Alasdair Stanton

PhD title: Hierarchy and complexity: Chinese environmental governance, 2008-2018.


Alasdair Stanton is a Philosophy (MA, Glasgow) and Politics (MSc Research, Edinburgh) graduate interested in research around complexity, especially the interplay of hierarchy and randomness in human groups. Alasdair's dissertation on 'complexity in international negotiation' uses two definitions of complexity; computational difficulty, and complex network to analyse negotiation length. These definitions can be used together to triangulate a rough measure of 'negotiation complexity'.

Alasdair is a PhD student in Politics, using complex networks to analyse Chinese environmental governance. Alasdair is a fluent Mandarin speaker, having worked in China for eight years. His research centres on the implementation gap between policies passed by the Party leadership in Beijing, and how these policies are enacted on the ground, particularly in rural areas. On paper, the governance structure of China consists of a tree-hierarchy. Yet the behaviour of officials is far less efficient than that structure would suggest. He is therefore looking at how multiple governing bodies interact to create confusion and 'wiggle room' for officials on the ground to disregard environmental targets.

MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit logo 800 wide