Philip Howe

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2011/2012
discipline Political Science
Associate Professor and Fulbright Program Advisor at the Adrian College Michigan, Department of Political Science

Research project

Well-Tempered Discontent: democratic institutions and inter-ethnic cooperation in a multinational empire


My primary purpose is to complete the manuscript for my book Well-Tempered Discontent. This book tests competing theories of political behavior in ethnically divided societies by examining Parliament and parliamentary elections in the Western half of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (“Austria”) between 1867 and 1918. Exceptionalist theories of ethnic group conflict view ethnic loyalties as uniquely strong and disruptive. Non-exceptionalist theories, such as those found in the literature on comparative democratic institutions, view ethnic divisions as simply yet another potential source of political cleavage. These theories thereby produce diverging recommendations for democratic institutional design in ethnically divided societies, specifically with regards to consociationalism. Since Austria gradually implemented universal manhood suffrage in the decades before World War I, and was characterized by extreme ethno-national heterogeneity, it provides an excellent opportunity to examine the effects of ethnic divisions on political behavior in a variety of institutional and demographic contexts.


Careful examination of the interaction between political institutions and ethnic divisions in Austria affirms the non-exceptionalist position. District-level votes were no more likely to reflect ethnic than other societal cleavages, and the resulting party system was no more divided along ethnic lines than it was along urban-rural, regional, religious-secular, socio-economic and ideological ones. Furthermore, the Austrian Parliament proved itself more capable of multi-ethnic legislative compromise than often is acknowledged. Several findings force us to reconsider a case that is central to current understandings of nations and nationalism and East Central European political development.


This project is highly interdisciplinary, and is intended for a wide variety of readers within both political science and history. Methodologically, it draws on a variety of quantitative and qualitative approaches. These include assembling and analyzing detailed electoral, demographic, and legislative data-sets as well as archival research. Thematically, it deals with the perennial issues of nationalism, ethnic group politics and democratization. It addresses a number of debates within political science, including disputes about consociationalism, institutional engineering, group conflict and rational choice theory, and the relative significance of institutions and socio-cultural characteristics. It is also relevant to East Central European area specialists, in that it places divergent national and party histories back in their shared historical and institutional context.


As a related project, I am co-editing a book with historian Daniel E. Miller tentatively entitled Consociationalism in Central Europe



Since 2005, Philip Howe is Associate Professor and Fulbright Program Advisor at the Adrian College Michigan, Department of Political Science. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.

Selected publications


'Electoral Institutions and Ethnic Group Politics in Austria, 1867-1914', Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, vol. 16, no. 2, Summer 2010.


'Voting across Ethnic Lines in Late Imperial Austria', Nations and Nationalism, vol. 16, no. 2, April 2010.


'Ethnic Demographic Patterns, Electoral Institutions and Voting Behavior in the Developing World', Section 20, Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting, April 2010.


'Clubs, Associations and Cleavages in the Austrian Parliament, 1907-1918', Section 51-3, Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting, April 2008.


junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline Media
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline Art History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline Law
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen (IWM)
discipline Literature