Ben Ansell

PhD Harvard, FBA

Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions, Nuffield College
Government and Politics Network
Nuffield College

Ben Ansell is Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions in the Department of Politics and International Relations and Professorial Fellow, Nuffield College. He received his PhD in Government from Harvard University in 2006 and conducts research in a wide area of comparative politics and political economy. Before joining Oxford and Nuffield College he was an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.

His initial research focus was the politics of education, with his book From the Ballot to the Blackboard: The Redistributive Politics of Education, published by Cambridge University Press in 2010 and winning the William H. Riker prize for best book in political economy. His second book, Inequality and Democratization: An Elite-Competition Approach, coauthored with David Samuels and published by Cambridge University Press in 2014 won the Woodrow Wilson APSA Best Book Prize and the William H. Riker best book in political economy prize. His third book, coauthored with Johannes Lindvall, Inward Conquest: The Political Origins of Public Services, was published in 2021 by Cambridge University Press. His work has been published in International Organization, Journal of Politics, World Politics, Comparative Political Studies, West European Politics, and the American Political Science Review.

From September 2013, together with David Samuels at the University of Minnesota, he has been co-editor of Comparative Political Studies. He is Principal Investigator of the European Research Council funded project WEALTHPOL and is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Ben's latest book, Why Politics Fails was published in October 2023 and draws on almost two decades of his research and cutting edge scholarship across the social sciences, to explain why politics fails so often. Throughout the book, he traces how our individual self-interest sabotages our collective goals.

Ben also delivered the BBC's 2023 Reith Lectures. His four lectures, titled 'Our Democratic Future', consider how to build political systems that work for all and are robust enough to face the wide-ranging challenges of the 21st century. They can be heard on BBC Sounds.

Ben Ansell


For a full list of publications see Ben Ansell's personal website.

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