HJS welcomes Sophia Gaston and launches Centre for Social and Political Risk

By Henry Jackson Society

The Henry Jackson Society is delighted to announce the launch of its newest research centre, the Centre for Social and Political Risk.

The Centre for Social and Political Risk (CSPR) is a new research centre to be led by social researcher Sophia Gaston, based at the Henry Jackson Society. Through a unique programme of citizen-focused, international research, the Centre will identify, diagnose and propose solutions to threats to governance in liberal Western democracies.

Its fundamental purpose is to underscore the potential harm that various forms of social, cultural and political insecurity, conflict and disengagement can pose to the long-term sustainability of democracies – including the resilience of their institutions, public policy outcomes, citizens’ health and wellbeing, and economic growth and prosperity. Moreover, to underscore how social and political instability can make nations vulnerable to internal and external actors seeking to deepen cleavages, undermine consensus and ultimately, to weaken democratic functioning.

Its research scope will include issues such as: social cohesion and integration; freedom of speech and political correctness; nationalism, patriotism and cosmopolitanism; political and media engagement; demographic change; the future of political parties; misinformation and the public sphere; and the social impacts of technological change. The Centre will undertake quantitative and qualitative research in the UK, Europe and the United States, as well as organising cross-party events and debates, and collaborating with other organisations working on these concerning trends.

Its first project will address the growth in conspiracy theories around immigration in the United Kingdom and the United States, and the risks these pose to mainstream parties.

Commenting on the new Centre, its Director Sophia Gaston said:
“The establishment of the CSPR comes against a backdrop of polarising and fragmenting societies, of increasing political partisanship, and a collapse in trust in the institutions charged with upholding our democracies. There is an urgent need to invest in better understanding the motivations, fears and aspirations of citizens, and how their concerns and anxieties are shaping their political behaviour. Moreover, to then connect this understanding to the political and civic actors and institutions who can demonstrably respond on their behalf.”

Dr Alan Mendoza, Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society, commented: “We are delighted to welcome Sophia to the Henry Jackson Society as a marker of our continued intellectual vibrancy and appeal across the opinion spectrum. Our democracies and democratic structures are facing increasing threats to their survival. Her important work will enable greater understanding of current and future societal and political trends, as well as signposting the solutions we hope politicians will consider.”


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