in the USA

Nilesh Raut, Department of Health Policy

My thesis aims at investigating how health, aging, housing, and public finance interact in the US. The first chapter of my thesis attempts to investigate the impact of Deficit Reduction Act 2005 on the uptake of (Medicaid) and private long-term care insurance in the US and identifies that DRA2005 saved $36 per 65 years old individual. The second chapter identifies the impact of housing and financial wealth on public and private insurance in the US. The third chapter investigates the effect of Affordable care act’s Medicaid expansion on the mental wellbeing of spousal caregivers in the US. The fourth chapter plans to identify how the social housing in the US impacts the nursing home care utilization/admissions. Nursing home care in the US is expensive and can result in welfare loss of individual if not planned properly.

Read the final report of Nilesh's summer grant project here.

4. The political economy of European competition policy

Tommaso Crescioli, European Institute

In my doctoral research, I have been using Philippon’s (2019) same OECD (2021) data to show that the Great Reversal may be industry-specific. In some industries, US profit margins have neither increased nor are they higher than in Europe (see graphs). An industry-based approach may thereforebe relevant to understand changes in American antitrust policy. The leading federal competition authorities, the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), supervise different sectors. Furthermore, their design differs: the DoJ is part of the executive branch, whereasthe FTC is an independent agency making it more similar to the EU regulator. This peculiar setup of American antitrust is the background to the questions I want to answer in this research project: Does antitrust enforcement change depending on the competition authorities responsible? Do differences in antitrust enforcement impact competition in different sectors?

Read the final report of Tommaso's summer grant project here.

5. (Un) certainty and (in)action: disentangling perceptions of repression and ‘No Dissent’ using terror and horror

Agnes Yu, Department of International Relations 

The US recorded over 10,600 protests events between May-August 2020, centred around the Black Lives Matter movement catalyzed by the killing of George Floyd. The government response was disproportionately forceful, with President Trump first threatening then applying militarized federal forces against demonstrators in places such as Seattle, Portland, Oregon, and Washington DC. Underthis context, this project aims to develop a theoretical and methodological framework to understandhow repression deters protest in the US. How do perceptions of state repression affect protest non-participation, and under what conditions? What are the wider implications for how dissent occurs and how (democratic) states choose to repress?

6. From the individual to the system and back again: bridging the gap between deconsumption and degrowth for a sustainable path forward

Dallas O’Dell, Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science

Scholars have identified the need to connect strong sustainable consumption (SSC), including individual level deconsumption behaviours, with macro-level strategies for societal transformation such as degrowth. However, the discussion has been mostly conceptual, with little to no empirical evidence. There is also limited research on psychological and behavioural barriers and levers to deconsumption preferences and behaviours, and how these may inform behavioural interventions to promote SSC. In my doctoral dissertation, I aim to address this missing link between individual adoption of deconsumption behaviours on the micro-level and support for degrowth at the macro-level. This question is particularly relevant to the US, with the highest GDP and second highest emissions globally, necessitating immediate curbs to prevent global climate disaster.