Sarah Oates

Сара Оутс

sarah.oates [at]

Professor of political communication

  • Research and teach media and democratization; internet and political change; terrorism coverage; research methods; elections and political communication including in Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In-depth use of audience and opinion research to compare democratic/non-democratic states.
  • Extensive publications in field of comparative media and politics.
  • Principal/co-principal on grants worth more than $1 million.
  • Experienced in qualitative and quantitative research design, methods, and analysis (including public opinion surveys, focus-group research, content analysis, online content analysis).
  • Policy/academic interchange experience includes seven years with New Security Challenges program of the British Research Councils. Routinely discuss issues of communication and security with government, including Home Office and Cabinet Office. Founder and coordinator of academic network with Google UK. International consultancy experience includes work with British Foreign Office, European Commission, and Soros Foundation.
  • Research Assistant (1996-1998), Lecturer/Assistant Professor (1998-2005), Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor (2005-2008) in Politics at the University of Glasgow. Founder, MSc in Political Communication. Acting Associate Dean (Research) for the Faculty of Law, Business and Social Sciences, 2009.

BA (English) Yale University, 1985
MA (Political Science) Emory University, 1996
PhD (Political Science) Emory University, 1998

Research projects/grants

U.K Economic and Social Research Council
The Internet and Everyday Rights in Russia. October 2010-April 2013. Project to analyze whether the internet can champion the causes of citizens in non-democratic states. This project will study the role of the internet in political life in Russia through an analysis of how people seek to fulfil their ‘everyday’ human rights in gaining access to social services such as pensions and health care. The study uses five central elements to analyze the role of the internet in these efforts: content, community, catalyst, control, and co-optation. Grant RES-000-22-4159/£99,407. Principal investigator.

Civic Consumers or Commercial Citizens?: Social Scientists Working with Google UK to Better Understand Online Search Behaviour. May 2011-May 2012. Knowledge Transfer Small Grant ES/I030166/1. This knowledge exchange project brings together corporate and academic spheres of information technology through the fusion of the study of online search behaviour of consumers (Google UK) and online citizens (social scientists).  Via two workshops, the project summarises and presents to Google UK analysts relevant research in the social sciences on online search; explores possibilities with Google analysts on how search information can be used by social-science researchers via Google Analytics tools; defines collaboratively key societal challenges in understanding the role of search for citizen and consumer; and establishes an academic network to exchange information with Google UK.  After the first workshop in November 2011, agreement was reached the U.K. Research Councils to develop up to four projects of approximately £50,000 each to pilot joint projects on developing search tools for social-science analysis (a ‘sand-pit’ event to take place in Spring 2012).
Principal investigator.

Building a New Democracy?: Television, Citizens and Voting in Russia, February 2000-August 2001. Study included focus groups, survey research, coding of television news, and political advertising in 1999 and 2000 Russian elections. Grant R000223133/£40,000. Principal investigator.

New Security Challenges Program
Safer Spaces: Communication Design for Counter Terror, January 2008-October 2009. Project to study public reaction to counter-terrorism measures with scholars in range of disciplines at seven British universities. Created concept of Interactive Technology in Transport Situations (InSITE) and provided design brief for video-based interactive technology to increase crowd security in transport environments. Launched prototype for British government officials.  Joint project of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council/Arts and Humanities Research Council/Economic and Social Research Council Grant EP/F008503/1/£415,000. Co-investigator.

The Framing of Terrorist Threat in British Elections, April 2005-December 2006. Study of 2005 British elections to analyze role of terrorist threat for campaign and voters. Project included focus groups, party election broadcast analysis, news analysis of BBC and commercial television. Grant R228250048/£46,000. Principal investigator.

The Framing of Terrorist Threat in U.S. and Russian Elections, October 2003-October 2005. Study of Russian and U.S. elections to analyze role of terrorist threat in message creation and reaction. Study included focus groups, advertising analysis, television news analysis. Grant R223250028/£44,000. Principal investigator.

Additional grants/projects
International Potential, National Limits: Investigating the Role of the Russian Internet in Constraining the Social Agenda. British Academy Research Grant. This project seeks to better understand the dynamics of the online sphere through an analysis of internet content relating to access to health care in Russia. The research takes a novel approach to the study of online media and the political sphere by emphasizing the examination of a particular issue area rather than the analysis of specific online sites. April 2010-September 2011. £6,780. Principal investigator.
Media and Civil Society in the Newly Independent States, Leverhulme Research Fellowship, July 2003-July 2004. Project to collect, organize, and analyze archive of media monitoring data from the European Institute for the Media, Düsseldorf, Germany. £12,700. Principal investigator.

Additional Funding: Fulbright Award for dissertation fieldwork in Russia; International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) Dissertation Award; Research Award from the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University; Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

Selected publications

Revolution Stalled: The Political Limits of the Internet in the Post-Soviet Sphere. Under contract to Digital Politics series at Oxford University Press for publication in 2012.

Terrorism, Elections, and Democracy: Political Campaigns in the United States, Great Britain, and Russia (with L.L. Kaid and M. Berry). 2009. New York: Palgrave Macmillan ISBN-13 978-0230613577

Introduction to Media and Politics. 2008. London: SAGE. ISBN-13 978-1412902625
First chapter translated into Spanish also appears as introduction in A. Rettberg and O. Rincón (eds.) 2011. Medios, Democracia Y Poder. Bogotá: Ediciones Uniandes.

Television, Democracy and Elections in Russia. 2006. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0415381347

The Internet and Politics: Citizens, Voters and Activists (co-edited with D. Owen and R.K. Gibson). 2006. London: Routledge. ISBN 041534784X

Elections and Voters in Post-Communist Russia (co-edited with M. Wyman and S. White). London: Edward Elgar. 1998. ISBN 1858987431

Political Challengers or Political Outcasts?: Comparing Online Communication for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and the British Liberal Democrats. Forthcoming 2012. Europe-Asia Studies (Manuscript accepted, copy edit completed, awaiting proofs).

Going Native: The Value in Reconceptualizing International Internet Service Providers as Domestic Media Outlets (2011). Philosophy & Technology 24 (4): 391409. DOI: 10.1007/s13347-011-0045-4

With Brooke Barnett, Laura Roselle and Amy Reynolds. 2008. Journalism & Terrorism Across the Atlantic: A Qualitative Content Analysis of CNN and BBC Coverage of 9/11 and 7/7.  Feedback 49:6: 29-43

Rhetoric in the Language of Real Estate Marketing (with G. Pryce). 2008. Housing Studies 23(2): 319-348.

The Neo-Soviet Model of the Media. 2007. Europe-Asia Studies 59(8): 1279-1297. 

Comparing the Politics of Fear: The Role of Terrorism News in Election Campaigns in Russia, the United States and Britain. 2006. International Relations 20(4): 425-437.
Framing Fear: Findings from a Study of Election News and Terrorist Threat in Russia. 2006. Europe-Asia Studies 58(2): 281-290.

Media Effects and the Russian Elections, 1999-2000 (with S. White and I. McAllister). 2005. The British Journal of Political Science 35(2): 191-208.

Politics and the Media in Postcommunist Russia (with S. White). 2003. Politics 23(1): 31-37.

The ‘Clash of Civilizations’ and Postcommunist Europe (with S. White and B. Miller). 2003. Comparative European Politics 1(2): 111-127.

Was It Russian Public Television That Won It? (with S. White and I. McAllister). 2002. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 7(2): 17-33.

Religion and Political Action in Postcommunist Europe (with S. White, W.L. Miller, and Å. Grødeland). 2000. Political Studies 48(4): 681-705.

Russian Elections and TV News: Comparison of Campaign News on State-Controlled and Commercial Television Channels (with L. Roselle). 2000. The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics 5(2): 30-51.

Eastern Publics and Western Enlargement (with S. White, C. Rontoyanni, and W. Miller). 2000. International Politics 37(3): 323-344.

Russia’s Parliamentary Elections: The Dirty Road to the Duma. 2000. Problems of Post-Communism 47(2): 30-51.

Party Platforms: Toward a Definition of the Russian Political Spectrum. 1998. Journal of Communist Studies and Transition Politics 14(1-2): 79-97. Also appeared as a chapter in J. Löwenhardt (ed.) 1998. Party Politics in Post-Communist Russia. London: Frank Cass: 76-97. ISBN 0714644439

Parties and Voters in the 1995 Russian Parliamentary Elections (with S. White and M. Wyman). 1997. Europe-Asia Studies 49(5): 767-798.

Book chapters
Post-Soviet Political Communication. 2012 Forthcoming (in proofs). In H. Semetko and M. Scammell (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Political Communication: 461-471. ISBN-13 978-1847874399

Media and Political Communication (with G. McCormack). 2009. In S. White, R. Sakwa, and H. Hale (eds.) Developments in Russian Politics 7. Basingstoke: Palgrave. ISBN 978-0230224490

Election Coverage in the Russian Federation. 2008. In J. Strömbeck and L.L. Kaid (eds.) Handbook of Election Coverage Around the World. New York: SAGE: 355-367. ISBN 978-0805860375

A Spiral of Post-Soviet Cynicism: The First Decade of Political Advertising in Russia. 2006. In L.L. Kaid and C. Holtz-Bacha (eds.) Handbook of Political Advertising. London: SAGE: 309-324. ISBN 978-1412917957

The Internet, Civil Society and Democracy: A Comparative Perspective (with R.K. Gibson). 2005. In S. Oates, D. Owen, and R.K. Gibson (eds.) The Internet and Politics: Citizens, Voters and Activists. London: Routledge: 20-38. ISBN 041534784X

Where’s the Party?: Television and Political Image in Russia. 2005. In K. Voltmer (ed.) Mass Media and New Democracies. London: Routledge: 152-167. ISBN 0203328663

Media, Civil Society, and the Failure of the Fourth Estate in Russia. 2005. In A.B. Evans Jr., L.A. Henry, and L. McIntosh Sundstrom (eds.) Russian Civil Society: A Critical Assessment. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe Inc.: 57-72. ISBN 0765615215

Post-Soviet Political Style: Parties, Television and Voters. 2004. In G. Flikke (ed.) The Uncertainties of Putin’s Democracy. Oslo: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs: 109-128. ISBN 8270021008

Television, Voters, and the Development of the ‘Broadcast Party.’ 2003. In V.L. Hesli and W.M. Reisinger (eds.) The 1999-2000 Elections in Russia: Their Impact and Legacy. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Invited lectures and presentations
One Country, Two Audiences: Television and the Internet in Russia. Research presentation at the Higher School of Economics, St Petersburg, Russia, February 2012.

Web Diplomacy 2.0: Opportunities, Threats and Challenges in Exporting Democracy On Line. Paper presented at the 2011 International Affairs Conference on Democratisation and New Media, The Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, November 2011.

Roundtable participant, Reporting the Independence Referendum, Festival of Politics,
Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh, August 2011.

The Effect of Democratic Discourse in Non-Democratic States: Russian Political Parties On Line. Paper presented at the European Consortium for Political Research, Reykjavik, Iceland, August 2011.

Of Needles and Haystacks: Finding Political Activism in the Online Sphere in Russia. Research presentation at the Fourth Annual Research Forum for the Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies, University of Glasgow, May 2011.

Back to the Future: Changing Research Design to Improve Methods and Measurements for Media Freedom Indicators. Paper presented at Measuring Press Freedom (co-sponsored by the American Political Science Association and the Annenberg Foundation), Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, November 2010.

From Parent to Protestor on the Post-Soviet Internet: Locating and Evaluating Political Web Spaces for Families of Children with Genetic Disabilities in Russia. Paper presented at the Political Communication Section Pre-Conference, American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., September 2010.

Political Party Websites as Mirror or Prism: Comparing Russian Communists and British Liberal-Democrats in the Online Sphere. Paper presented at the New Media in New Europe-Asia Workshop at the University of Birmingham, sponsored by the Centre for East European Language-Based Studies (University College London, University of Oxford, and University of Birmingham). Birmingham, March 2010.

From Political ‘Surf’ to Political ‘Turf’?: Developing Website Analysis to Better Understand the Internet as a Political Catalyst. Presented at the 6th Annual Pre-Conference on Political Communication at the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Boston, August 2008.

Comrades Online?: How the Russian Case Challenges the Democratising Potential of the Internet. Presented at Politics: Web 2.0 International Conference, Royal Holloway, University of London, April 2008.

The Russian Internet: Formed More by International or National Media Norms? Post-Soviet Media Research Methodology Workshop, Centre for Russian and East European Studies, University of Birmingham, March 2008.

Media and Public Policy: Does the Nation Control Television or Television Control the Nation?, Scottish Policy Innovation Forum, Glasgow, September 2007.

Journalism & Terrorism Across the Atlantic: A Qualitative Content Analysis of CNN and BBC Coverage of 9/11 and 7/7 (with B. Barnett, A. Reynolds, and L. Roselle). Presented at the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication Annual Convention, Washington, D.C., August 2007. 

Putin and the Neo-Soviet Model of the Media. St Antony’s College Oxford, Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre Seminar, October 2007.

Comparative Aspects of Terrorism Coverage: Television and Voters in the 2004 U.S. and 2005 British Elections (with A. Williams). Presented at the Political Communication Section Pre-Conference of the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, September 2006.

Through A Lens Darkly?: Russian Television and Terrorism Coverage in Comparative Perspective. Presented at the Mass Media in Post-Soviet Russia International Conference, University of Surrey, United Kingdom, May 2006.

Citizen or Comrade?: Terrorist Threat in Election Campaigns in Russia and the U.S. (with M. Postelnicu). Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Washington, D.C., September 2005.

Post-Soviet Political Style: Parties, Television and Voters. Presented at the Centre for Russian Studies at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs Conference on Putin, Oslo, Norway, January 2004.

The Mass Media, Elections, and the Failure of Democracy in Russia. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, September 2004.

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: The Role of Terrorist Threat in Russian Election Campaigns. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, September 2004.

From the Archives of the European Institute for the Media: Analysing the Results of a Decade of Monitoring of Post-Soviet Elections. Presented at the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies Conference, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, England, April 2004.

Beacon for Democracy or Tool for Oppression? Fitting the Internet into Political Communication Models in Non-Free States. Presented at the Changing Media and Civil Society Workshop, European Consortium for Political Research, Edinburgh, March 2003.

“No Better Heroes”: Political Images, Elections and Russian Viewers. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston, September 2002.

“You Watch in Pain”: What Russians Dislike About Their Television Programming. Presented at the Russian Politics Under Putin Conference, Centre for European Political Research, University of Dundee, Scotland, May 2002.

Tuning Out Democracy: Television, Voters and Parties in Russia, 1993-2000. Presented at the Political Communication, Mass Media and Consolidation of New Democracies Workshop, European Consortium of Political Research, Turin, Italy, March 2002.

The Advent of the ‘Broadcast Party’: Parties, Voters and Television in Russia, 1993-1999. Presented at the Political Studies Association Annual Meeting, London School of Economics, April 2000.

Policy and academic outreach

  • Lead Consultant, Internet Futures Team, InterMedia, Washington D.C. Work with consultancy firm with focus on role of media, information, and communication in developing countries, conflict areas, fragile states, and countries in transition to further develop internet analysis tools. InterMedia clients include the World Bank, USAID, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of State and the BBC World Service. January 2011 to present. Founder and coordinator, Google UK Forum and Google Academic Network in United Kingdom. Brings together scholars from wide range of British institutions with analysts at Google for exchange of ideas and research practice. See
  • Participant, New Security Challenges program of the Research Councils of the United Kingdom, 2003-2010. Contribute to workshops on role of communication in security for British government agencies, including Home Office and Cabinet Office.
  • Participant, Pontignano Conference, Rome, Italy. Joint discussions and workshops between British and Italian policy-makers and academics, sponsored by the British Council, September 2011.
  • Member of ACE Practitioners’ Network, ACE Electoral Knowledge Network. International organization to promote credible, transparent electoral process (see
  • Media monitor/report co-author, The European Institute for the Media, Düsseldorf. Member of expert teams funded by European Commission to analyze media in Russian Duma elections and Kazakhstan presidential elections, 1999.
  • Participant and group rapporteur, UK-Russian Security Policy Seminars, Institute of Europe at the Russian Academy of Sciences. Sponsored by the British Foreign Office and the Centre for Studies in Security and Diplomacy, University of Birmingham. Moscow, November 2007 and November 2009.
  • Designed and delivered political communication course to 25 young academics from former Soviet sphere in Open Society Program on media literacy, a joint project of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and Towson University. Kyiv, Ukraine, July 2006. Funded by the Soros Foundation.
  • BBC Scotland News and Current Affairs Review Panel, 2003.

Academic activities/affiliations

  • Member, British Economic and Social Research Council Virtual College, October 2008-September 2011. One of seven political scientists in Britain to serve as central reviewer on grants to the council, the funding agency for social-science research in the United Kingdom.  Also consulted on research council policy.
  • Grant reviewer, Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, 2010.
  • External Reviewer, Staff Research Profiling Exercise, Manchester University, 2009.
  • External Examiner, MSc in International Political Communication, Advocacy and Campaigning, Kingston University (London), August 2008-August 2012. External PhD examiner at Leeds University (2009), University College London, Goldsmiths (2010).
  • Board Member, International Journal of Press/Politics, 2008-present; Europe-Asia Studies, 2001-present.
  • Manuscript reviewer: Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Duke University Press, Manchester University Press, Routledge, Palgrave/Macmillan.
  • Review submissions for journals including Political Communication, The International Journal of Press/Politics, American Journal of Political Science, Europe-Asia Studies, Journal of Politics, The British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Communist and Post-Communist Studies, The European Journal of Political Research, Politic, New Media & Society, Philosophy & Technology, Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism.
  • Book reviews published in The American Political Science Review, Democratization, Europe-Asia Studies, Slavonic and East European Review, Russian Review.
  • Member, Political Communication Section, American Political Science Association, prize committee member 2008 and 2010.
  • Member, Committee of the International Association for Development of the Information Society (IADIS) 2010 Conference.
  • Member, Society of Authors (United Kingdom). 
  • Reviewer, Scottish Universities Insight Institute, 2009-2010

Journalism experience
Reporter and copy editor, Orlando Sentinel, 1986-1992. Internships at The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Miami Herald, Los Angeles Times (D.C. Bureau), Syracuse Herald-Journal. Yale campus correspondent for The New York Times. Editor-in-chief, Yale Daily News. Currently freelance political commentator/analyst for BBC Radio Scotland.

Russian (fluent), some French, Latin, and Spanish

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