Dr. Dan Paget is a Lecturer in Politics at the University of Aberdeen. He studies African electoral politics, political communication and political discourse. He is currently writing a book about rallies and electioneering in sub-Saharan Africa. He completed his doctorate at the University of Oxford. He has previously held posts at University College London and the School of Oriental and African Studies.
His research falls at the juncture of contemporary political ideologies and political communication. He interprets the meanings which political parties publicly communicate in electoral-authoritarian regime, often in defence or critique of electoral-authoritarian regimes, and almost invariably as part of contestations of what democracy is and should be. He analyses the systems of meaning which they articulate through the lens of ideology.
Some of those ideologies are, erroneously, designated as populist. He argues that many supposed authoritarian populists present themselves as elite leaders of people. The ideas of hierarchy and leader superiority which they articulate at odds with the populist notion of 'the elite' as the enemy. They offer authoritarian visions of state, but not ones based on populist ideas of representation, but their self-presentation as guardian-rulers. He calls them elitist plebeians.
Others are the ideologies of democratic movements in authoritarian states. Their ideas have often been dismissed as just 'democratic' or simply not worthy of analysis as political thought. He analyses the public messages articulated by Chadema in Tanzania and the CCC in Zimbabwe. He argues that they articulate original, homegrown ideologies which creatively blend ideas from republican, liberation and human rights political thought.
He also focuses on the extraordinary importance of mass rallies in political communication. The rally is often relegated to the past, but he argues that in much of the world, it plays a crucial role in face-to-face and mediated political communication alike. In fact, He argues that in Tanzania, much of Africa and many places like it around the world, election campaigns are what he calls rally-intensive. In his book project, he analyses what meanings are made at and mediated through rallies by parties, speakers, audiences and media alike.
Finally he focuses on political parties. He studies how parties organise. In particular, he focuses on opposition party-building. He also studies how the capitalisation of rallies drive ever-higher election campaign expenditure.