Die Forschung und Lehre im Bereich der Professur für Vergleichende Politik umfasst politikwissenschaftliche Analysen und Fragestellungen aus einer vergleichenden Perspektive. Angelehnt an die Forschungsinteressen der Lehrstuhlinhaberin liegt ein besonderes Augenmerk auf Themen wie vergleichende Wohlfahrtsstaatsforschung, Bildungspolitik, soziale Ungleichheit, politische Einstellungen und Verhalten sowie empirische Methoden. Neben international vergleichenden Ansätzen wird nicht zuletzt auch eine subnational vergleichende Perspektive verfolgt. In diesem Sinne gliedert sich die Professur optimal in den Masterstudiengang „Comparative and Swiss Politics“ ein.

Aktuelle Forschung / Forschungsschwerpunkte

Wohlfahrtsstaatspolitik und policy feedback

Inwiefern beeinflusst wohlfahrtsstaatliche Politik Einstellungs- und Verhaltensmuster der Bevölkerung? Wie unterscheiden sich diese Policy-Effekte nach gesellschaftlichen Gruppen? Können Policies soziale Ungleichheiten beeinflussen?

Akzeptanz erneuerbarer Energie

Unter welchen Bedingungen akzeptieren Bürgerinnen und Bürger die dezentrale Implementierung von erneuerbarer Energie und Energieprojekten? Mehr Informationen zum laufenden Projekt im Rahmen des NFP 71 finden sich hier.

Lokale politische Beteiligung

Welche individuellen und kontextuellen Faktoren beeinflussen die individuelle Beteiligung an lokalen Wahlen, Abstimmungen und Gemeindeversammlungen? Wie variieren individuelle Partizipationsmuster über die Zeit? Lassen sich die Hypothesen der Partizipationsforschung unter Verwendung von realen Beteiligungsdaten bestätigen?

Aktuelle Publikationen (Auswahl)


S. Kumlin/I. Stadelmann-Steffen (2014): How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public. Edward Elgar.

A. Manatschal/I. Stadelmann-Steffen (2013): "Cantonal variations of integration policy and their impact on immigrant educational inequality"

A. Vatter/I. Stadelmann-Steffen (2013) "Subnational Patterns of Democracy in Austria, Germany and Switzerland"

I. Stadelmann-Steffen/ A. Vatter (2012) Does Satisfaction with Democracy Really Increase Happiness?

Zeitschriften (Peer-review)

  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle and Clau DERMONT (2016). ”How exclusive is assembly democracy? Citizens assembly and ballot participation compared“, Swiss Political Science Review (forthcoming).
  • LACHAT, Romain; LUTZ, Georg and Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen (eds.) (2014).”The 2011 Swiss Elections“, special issue of the Swiss Political Science Review 20(4).
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle and Birte GUNDELACH (2015).”Individual socialization or politocultural context? The cultural roots of volunteering in Switzerland“, Acta Politica 50(1).
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle and Daniela KOLLER (2014). "What type of resources? Household effects and female electoral participation“, special issue on the Swiss national elections 2011, Swiss Political Science Review 20(4).
  • MANATSCHAL, Anita and Isabelle STADELMANN-STEFFEN (2014). ”Do Integration Policies Affect Immigrants’ Voluntary Engagement? An Exploration at Switzerland’s Subnational Level“, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 40(3).
  • MANATSCHAL, Anita and Isabelle STADELMANN-STEFFEN (2013). ”Cantonal variations of integration policy and their impact on immigrant educational inequality“, special issue of Comparative European Politics, ”From Models to Indices and Beyond: Tracking Citizenship and Diversity“ 11.
  • VATTER, Adrian and Isabelle STADELMANN-STEFFEN (2013). ”A Democratic Map of German-speaking Europe: Sub-national Patterns of Democracy in Austria, Germany and Switzerland“, West European Politics 36(1).


  • KUMLIN, Staffan and Isabelle STADELMANN-STEFFEN (eds.) (2014). How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public: Policy Feedback, Participation, Voting and Attitudes. Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

Welfare state policy and policy feedback

This area of research focuses on the question of how and why different countries or subnational units vary in their supply of welfare state policies and – most importantly – what consequences these different policies have on societal, economic, and political outcomes. The crucial assumption on which the different research projects are built suggests that the policy environment influences citizens’ value and behavior patterns. Policies, however, typically do not affect the entire population in a uniform way; rather, different groups of citizens may react to and be influenced by a given policy context quite differently.

Family policy and (un)paid work in Swiss communes

A vast breadth of empirical literature exists that investigates the determinants and patterns of female labour market integration. One of the crucial findings is that policy structures and, in particular, external childcare are among the most important factors facilitating and influencing female employment. While the extant literature has largely focused on employment, this project aims at investigating female (and male) work patterns from a broader perspective. We analyse how men and women, depending on their family and employment situations, participate in paid and unpaid work as well as leisure activities, and how these work patterns depend on structural and cultural conditions.

The analyses are based on individual level data from 60 Swiss communes containing questions on the reconciliation of work, family, and leisure activities. In order to account for the structural (i.e. family, political) conditions, a survey of the 60 communes has been conducted. While systematic and comparative data on childcare supply in Switzerland is lacking, this is one of the first sources of such information at local level in Switzerland.


  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle (2011). Dimensions of family policy and female labour market participation: Analysing group-specific policy effects, Governance 24(2): 331-357.
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle (2008). Women, Labor, and Public Policy. The female labour market integration in the OECD countries: A comparative perspective, Journal of Social Policy 37(3): 383-408.
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle (2007). Der Einfluss der sozialpolitischen Kontexte auf die Frauenerwerbstätigkeit in der Schweiz, Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie 59(4): 589-614.
  • STADELMANN-STEFFEN, Isabelle (2007). Policies, Frauen und der Arbeitsmarkt. Die Frauenerwerbstätigkeit in der Schweiz im internationalen und interkantonalen Vergleich. Reihe Policy-Forschung und Vergleichende Regierungslehre, Band 4. Münster, Lit Verlag.

Edited volume on policy feedback in European welfare states

In democracies, citizens’ attitudes and behaviour should influence future public policies. In practice, however, the reverse may also be true: attitudes and behaviour can be results of past policies. The planned volume, co-edited with Staffan Kumlin (University of Gothenburg/Social Research Institute Oslo) develops and tests propositions about such policy feedback in European welfare states. The book takes a broad stance and simultaneously considers how welfare states shape three crucial facets of the democratic public: political participation, voting behaviour, and political attitudes (including performance evaluations, welfare support, and democratic satisfaction). We examine how these are structured by slowly accumulating policy legacies as well as by shorter-term policy change. Overall, a diverse menu of methodological designs converges on the conclusion that welfare states shape crucial facets of the democratic public. Equally important, however, the book illustrates the many contingencies and complexities in such processes. Policy feedback is best uncovered in analyses that conceptualize and measure rather specific and immediately relevant aspects of polices themselves. And it is often contingent on the variables on interests, information, and evaluations of individual citizens, as well as on crucial features of the political context.

Political education and political participation

The (low) political participation of young adults has largely been neglected in Swiss political science research. Most existing studies take a pedagogic perspective or have been initiated by politicians, and typically focus on participation within the school context or hypothetical political behavior. Accordingly, there is a lack of studies that systematically investigate (formal) political participation of young adults in terms of individual and contextual determinants.
Related to this academic void, a second area of research is under-researched in Political Science, namely the influence of political education on actual political participation.

This project aims at closing these research gaps by providing answers to the following research questions:

- How and to what extent do young adults in Switzerland participate in the political process? Can we observe cantonal disparities?

- Which factors on the individual and contextual level help to explain the participation patterns of young adults? Is this group different from other age cohorts in terms of the factors that facilitate political participation?

- Are there differences in political education (in secondary education I and II) among cantons and schools? If so, how do they influence the political participation of young adults? Is the timing of political education relevant for its effect on political education?

Start: October 2012, duration: 3 years

PhD project of Daniela Koller

Acceptance of renewable energy

The nuclear phasing out and promoted energy turnaround (Energiewende) could constitute a major driver for renewable energy projects. Increasing the share of renewable energy is seen as indispensable to solve the energy supply dilemma. This new orientation faces various challenges not only on a technical, but also on a political level. We argue that the governmental decision as such does not automatically induce energy turnaround. In order to make change happen, renewable energy projects and innovative policy instruments enhancing them have to be accepted and realized at the regional and local level. This is the starting point of this research project asking how effective policy change towards renewable energy can be achieved. We argue that – besides technology acceptance by the market – the acceptance of policies and instrument mixes is a crucial pre-condition for project success. Empirically, and via a comparative case study, social network analysis, and experimental survey design, we aim identifying the drivers and obstacles of alternative electricity from renewable sources (solar, wind, geothermal and small scale hydro power).

Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen’s research group thereby focuses on the citizens’ level: Under which conditions do individuals accept or reject renewable energy policies and projects? We therefore depart from the idea that a new energy strategy will only be implemented if the population accepts it. This aspect weighs particularly heavy in the Swiss direct-democratic setting since most energy projects explicitly or implicitly need to pass the direct-democratic hurdle (i.e. a referendum or an objection). In the participatory context of Switzerland where the demand side and consumers are empowered by citizens’ vote, individual decision-making becomes crucial. A conjoint survey design is used to evaluate constellations under which citizens or groups of citizens accept or reject electricity policies.

This project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) within the framework of the National Research Programme "Managing Energy Consumption" (NRP 71).

More information here.

PhD student working on this project: Clau Dermont