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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Jan Eichhorn

Jan Eichhorn
Dr Jan Eichhorn
Senior Lecturer in Social Policy
1.03 - 22 George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LF
+44 (0)131 651 1382
Research Interests
Subjective well-being, Political participation, Social capital, Social surveys, Multilevel analyses, Political Culture, Voting age reduction, Civic education, Economic policy, Unemployment

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Fridays, 10am-12pm (during teaching weeks in Semester 1) - otherwise, please arrange meetings via email

I am currently Director of Undergraduate Teaching for the Social Policy subject area and its exchange coordinator

I am a researcher interested in challenging orthodox conceptions of socio-economic analyses and how to enhance and improve different avenues for political participation. I also teach courses and workshops on these matters as well as on (particularly) quantitative research methods. Creating practical applications of my teaching and research work is a major objective for me, which I partially address as Research Director of the think tank d|part. Together with my colleagues Ingela Naumann and Jay Wiggan I co-edit the Journal of Social Policy.

I currently coordinate a six-country study on understandings of and challenges for open societies in Europe, in cooperation with the Open Societies European Policy Institute (OSEPI). You can find details of the project 'Voices on Values' on the project website.

Project grants held

The view from the continent: What people in other member states think about the UK’s EU referendum (PI): ESRC-funded project (£94,000FEC), together with Daniel Kenealy and Christine Hübner (d|part). Results of the project can be accessed here.

Understanding the General Election result in Scotland – a follow up of the 2013/14 SSA (PI): ESRC-funded project (£ 68,000 FEC) (together with Daniel Kenealy and Lindsay Paterson and in collaboration with ScotCen Social Research). Results can be found here.

Public and elite engagement with how the UK is governed (Co-I): ESRC-funded project (£ 119,000 FEC) (together with Lindsay Paterson, Daniel Kenealy and Richard Parry). The results from the research have been compiled in a book published by Palgrave Macmillan: Publics, Elites and Constitutional Change in the UK: A Missed Opportunity? 

Young persons’ attitudes on Scotland’s Constitutional Future (PI): ESRC-funded project (£ 125,000 FEC) (together with Lindsay Paterson, John MacInnes and Michael Rosie). Results from the survey are available here

Understanding views on Scottish Independence using the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey 2014 (PI): ESRC-funded project (£ 91,000 FEC)  (together with John Curtice, Lindsay Paterson and Susan Reid). Results from the work can be obtained here.

Good Lives And Decent Societies (GLADS) Knowledge Exchange Programme (Co-I): Scottish Universities Insight Institute funded series of knowledge exchange events (£ 17,000) (together with Elke Heins and Neil Thin at the University of Edinburgh and a range of external partners). Details can be found here

Young persons' attitudes on Scottish Independence - A survey analysis of 14-17 year olds (Co-I): ESRC-funded project (£ 183,000 FEC)  with Lindsay Paterson, John MacInnes and Michael Rosie

Understanding views on Scottish Independence - An extension of the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (Co-I): ESRC-funded project (£ 197,000 FEC) with Lindsay Paterson, John Curtice and Rachel Ormston

Showcasing Scottish datasets (Co-I): ESRC-funded knowledge exchange and training project (£ 126,000 FEC) with John MacInnes and Susan McVie   

Lehren Lecturer Grant for research-led teaching: Project funded by the Lehren Initiative (Euros 6,600 FEC) for a collaboration with Jacobs University Bremen

Academic publications

Eichhorn, Jan. 2018. Mobilisation through early activation and school engagement – the story from Scotland. Journal of Youth Studies 21(8): 1095-1110.

Eichhorn, Jan. 2018. Votes At 16: New Insights from Scotland on Enfranchisement. Parliamentary Affairs 71(2): 365-391.

Kenealy, Daniel, Eichhorn, Jan, Parry, Richard, Paterson, Lindsay & Remond, Alexandra. 2017. Publics, Elites and Constitutional Change in the UK: A Missed Opportunity? Palgrave Macmillan.

Eichhorn, Jan, Hensing, Jakob & Hübner, Christine. 2016. Economic crisis and democratic legitimacy. In: Voicu, M., Mochmann, I. & Dülmer, H. (Eds). Values, Economic Crisis and Democracy. Abingdon, Oxon & New York, NY: Routledge.

Frommholz, Götz & Eichhorn, Jan. 2015. Politische Partizipation - der Stand der Forschung. In: Düber, M., Rohrmann, A. & Windisch, M. (Eds).  Barrierefreie Partizipation. Entwicklungen, Herausforderungen und Lösungsansätze auf dem Weg zu einer neuen Kultur der Beteiligung. Weinheim: Beltz Juventa. 

Eichhorn, Jan. 2014. The (Non-)Effect of Unemployment Benefits - Variations in the effect of  unemployment on life-satisfaction between EU countries. Social Indicators 119(1): 389-404.

Eichhorn, Jan. 2014. Where Happiness Varies: Recalling Adam Smith to Critically Assess the UK Government Project  Measuring National Well-Being. Sociological Research Online 19(2) 6. 

Eichhorn, Jan. 2013. Unemployment needs context: How societal differences between countries moderate the loss in life-satisfaction for the unemployed. Journal of Happiness Studies 14(6): 1657-1680.

Hensing, Jakob, Hübner, Christine & Eichhorn, Jan. 2013. Make it or break it: what is civil society’s role in European democracy after the financial crisis? Open Citizenship 4(1). 

Eichhorn, Jan. 2012. Happiness for Believers. Contextualising the Effects of Religiosity on Life-Satisfaction. European Sociological Review. 28(5):583-593.

Eichhorn, Jan. 2012. Context matters: The effect of national-level factors on the relationship between socio-demographic characteristics of individuals and their life-satisfaction. World Values Research 5(2): 27-48. 

Dissemination activities

I have engaged in a wide range of dissemination activities to enhance the reach of our work. This has involved developing and running a variety of training courses, often through the Applied Quantitative Methods Network (AQMeN). In addition, I have commented on issues relating to political participation and wellbeing for several UK and international media outlets, including, for example, the Guardian, the Independent, the BBC (through programmes such as Newsnight, Scotland 2014 and Sunday Politics Scotland as well as several radio shows and documentaries) and Skynews, Germany's ZDF (Heute Journal, Heute in Europa, ZDF Spezial), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and Deutschlandfunk, France's Le Monde and France 24, Switzerland's Neue Zürcher Zeitung and SRF, as well as outlets such as CNN, Washington Post or the Globe and Mail. In addition to giving talks at many public events for a variety of organisations, I have also provided briefings/evidence for parts of different politicial bodies, including the Scottish and UK parliaments, the German government and the Scottish and UK governments.    

Most recently a submission of evidence to the Scottish Parliament Committee on the devolution of further powers addressing the issue of 16-17 year old voting and political education in schools, formed a core of the committee's report and its recommendations. The report and evidence can be accessed here


Courses I currently convene:

  • Rethinking the Financial Crisis (1st/2nd year UG)
  • Economic Issues in Public Policy (MSc)

Courses I teach modules on: 

  • Evidence, Politics and Policy (2nd year UG)
  • Understanding Public Policy (2nd year UG)
  • Comparative Analysis of Social and Public Policy (MSc)
  • Listening to Childeren: Research and Consultation (MSc)

I feel very grateful for having been awarded a EUSA (Edinburgh University Students' Association) teaching award for "Teaching with Technology" 2013.


  • BA Integrated Social Sciences, Jacobs University Bremen
  • PhD Sociology, University of Edinburgh

Research interests

Subjective well-being: I am interested in different understandings of well-being, in particular contrasting micro-economic conceptions of (objective) utility with subjective conceptions of well-being. The aim is to better understand how different groups of people define well-being differently in the first place and what factors then contribute to this particular understanding of well-being. I am most interested in assessing how country-level factors (economic, demographic and cultural) moderate the relationships of certain individual-level factors and personal well-being. Applications include the contextualisation of the effects of religiosity and unemployment on life-satisfaction. I use social capital concepts to operationalise differences in people's personal contexts to better understand their embeddedness in particular networks.

Political participation and political culture: My research on political participation engages with the relationship between different forms of political engagement (both traditional and more recent types) and political attitudes with a particular interest in younger people's perspectives. In particular I emphasise the question about how political education in schools should be structured and explore the use of reducing the voting age to 16. I use conceptualisations based on social capital to operationalise the extent and composition of associational membership patterns of people and relate this to their attitudinal orientations. In the context of the financial crisis in Europe I am very much interested in the similarities and differences in political culture across member states of the European Union. 

Survey methodology and innovative methods teaching: I am an active member of the quantitative methods group fo the School of Social and Political Science and engaged in a wide number of activities. Details about the group can be found here. I also contribute to Edinburgh's Q-Step centre for teaching innovation in quantitative methods, details for which can be found here. With regards to quantitative methods I mainly use multilevel and structural equation modelling, mainly in comparative contexts. In addition I also have an interest in focus group analyses. 

Other professional activities

Co-founder and director of research at the think tank d|part aiming to connect academic research and practitioners' work on political participation - d|part Website 

Co-editor of the Journal of Social Policy

Member of the editorial advisory board of Scottish Affairs - Scottish Affairs Website

Topics interested in supervising

I am happy to supervise students interested in research relating to political participation or subjective well-being. Regarding the former, I would be particularly keen to support students who are interested in different formations of socio-political attitudes. Regarding the latter, I am particularly interested in understandings of subjective well-being that challenge orthodox notions of economic utility. More generally I would be keen to engage with students who use concepts relating to social capital in their research, who are interested in exploring understandings of interactions between individual- and society-level processes or who have an interest in innovative survey research.

If you are interested in being supervised by Jan Eichhorn, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Policy; MSc (R) Social Policy