Philip Leifeld What Are the Core Mechanisms that Drive the Dynamics of Political Discourse?

Philip Leifeld is a Senior Lecturer in Research Methods at the University of Glasgow (UK). In addition, Leifeld holds the position as Director of Postgraduate Research Training in the School of Social and Political Sciences. Previously, Leifeld was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, and the Max Plank Institute for Demographic Research. His area of specialization is political networks, state actors, and policy networks. In particular, Leifeld focuses on verbal interaction between political actors, and the discourse that surrounds political parlance. For his doctoral dissertation Leifeld was awarded two different ‘Best Dissertation Awards’ (sponsored by the Foundation of Science and Society at the University of Konstanz and the German Employers Federation Südwestmetall).

Area of Research

Political Networks, Network Science, Political Methodology, Computational Social Science

Philip Leifeld and Volker Schneider. "Information Exchange in Policy Networks." American Journal of Political Science 53 (2012): 731-744.  
Philip Leifeld and Sebastian Haunss. "Political Discourse Networks and the Defeat of Software Patents in Europe." European Journal of Political Research 51 (2012): 382-409.  
Karin Ingold and Philip Leifeld. "Structural and Institutional Determinants of Influence Reputation: A Comparison of Collaborative and Adversarial Policy Networks in Decision Making and Implementation." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (2015): (in press).  
Philip Leifeld. "Reconceptualizing Major Policy Change in the Advocacy Coalition Framework: A Discourse Network Analysis of German Pension Politics." Policy Studies Journal 41 (2013): 169-198.  
Volker Schneider, Frank Janning, Philip Leifeld and Thomas Malang (Eds.). Politiknetzwerke. Modelle, Anwendungen und Visualisierungen. Wiesbaden: Springer, 2009.  

since 2016

Senior Lecturer

University of Glasgow (more details)


Postdoctoral Research Fellow

University of Bern (Universität Bern)

Institute of Political Science


Postdoctoral Research Fellow

ETH Zurich (ETH Zürich)

Eawag (Water Research Institute of ETH Domain in Zurich)


Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Group Leader

University of Konstanz (Universität Konstanz)

Zukunftskolleg and Department of Politics and Public Administration


Predoctoral Fellow

Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods


Predoctoral Fellow

Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research


Predoctoral Fellow

University of Konstanz (Universität Konstanz)

Center of Excellence "Cultural Foundations of Integration"


PhD in Political Science

Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods. Conferred by the University of Konstanz


Master in Political Science

University of Konstanz (Universität Konstanz)

Animal Behaviour

Climatic Change

Ecology & Society

Environmental Communication

Environmental Politics

European Journal of Political Research (EJPR)

European Union Politics (EUP)

Government & Opposition

International Journal of Health Policy and Management

International Journal of Social Research Methodology

Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis

Journal of European Public Policy

Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory (JPART)

Journal of Public Policy

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)


Policy & Politics

The Policy Studies Journal (PSJ)

Political Science Research and Methods

Politics & Policy

Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences

The R Journal

Member of the Advisory Board of the "Comparing Climate Change Policy Networks" Project (NSF-funded), (since 2011)

Member of the Selection Committee for the Best Conference Paper Award 2016, APSA Political Networks Section

Co-Organizer of the Advanced Social Network Analysis Seminar Series, Taking Place Bimestrially in Zurich (since 2012)

Lecturer and Co-Organizer of the Biannual POLNET Summer and Winter School for Political Network Analysis (since 2006 with Interruptions)


Award for the Best Conference Paper in Political Networks at any Conference, American Political Science Association (2015)

Award for the Best Paper of an Early Career Scholar, 1st European Conference on Social Networks, Barcelona, Spain (2014)

Award for the Best PhD Thesis in the Social Sciences and Humanities in 2011/2012. University of Konstanz (2013)


Visiting Scholarship, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Computational Social Science Institute (2014)

Visiting Scholarship, The Ohio State University. Department of Political Science (2014)

Visiting Scholarship, University of Maryland, College Park. Program for Society and the Environment (2014)

MaxNetAging Doctoral Fellowship, funded by the Max Planck International Research Network on Aging (2007-2011)

Visiting Scholarship, Columbia University. Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (2010)

Südwestmetall Award for Excellent Junior Research. Sponsored by the German Employers Federation Südwestmetall (2013)

Co-Principal Investigator for "Overlapping Subsystems: Identification and Integration of Fragmented Games in Swiss Water Politics", funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (2014-2017)

Principal Investigator for "Feature-Based Extraction of Contentious Actor-Concept Statements from News Narratives", Zukunftskolleg Interdisciplinary Collaborative Project, University of Konstanz (2014-2015)

Collaborator (Work Package 4) for "CrossWater: Transboundary Micropollution Regulation in Europe" Funded jointly by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) and the National Research Fund of Luxembourg (FNR) (2014-2018)

Principal Investigator for "Implementation, Adjustment and Application of eXtensions of Exponential Random Graph Models (XERGM)", a Mentorship Grant from the Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz (2014)

Principal Investigator for "Self-Reinforcing Recruitment Processes in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment", an International Short Visit Grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) (2014)

Principal Investigator for "Temporal Dynamics of Political Networks", a Postdoctoral Research Grant of the Zukunftskolleg at the University of Konstanz. Funded by the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal Government (2013-2015)

Co-Principal Investigator for "Decision Motives of Federal Constitutional Judges between Law and Politics", Funded by the Zukunftskolleg of the University of Konstanz (2013-2014)

© University of Glasgow

University of Glasgow

Founded in 1451, Glasgow is the fourth oldest English-speaking university in the world. We are a broad-based, research intensive institution ranked in the top 1% of the world's universities. As a member of the prestigious Russell Group of leading UK research universities, Glasgow changes the world with its expertise. Total research income now exceeds £200 million per year and 81% of our research is rated as internationally excellent. Our researchers are making important discoveries, whether that’s opening up a new field of astronomy by contributing to the world’s first detection of gravitational waves, or developing an over-the-counter test for bowel cancer. Our stunning campus, boasts over 100 listed buildings as well as modern teaching and research facilities. We have an ambitious campus development plan in place that will see our staff and students benefit from investment of £1 billion over the next five years. (Source: University of Glasgow)


The research presented in this video exposes the inner mechanisms at work in political discourse. By first modelling verbal interaction between political actors with an agent-based model, and then analyzing the interaction with network analysis PHILIP LEIFELD detects four basic mechanisms: innovative and path-dependent mechanisms, as well as constructivist mechanisms (based on learning and interaction between people) and rational-choice mechanisms (based on external ideology). A combination of those four leads to a discourse looking like a “real-world debate”.

LT Video Publication DOI:

Polarization of Coalitions in an Agent-Based Model of Political Discourse

  • Philip Leifeld
  • Computational Social Networks
  • Published in 2014


Philip Leifeld. "Polarization of Coalitions in an Agent-Based Model of Political Discourse." Computational Social Networks 1 (2014): 1–22.