Research Projects

Shark Bites & Public Policy

​My research on shark bites and comparative public policy provides ongoing research based on my doctoral research. It is motivated by the way public attitudes, media attention, and the occurrence of human-shark interactions combine to create periods of policy fluctuation or stasis. Central to this analysis is my finding that “we are in the way, not on the menu.” Topics for study include shark culls, shark bite prevention policies, public education, the role of media discourse and the emotionality of the events. I have used mixed methods methodologies to look at these aspects including random experiments, case studies, discourse analysis, and quantitative survey analysis. 


Emotions & the Policy Process

A central theme within my research is the way emotional issues and situations can place pressures on actors and institutions. Indeed, I suggest that there is a relationship between the impacts of emotional environments and institutional arrangements. I have looked at a range of issues including mass shootings (forthcoming article) and comparisons with trucking accidents (in a conference paper with Dr. Chris Walker).


In addition, I have looked at the role of elite actors through the theories and literature on policy entrepreneurship. I have suggested (in a conference paper) that new categories should be considered. Lastly, I have reviewed the way actors may rely on fictional narratives and movies as a way to politically navigate and advantage their situations during highly emotional events. More broadly,  I think it is important to consider the role of movies in influencing public policy and the way movies reflect policy dynamics that can ultimately create norms and public expectations.


LGBT Rights

​My research into lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) rights is informed by both my practitioner experience as a queer cisgendred man, lobbyist, and non-profit executive but also by the important literature on intersectionality. Key elements of intersectionality are noted below.  


The central question driving my research across these areas is how LGBTQI rights have transformed from “loser” political issues to “winning” political issues. This includes a focus on the role of lobbying, policy entrepreneurship, youth empowerment and entrepreneurship, elite actor behavior, grassroots mobilizations, LGBTQI organizations, and the rise of the LGBTQI state-wide movement.


Twinless Twin Support Research

​​One of the areas of my research that focuses on a largely invisible community related to sibling loss, in particular, twins whose twin has died. The death of a sibling is something that is often difficult to discuss personally and to engage around socially. As a result, there may be less research, funding and support afforded to these communities. This research looks at media attention, policy support, and societal engagement.

Research Perspective

Research evidence internationally and my professional experience from the United States and Australia demonstrate that public policies are often made by the powerful to benefit the powerful. My research portfolio is about ensuring the “public” is served by public policy. It comes from years in politics as a staffer, lobbyist, and academic. However, rather than seeing politics as a cynical exercise, I am entirely hopeful. Public policy has changed the world. It can promote policies to help those left behind, bring attention to the invisible, and give power to the powerless. It can inspire citizens to be engaged, shine a light on hidden aspects of the political process, and help hold our political leaders accountable. It can involve stories about an individual’s life experiences and it can highlight quantitative impacts of how real policies impact real people. In short, I am a passionate believer that public policy teaching and research matters.


My personal and professional research focuses on the factors that contribute to policymaking around highly emotional issues and difficult policy questions. In order for public policy to research and tackle the difficult political problems, it is important to understand why certain issues rise on the public agenda and how the nature of a problem informs the ways it is addressed. Examples of this research include policymaking around sexuality and gender identity in the U.S. military, such as the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on lesbians, gays, and bisexuals in the military and separate regulations governing transgender military service. My research also includes analyzing the policy environments and responses to highly charged shark bites and mass shootings. This research can be categorized across four project areas: ​

Welcome to my personal website.

The work and statements here are mine alone and do not represent those of my collaborators or employers.


This site is a hub for my research portfolio, public commentary, and personal interests. 


If you have any questions about my research please feel free to contact me at:


chris@christopherneff.com

Christopher Neff

Putting "the public" in public policy research

Twinless Twin Support Research


This research looks at media attention, policy support, and societal engagement on the largely invisible issue of twin loss.


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Shark Bites

& Public Policy

Emotions & The Policy Process


A central theme within my research is the way emotional issues and situations can place pressures on actors and institutions.


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LGBT

Rights


The central question driving my research here is how LGBTQI rights have transformed from “loser” political issues to “winning” political issues.


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Shark Bites

& Public Policy


Analyzing policy responses, media attention, and social discourse following human-shark interactions.


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