Johnnie Lotesta

Johnnie Lotesta

Democracy Postdoctoral Fellow AY 2019-2021
Political parties, policy change & divergence, postwar conservatism, labor & social movements
Lotesta Picture

Johnnie is a Democracy Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Brown University in 2019. Johnnie’s research focuses on political power and inequality in the United States, and she is particularly interested in political parties, postwar conservatism, labor and social movements, organized interest groups, public policy, and legislative politics. Preliminarily titled Rightward in the Rustbelt: How Conservatives Remade the GOP, 1947-2012, Johnnie’s book project examines the Republican Party’s shift to the ideological right at the state level. It does so through a comparative historical analysis of right-to-work laws in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Using temporal and cross-case comparison, Rightward in the Rustbelt outlines key shifts in the organizational environments surrounding American party politics over the late twentieth century, and it explains how these shifts created opportunities for conservatives to advance anti-union legislation once thought impossible to pass in the Industrial Midwest.

In other projects, Johnnie studies how policy experts and political professionals inform elected officials’ understandings of ‘the public’ and the problems it faces. She is also working with an interdisciplinary team of scholars and a group of racially and ethnically diverse organizers on a mixed-methods project to assess how social movement participation affects young people’s voting-related attitudes and behaviors. Her published work has appeared in Research in Political Sociology and the American Journal of Cultural Sociology, among other outlets. 

Johnnie’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the Brown University BEO Program, the Tobin Project, and the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2020, the Comparative Historical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association awarded Johnnie the Theda Skocpol Award for Best Dissertation.

Johnnie is committed to advancing public scholarship that will inform a more equitable, inclusive, and robust democracy. She enjoys writing for public outlets and organizing the Ash Center’s Labor Politics workshop. You can find Johnnie’s CV here.