Dr Sofia Collignon

Lecturer in Political Communication

Royal Holloway, University of London

ABOUT

Dr Sofia Collignon is an expert in the study of candidates, elections and parties and gendered violence against political elites. Her most recent research lays in the intersection of elite politics and public opinion. Her research uses mainly quantitative methods (surveys, panel data, survival and multilevel models) coupled together with interviews. She joined QMUL in 2022. Previously, she was Lecturer in Political Communication at Royal Holloway, University of London (2018-2022) and postdoctoral Research Associate at the School of Government and Public Policy, University of Strathclyde (2016-2017).

Dr Collignon’s increasingly impactful research has attracted national and international attention, generating a series of high-ranking publications, invited talks and ongoing collaborations with recognised academic research teams, practitioners and third sector organisations. Her article Increasing the cost of female representation? The gendered effects of harassment, abuse and intimidation towards Parliamentary candidates in the UK (co-authored with W. Rüdig) was selected as the best paper published at the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties in 2021. Her article Sexual Predators in Contest for Public Office: How the American Electorate Responds to News of Allegations of Candidates Committing Sexual Assault and Harassment (with S. Stark) has been downloaded  more than 60,000 times, making it the most downloaded paper of Political Studies Review.  

She continuously engages in external engagement and dissemination activities. She advises national and international governments and non-governmental organisations on key policy and delivery issues, especially related to abuse, harassment and intimidation in public life. Her work has been covered by important international media outlets such the Atlantic, The Washington Monthly, The Guardian, Sky News, BBC, NBCUniversal and CNN. 

Complete CV can be downloaded here

RESEARCH

Sofia’s main research interests include: a) the study of candidates, elections and parties, and b) harassment and intimidation of political elites. Her research is comparative and she uses mainly quantitative methods. Her work has been published in Electoral Studies, Party Politics and West European Politics, among others. Her research on harassment and intimidation of Parliamentary candidates has been covered in The Guardian, the BBC and Sky News. 

Sofia is part of an interdisciplinary team of academics working on a ‘Pandemic Politics’ project. The team includes Dr Georgios Karyotis (University of Glasgow), Prof John Connolly,  Dr Dimitris Skleparis and Dr Andrew Judge. More information about the project,  analyses, and  empirical results can be found here.
https://www.pandemicpolitics.net/

Additional information on
research and current projects here

My new book with @AdamFagan24 is about to come out with @McGillQueensUP. In ‘the Failure of Remain’ we discuss the mobilisation of the UK’s anti-Brexit movement with reference to the literature on the ‘politicisation of Europe’. See: https://www.mqup.ca/failure-of-remain--the-products-9780228014133.php 1/1

The OECD - OCDE is looking for a #Disinformation Junior Policy Analyst to help countries identify policy responses to building information integrity. 20 January deadline:
https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7015619364825485312/

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PUBLISHED PAPERS

Harassment and Intimidation of Parliamentary Candidates in the United Kingdom

Sofia Collignon, Wolfgang Rüdig

Journal: The Political Quarterly

Abstract

The use of political violence to attain political goals has long been a source of concern. Once thought to be exclusive to countries with high levels of general violence, recent evidence suggests that harassment and intimidation of political elites in the UK is more widespread than previously thought. Using data from the 2017 general election candidate survey, we find that four in every ten candidates experienced at least one type of harassment. Evidence suggests that women and young candidates are more likely to suffer from harassment and intimidation. We conclude by formulating an agenda for future research, focussing, in particular, on the perception of harassment and the effect of harassment on political careers.

Published paper can be found here:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1467-923X.12855

Local means local, does it? Regional identification and preferences for local candidates

Sofia Collignon, Javier Sajuria

Journal: Electoral Studies

Abstract

The literature on candidate selection has found that voters favour local candidates, as they are thought to be more apt to represent their constituents. An important caveat is that it requires that voters have knowledge of the candidates’ characteristics, and to value localism. Previous research concentrates on candidate characteristics, leaving unanswered the question of who considers localism to be important when making their vote choices. This research addresses the gap by showing that regional identification has a strong relationship with preference for local candidates. We test this argument by analysing data from the British Election Survey 2015 using multilevel models. The results show that voters who feel stronger about their distinctive regional identities care significantly more about localism. Additionally, this effect is different when the party system includes a party that explicitly channels these feelings, suggesting that the advantage of local candidates is dependent on the context of party competition.

    Published paper can be found here:

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261379418300593?via%3Dihub

    Governments, decentralisation, and the risk of electoral defeat

    Sofia Collignon

    Journal: West European Politics

    Abstract

    In the last three decades several countries around the world have transferred authority from their national to their regional governments. However, not all their regions have been empowered to the same degree and important differences can be observed between and within countries. Why do some regions obtain more power than others? Current literature argues that variation in the redistribution of power and resources between regions is introduced by demand. Yet these explanations are conditional on the presence of strong regionalist parties or territorial cleavages. This article proposes instead a theory that links the government’s risk of future electoral defeat with heterogeneous decentralisation, and tests its effects using data from 15 European countries and 141 regions. The results provide evidence that parties in government protect themselves against the risk of electoral defeat by selectively targeting decentralisation towards regions in which they are politically strong. The findings challenge previous research that overestimates the importance of regionalist parties while overlooking differences between regions.

      Published paper can be found here:

      Measuring the Distribution of Crime and Its Concentration

      Rafael Prieto Curiel Sofia Collignon Stephen Richard Bishop

      Journal: Journal of Quantitative Criminology

      Abstract

      Objectives
      Generally speaking, crime is, fortunately, a rare event. As far as modelling is concerned, this sparsity of data means that traditional measures to quantify concentration are not appropriate when applied to crime suffered by a population. Our objective is to develop a new technique to measure the concentration of crime which takes into account its low frequency of occurrence and its high degree of concentration in such a way that this measure is comparable over time and over different populations.

      Methods
      This article derives an estimate of the distribution of crime suffered by a population based on a mixture model and then evaluates a new and standardised measurement of the concentration of the rates of suffering a crime based on that distribution.

      Results
      The new measure is successfully applied to the incidence of robbery of a person in Mexico and is able to correctly quantify the concentration crime in such a way that is comparable between different regions and can be tracked over different time periods.

      Conclusions
      The risk of suffering a crime is not uniformly distributed across a population. There are certain groups which are statistically immune to suffering crime but there are also groups which suffer chronic victimisation. This measure improves our understanding of how patterns of crime can be quantified allowing us to determine if a prevention policy results in a crime reduction rather than target displacement. The method may have applications beyond crime science.

      Published paper can be found here:

      It is time for a closer look : The demise of regional party branches

      Sofia Collignon

      Journal: Party Politics

      Abstract

      Traditionally, decentralization has been linked with the stability of the party system because it helps parties to succeed in national elections. Yet, previous research has frequently obviated the intertwined nature of multilevel party competition. This research takes a closer look at parties’ subnational electoral trajectories while arguing that decentralization increases the risk of new party demise by making subnational elections more attractive for all kinds of parties to compete in. The argument is tested applying survival analysis to the electoral trajectories of 1235 regional branches of political parties in 12 European countries. Results show that contrary to what has been stated previously on the literature, decentralization increases the risk of parties to disappear. This effect fades away the older and more consolidated the party becomes, and it is of particular relevance for regionalist parties. These findings have important implications for the literature on second-order elections and multilevel party competition.

      Published paper can be found here:

      Predicting the Brexit Vote by Tracking and Classifying Public Opinion Using Twitter Data

      Julio Amador Sofia Collignon Kenneth Benoit Matsuo Akitaka

      Journal: Statistics, Politics and Policy

      Abstract

      We use 23M Tweets related to the EU referendum in the UK to predict the Brexit vote. In particular, we use user-generated labels known as hashtags to build training sets related to the Leave/Remain campaign. Next, we train SVMs in order to classify Tweets. Finally, we compare our results to Internet and telephone polls. This approach not only allows to reduce the time of hand-coding data to create a training set, but also achieves high level of correlations with Internet polls. Our results suggest that Twitter data may be a suitable substitute for Internet polls and may be a useful complement for telephone polls. We also discuss the reach and limitations of this method.

        Published paper can be found here:

        PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

        Press Request from First Draft ”Misleading claims, edited videos and
        conspiracy theories acting as a ‘vehicle’ to undermine marginalised voices”

        Full Article

        Blog Entry in The Conversation ”Election 2019: analysis shows increase in women MPs but most are in
        opposition”

        Full Article

        Blog Entry in The Democratic Audit ”When do central governments
        decentralise? When it benefits the party in power”

        Full Article

        WORKING PAPERS

        A Comparative Approach to Harassment and Intimidation of Parliamentary Candidates. (2019)

        Collignon, Sofia, Javier Sajuria, and Wolfgang Rüdig.

        Journal: APSA Annual Conference, Washington D.C.

        CONTACT

        s.collignon[at]qmul.ac.uk