Professor Scott Williamson

Subject: Politics

Academic position: Tutorial Fellow


I joined Magdalen in 2024 from Bocconi University, where I was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social and Political Sciences. Previously, I was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Social Science Division of New York University Abu Dhabi and a Junior Fellow in the Middle East Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I received my PhD in Political Science from Stanford University and my BA in Political Science and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from Indiana University.


I teach courses in politics, including Comparative Political Economy and Comparative Government. I also supervise MPhil and DPhil students. 


Much of my research explores how public opinion interacts with political institutions in authoritarian regimes. I have studied how autocrats use institutions like legislatures and cabinets to protect their popular support, as well as how authoritarian rulers are incentivized by public opinion to govern through specific institutional arrangements. In my book, for instance, I consider how and when autocrats use institutions to shift attributions of blame. Likewise, my UKRI-funded ERC Starting Grant, DEVAL, studies how autocrats try to manipulate popular support for democracy to bolster their own public approval.

Other research focuses on the causes of prejudice and strategies for prejudice reduction, especially concerning refugees and immigrants, as well as public opinion toward foreign aid in both donor and recipient countries. I am particularly interested in the politics of the Middle East.

Selected Publications

For more information on my publications, you can visit my website:

‘Respect the Process: The Public Cost of Unilateral Action in Comparative Perspective.’ The Journal of Politics. Forthcoming. (With Jonathan Chu).

‘Executive Compliance with Parliamentary Powers under Authoritarianism: Evidence from Jordan.’ Governance. Online First. (With Marwa Shalaby).

‘Preaching Politics: How Politicization Undermines Religious Authority in the Middle East.’ British Journal of Political Science. 2023. (With A.Kadir Yildirim, Sharan Grewal, Mirjam Kuenkler).

‘Where’s the Money From? Attitudes toward Donor Countries and Foreign Aid in the Arab World.’ International Studies Quarterly. 2022. (With Renu Singh).

‘Did Egypt’s Post-Uprising Crime Wave Increase Support for Authoritarian Rule?’ Journal of Peace Research. 2022. (With Lisa Blaydes, Alexandra Blackman, Caroline Abadeer).

‘Elections, Legitimacy, and Compliance in Authoritarian Regimes: Evidence from the Arab World.’ Democratization. 2021.

‘Family Matters: How Immigrant Histories Can Promote Inclusion.’ American Political Science Review. 2021. (With Claire Adida, Adeline Lo, Melina Platas, Lauren Prather, and Seth Werfel).

‘Attitudes toward Migrants in a Highly-Impacted Economy: Evidence from the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan.’ Comparative Political Studies. 2021. (With Ala’ Alrababa’h, Andrea Dillon, Dominik Hangartner, Jens Hainmueller, Jeremy Weinstein).

‘Legislatures and Policy Making in Authoritarian Regimes.’ Comparative Political Studies. 2020. (With Beatriz Magaloni).