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Michael Hoffman, Ph.D.

I am an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at The University of Notre Dame. I received my Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2016. My dissertation received the Aaron Wildavsky Award for Best Dissertation in Religion and Politics from the American Political Science Association in 2018. I graduated in 2010 from Notre Dame with a BA in Political Science and Arabic.

Book Project: Faith in Numbers: Communal Prayer, Sectarianism, and Democracy (Under Contract with Oxford University Press)

Why does religion sometimes increase support for democracy and sometimes do just the opposite? In this project, I present a theory of religion, group interest, and democracy. Focusing on communal religion, I demonstrate that the effect of communal prayer on support for democracy depends on the interests of the religious group in question. For members of groups who would benefit from democracy, communal prayer increases support for democratic institutions; for citizens whose groups would lose privileges in the event of democratic reforms, the opposite effect is present. I test these claims both observationally and experimentally using a variety of data sources, including an original nationally-representative survey in Lebanon. I find that communal religion increases the salience of sectarian identity, and therefore pushes respondents' regime attitudes into closer alignment with the interests of their sect.

My work has been published or is forthcoming in Journal of Politics, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Political Behavior, Democratization, Middle East Law and Governance, and elsewhere.

My research interests include:

  • Political Behavior
  • Religion and Politics
  • Democratization and Regime Change
  • Middle Eastern Politics, with an Emphasis on Lebanon
  • Survey Experiments
Baabda, Lebanon, 2014.








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