My research agenda primarily investigates the factors that sustain liberal representative democracy, both at the national and supranational level. The core factors I have explored are: (1) voters’ information levels and motivated reasoning; (2) voters’ support for representative democracy; (3) legislative and electoral institutions; (4) the personal (descriptive) characteristics of legislators (especially gender).
I am working on 5 main research areas:
1. Motivated Reasoning, Information Processing & Accountability
My projects on this topic investigate retrospective voting and the conditions under which voters can hold political agents to account. My published and working papers on this area also explore the causes and consequences of motivated reasoning and selective exposure and processing of information, borrowing from social and cognitive psychology.
- Sorace, M., Hobolt S. B. (2020) A Tale of Two Peoples: Motivated Reasoning in the aftermath of the Brexit Vote Political Science Research and Methods First View 1-18.
- Sorace, M. (2021) Productivity-Based Retrospective Voting: Legislative Productivity and Voting in the 2019 European Parliament Elections. Politics
2. Legislative and Policy Responsiveness
My projects on this topic investigate the link between legislative activity and/or policy and public opinion and the conditions under which politicians respond to public attitudes. My published and working papers on this area also explore the consequences of representation failures for legitimacy and democratic norms.
- Sorace, M. (2018). The European Union democratic deficit: Substantive representation in the European Parliament at the input stage. European Union Politics, 19(1), 3-24
3. Supranational democracy
My projects on this topic empirically test the feasibility of cosmopolitan democracy. International organisations traditionally decide via intergovernmental decision rules and the application of institutions of representative democracy at the supranational level is considered unworkable and futile. The European Union is now closer to a political system than to traditional IOs. My published and working papers evaluate whether EU’s decision making and legislative activities conform to expectations from advanced democracies.
- Sorace, M. (forthcoming) European Parliament: Debating in a Legislature with Competing IncentivesThe Politics of Debate in the European Parliament in: Back, H. et al. Politics of Debate in Democracies, Oxford University Press
- Sorace, M. (2018) Legislative Participation in the EU: An analysis of questions, speeches, motions and declarations in the 7th European Parliament European Union Politics, 19(2) 299–320
4. Gendered Political Behaviour
I am currently working on a working paper on the descriptive substantive link and whether the impact of the descriptive representation of women on substantive legislative activities/policies is contextual or unchanging. This has important implications for our understanding of the socio-psychological roots of gendered behaviour. I am furthermore interested in gender stereotypes and in the issue of gender bias and gender differences in voting behaviour and in political engagement.
5. Democratic Norms and Attitudes
I am currently working on two projects examining the causes of anti-democratic attitudes/norms. I am also working on evaluating democratic innovations, such as deliberative democracy.