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Giovanni Capoccia

Giovanni Capoccia

(MA, Laurea Rome I, PhD EUI)

Professor of Comparative Politics, Fellow, Corpus Christi College
Comparative Politics and Government
(01865) 276752
Corpus Christi College
Office Address:
Fellows' Building, 2, 8

Giovanni Capoccia is Professor of Comparative Politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations and Fellow in Politics at Corpus Christi College.

Research Interests

Prof. Capoccia’s research focuses on the comparative study of democracy and democratization, political institutions, political extremism, and European politics.

A major theme of his research is the analysis of the causes and consequences of the strategies used by democratic governments to control extremist dissent. His comparative work on inter-war Europe has been published in several journals and a research monograph entitled Defending Democracy (Johns Hopkins University Press 2005, paperback 2007), which received the APSA Award for the Best Book in European Politics. He is the co-editor of the collection The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies, published as a double special issue of Comparative Political Studies in 2010. The volume reassesses the historical process of European democratization and proposes a new research agenda for the study of democratization in Europe and elsewhere, focused on the dynamics of institutional change. His current project, provisionally titled Reshaping Democracy after Authoritarianism addresses the question of why postwar Western democracies have adopted different policy responses to the extreme right. One paper from the project received the APSA Sage Award for the Best Paper in Comparative Politics presented at the Annual Meeting.

Capoccia’s work on the theory and methodology of comparative analysis, institutionalism, and comparative democratization, has earned him several other publication prizes, including the Sage Award for the Best Paper in Qualitative Methods; the Alexander George Award for the Best Article Developing and Applying Qualitative and Multiple Methods; the Award for the Best Paper in Comparative Democratization; the Sage Award on the Best Paper in Comparative Politics; and the Mary Parker Follett Award for the Best Article in Politics and History, all from the American Political Science Association.

Capoccia has held a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship, and a Leverhume Trust Major Research Fellowship, as well as visiting positions in several academic institutions including the University of Heidelberg, the University of California at Berkeley, the Max-Planck-Institute in Comparative Law (Heidelberg), the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard, where he was the Rita E. Hauser Fellow. His research has been funded by the British Academy, the German Foundation for Academic Exchanges, the Nuffield Foundation, and several other national and international organizations. More information at https://users.ox.ac.uk/~ssfc0073/index.html

Professor Capoccia welcomes inquiries from potential graduate students interested in pursuing MPhil or doctoral projects on democratization, political extremism in democracies, democratic backsliding, and transitional justice, in particular in the context of European political development.

Government Citizenship Constitutions and Government Democratic theory Democracy and Democratisation Elections History Institutions and organisations Methods Normative theory



Case Study Research (graduate seminar) (2007-present)

Research Design in Comparative Politics (graduate lectures) (2007-)

Comparative Government core course (M.Phil. in Comparative Government-- 2003-current)

Comparative Methodology (graduate lectures) (2002-2005)

Comparative European Politics core course (M.Phil. in European Politics and Society) (2001-2003)



Lectures, Party systems and coalition-making in Western Europe (Paper 206: The Politics and Government of Western Europe).


Department Administrative Roles

Course provider, The Politics and Government of Western Europe (2002-2006), Comparative Government (2012-2014)

Graduate Examiners’ Board, 2002-2005; 2011-2014

Director of Research, 2007-2011

Chair of Graduate Examiners, 2013-2014

Director, MPhil in Comparative Government, 2017-2019

Convenor, Comparative Politics Research Network, 2020-2022




The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies, double special issue of Comparative Political Studies, August-September 2010, Vol. 43, 8/9 (co-edited with D. Ziblatt).

Defending Democracy: Reactions to extremism in Interwar Europe, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005, pages 352 (paperback, 2007)

[2006 Best Book in European Politics, American Political Science Association]

Unified Germany between Continuity and Renewal. The German Electoral and Party System during the Process of National Reunification (in Italian), Rome, Bulzoni, 1995, pages 490.

Selected articles and book chapters

"Democracy and Retribution: Transitional Justice and Regime Support in Post-War West Germany" (with G. Pop-Eleches), Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 53, n. 3/4, March 2020, pp. 399-433.

"Militant Democracy and the Study of Political Tolerance", in Kirshner, Alexander, and Anthoula Malkopoulou (eds.), Militant Democracy and its Critics. Populism, Parties, Extremism, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2019, pp. 133-149.

"When Do Institutions Bite? Historical Institutionalism and the Politics of Institutional Change", Comparative Political Studies, 2016, 49/8, 1095-1127.

“Critical Junctures”, in Fioretos, O., Falleti, T. and A. Sheingate, eds., Oxford Handbook on Historical Institutionalism, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016, 95-108

“Critical Junctures and Institutional Change”, in Mahoney, J. and K. Thelen, eds., Advances in Comparative Historical Analysis, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015, 147-179.

“The Study of Democratization and the Arab Spring” (with A. Ahmed), Middle East Law and Governance, 6, 1, 2014, 1-39.

Militant Democracy: The Institutional Bases of Democratic Self-Preservation, Annual Review of Law and Social Sciences, 9, 2013, 207-226.

When State Responses Fail: Religion and Secessionism in India 1952-2002 (with L.D.Saez and E. de Rooij), The Journal of Politics, October 2012, Vol. 74, 4, 1010-1022.

The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies: A New Research Agenda for Europe and Beyond, Comparative Political Studies, August-September 2010, Vol. 43, 8/9, 931-968.

[2011 Best Article in Politics and History, American Political Science Association]

[2010 Best Paper in Comparative Democratization, American Political Science Association]

Germanys Response to 9/11: The Persistence of Constitutional Traditions, in M. Crenshaw (ed.) The Consequences of Counterterrorist Policies in Democracies, New York, Russell Sage Foundation, 2010, 285-334.

The Study of Critical Junctures: Theory, Narrative and Counterfactuals in Institutional Theory (with R. D. Kelemen), World Politics, April 2007, 341-369.

[2008 Alexander George Award for the Best Journal Article Developing and Applying Qualitative and Multiple Methods, American Political Science Association]

[2006 Sage Award for the Best Conference Paper Developing and Applying Qualitative Methods, American Political Science Association]

Selected professional activities

 (See CV at http://users.ox.ac.uk/~ssfc0073/ for full list)

Editorial Boards: Comparative Political Studies, 2013-present; Democracy and Security, 2005-present.

External referee for appointments to tenured faculty, Full Professor, Head of Department (US, UK, Canada).

Member (Commissario OCSE) of National Committee for Professorial Appointments, Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (2013-2014).

Aspen Institute Italy, member of the group “Interesse Nazionale” (since 2011)


Democracy and extremism

Democratic crises and backsliding

European Politics