Politics and International Studies


Phil Parvin BA, MA, PhD

Photo of  Phil Parvin

Senior Lecturer in Politics

Director of Research


I am Director of Research for Politics & International Studies and Chair of the Ethics in Public Life Research Group. I am also a member of the Executive Committee of the Britain and Ireland Association for Political Thought, an Associate Editor of Res Publica, and a former Director of the Centre for the Study of International Governance.

I have a BA from the University of Kent, an MA from the University of York, and a PhD from the London School of Economics. Before coming to Loughborough I was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Politics and International Studies, Cambridge University, and a Fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. I have also taught at Queen Mary University of London, and the London School of Economics. I have twice been a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley (2009 and 2013). In 2018 I was Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford, and Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Social Justice, Oxford. During the summer of 2018 I was also Visiting Researcher at Nuffield College, Oxford. I held a Leverhulme Research Fellowship during the academic year 2012-2013 during which I worked on a number of projects on the broad topic of political disengagement, democratic decline, and political lobbying in liberal democratic states.

In addition to my academic posts, I was also a Director at the Hansard Society, and a Research Associate for the think tank Catalyst.

My specialist field is political theory, although I also publish in the fields of democratic theory, British politics, and public policy.

I have written two books. My first, on the political thought of Karl Popper, was published in hardback by Continuum Press in 2010, and then in paperback by Bloomsbury in 2013. A Korean translation of the book was published in 2014. The book explores the influence of Popper's work on liberal and conservative political thought, and locates his work within contemporary debates in Anglo-American political philosophy and social thought. It critically assesses Popper's work, and draws upon the work of other thinkers and political philosophers in order to evaluate his place in the wider liberal and conservative traditions and the contribution his ideas make to wider normative debates about freedom, equality, and social justice.

My second book, co-written with Clare Chambers, is Political Philosophy: A Complete Introduction, published by Hodder in 2012. It is an introductory text book aimed at providing undergraduate and graduate students new to political philosophy with a foundation in the major debates which have shaped the discipline. 

I have also written over 25 articles for peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes on a range of topics, including social justice, markets, multiculturalism, and migration, as well as nearly 40 essays, review essays, policy reports, and online pieces for policy makers and political practitioners.

My research reflects my wider interest in the way political theory and political practice interact.For example, I have published on topics such localism, governance, political disengagement, and lobbying, as well as multiculturalism, redistribution, and liberal justice. 

My current research tackles the challenges posed to democratic theory and practice by changing patterns of civic and political participation. Many liberal democratic states throughout the world are characterised by declining rates of citizen participation, a decline in traditional civic and associational life, low levels of political knowledge among citizens, and a breakdown in many of the norms and forms of behaviour that a lot of democratic theorists believe to be crucial to the health of democracy. They are also defined by the rise in the number and influence of unelected lobby groups of one kind or another, which have merged to fill the vacuum created by the absence of citizens. Yet these groups are under-theorised in mainstream democratic theory, which focuses on the relationship between states and citizens. My work tries to better theorise the appropriate role of unelected lobby groups in contemporary democracies, and argues for a re-conception of democracy which better fits the disengaged times in which we live.

I am currently writing a book entitled Hidden in Plain Site: Dark Money, Representation, and Power in 21st Century Democracy.

I currently teach on three modules: EUA001 Smart Scholarship, EUA801 Power, Politics and Ideology in Modern Europe, and EUC660 Contemporary Political Philosophy.

Political Philosophy: A complete introduction

The book is designed to give you everything you need to succeed, all in one place. It covers the key areas that students are expected to be confident in, outlining the basics in clear jargon-free English, and then providing added-value features like summaries of key thinkers, and even lists of questions you might be asked in your seminar or exam.

(Hodder, 2012)

Phil Parvin and Clare Chambers

See more about the book on the Amazon website

Political Philosophy: A complete introduction

Karl Popper

Major Conservative and Libertarian Thinkers

Paperback: Bloomsbury, 2013. Hardback: Continuum Press, 2010;

Phil Parvin

See more about the book on the Amazon website

Karl Popper

Neglecting Democracy

Participation & Representation in 21st Century Britain, 2nd Edition

2006, Hansard Society

Phil Parvin and D. McHugh.

Download (PDF): Neglecting Democracy pamphlet

Neglecting Democracy

Friend or Foe

Lobbying in British Democracy 

Hansard Society, 2007

Phil Parvin

Download the paper (PDF) here: Friend or Foe pamphlet

Friend or Foe

Recent publications

Current and forthcoming academic publications include:


  • Karl Popper (Hardback: Continuum Press, 2010; Paperback: Bloomsbury, 2013).
  • Political Philosophy: A Complete Introduction (Hodder, 2012).

Articles and Book Chapters

  • "Theories of Social Justice," in G. Craig (ed.) Global Handbook on Social Justice (London: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018). 
  • "Representing the People: British Democracy in an Age of Political Ignorance", Political Studies Review (2018)Published online: http://bit.ly/2pgkBCQ.
  • "The Ethics of Political Participation: Democracy and Engagement in the 21st Century’, Res Publica 24/1 (2017). Published online: http://bit.ly/2DtWo1P
  • "Democracy Without Participation: A New Politics for a Disengaged Era’, Res Publica 24/1 (2017)Published online: http://bit.ly/2j5rZ1q
  • ‘Democracy, Capital, and the Rise of the New Inequality’, Political Theory. Published online: http://bit.ly/2hH4iPl (2017).
  • “Silencing the Critics: Lobbyists, Charities, and the Government’s Quiet War on Dissent,” Renewal 24/3 (2016).
  • “Idealism, Realism, and Immigration: David Miller’s Strangers In Our Midst,” Critical Review of International, Social, and Political Philosophy 19/7 (2016).
  • “Is Deliberative Democracy Feasible? Political Disengagement and Trust in Liberal Democratic States”, The Monist 98/4 (2015).
  • “What kind of dialogue do we need? Gender, deliberation and comprehensive values” in Jude Browne (ed.) Dialogue, Ethics and Gender Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2013). With C. Chambers.
  • “Modernism’s legacy: Dialogue, objectivity, and justice in Mark Bevir’s Democratic GovernanceLocal Government Studies 38/1 (2012).
  • “The rationalist tradition and the problem of induction: Karl Popper’s rejection of epistemological optimism”, The History of European Ideas, 37/3 (2011).
  • “Localism and the left: the need for strong central government”, Renewal19/2(2011).
  • “Coercive redistribution and public agreement: re-evaluating the libertarian challenge of charity”, Critical Review of International, Social, and Political Philosophy 13/1 (2010). With C. Chambers. Re-printed in M. Matravers & L. Meyers (eds) Democracy, Equality, and Justice (Routledge, 2010).
  • “Identity and integration in an international context: Problems and ambiguities in the new politics of multiculturalism”, Political Studies Review 7/3(2009).
  • “Against localism: Does decentralising power to communities fail minorities?” The Political Quarterly 80/3 (2009).
  • “What’s special about culture? Identity, autonomy, and public reason”, Critical Review of International, Social, and Political Philosophy 11/3 (2008).
  • “Defending representative democracy: Political parties and the future of political engagement in the UK”, Parliamentary Affairs 58/3 (2005). With D. McHugh 

Commentary, Online, and Policy Work

  • "Can There Be a Democracy For the Real World?", Political Studies Association (April, 2018). Available: https://bit.ly/2HqSFat
  • "Citizen Centred Theory is Dead, Long Live Citizen Centred Theory! It’s Time We Designed a Politics for Citizens as they Really Are, Not How We’d Like Them to Be," Democratic Audit Blog (March, 2018). https://bit.ly/2GFtUo4 
  • "How Can NGOs Lobby Effectively to Impact the Policy Agenda? Live Q&A", The Guardian (March, 2015). https://bit.ly/2HwbHfH
  •  “Democracy and the Lobbying Bill”, LSE British Politics and Policy Blog, January, 2014. Available here.
  • “Power to the people or entrenching inequality?” Public Servant, Nov. 2010, p. 13.
  • “New politics and public services – localism or lottery?” Sept. 2010. Online debate hosted by the Speakers Corner Trust. Available here.
  • Friend or Foe? Lobbying in British Democracy (Hansard Society, 2007).
  • Neglecting Democracy: Participation & Representation in 21st Century Britain, 2nd Edition (Hansard Society, 2006). With D. McHugh.
  • “Religion must be debated like anything else” in The Voice, May 2006.
  • “Political Participation: the difference between talking and acting”, E-Gov Monitor, March 2006. With D. McHugh.
  • “Declining democracy?” in Whitehall & Westminster World, May 2005.
  • “Problems with authority?” in Public Affairs News, Feb 2005.