I believe in utilizing mixed-methods approaches to craft studies with robust theories and straightforward results. To that end, I draw on interdisciplinary literature, extensive case study, and quantitative analysis. As a result, my research explores a wide range of topics that remain rooted in the facts on the ground. These studies deliver socially-conscious findings with practical applications. It is imperative to me as a researcher to generate material that is useful to academics, policymakers, and the public alike.

At the same time, these studies probe deep questions of human belonging, and what it means to belong in a rapidly changing world. In effect, belonging is not just an incentive - it's the incentive, and the key to navigating the globalized world of the 21st century. I am especially drawn to the legacy of religious institutions. Each of my studies falls within the purview of a handful of projects that tackle a broad theme. I have included an overview of these projects here.



Barcelona, 2019

My book-length dissertation, entitled Religion, State, and Modernity: Defining the Contours of Desecularization, uses mixed-methods to analyze the multifaceted relationship between religion and state in the age of globalization. Through a combination of archival research, case study, and quantitative analysis, I find that globalization has decreased positive religious activity, such as service attendance, and facilitated negative religious activity, in the form of attacks on non-believers.  A working paper based on this project is set to be presented at the 2021 International Studies Association Conference. You can read the working paper here

Religion and State in the Age of Globalization

In this project, I expand on the ideas offered in my dissertation to explore the multifaceted relationship between religion, state, and globalization. Religion and state have long competed for adherents, and globalization has shifted the balance. All too often, the heft of this power struggle falls on the heads of minority communities. This project integrates literature across a wide range of fields to illustrate how religion has changed in a globalized world and how government reacts.  As the project expands, I will further examine multilateral shifts that facilitate these trends, focusing on the role of urbanization and migration.

Papers currently under review:

Szendro, Brendan. "When the World Comes to Church: Religious Resurgence as Reaction to Globalization."

Szendro, Brendan. "No Politics Under God: Party Contestation and Religion-State Relations."

Working papers:

Szendro, Brendan. "Is the Religious Resurgence Regional or Sectarian?"

Szendro, Brendan. "Does Social Media Exacerbate Religious Discrimination?"

Szendro, Brendan. "Urbanization Patterns and the Emergence of Vigilantism."

Szendro, Brendan. "The Israeli Approach to Globalization: Learning From Jewish History"

Social Capital In a Changing World

Social capital refers to a community's capacity for collective action. The loss of social capital is associated with all manner of social ills; nevertheless, it remains an underutilized instrument in the social sciences. In this project, I explore both how social capital can prevent social ills as well as the consequences of ignoring social capital as a quintessential political element.

Papers currently under review:

Szendro, Brendan. "Community, Faith, and Public Violence: Assessing the Impact of Religion on Mass Shootings in America."

Working papers:
Szendro, Brendan. "Suicide Rates as Predictors of Hate Group Formation"

Historical Legacies of In-Group-Out-Group Effects

In-group-out-group effects have had far-reaching impacts throughout history; but how do these historical legacies shape the modern day? In this project, I explore how horizontal and vertical inequalities endure and shape how institutions treat those marked as "other".

Working papers:

Szendro, Brendan. "Affluence Threat: Race, Property, and Policing in the United States." Available on SocArXiv.

Szendro, Brendan. "The Outer Darkness: Social Cleavages and Extrajudicial Killing Worldwide."

Szendro, Brendan. "The Legacy of Feudalism in Religious Discrimination."

Szendro, Brendan. "Shooting the Messenger: Jewish Scapegoating in Capitalist Transition."

Future Projects

In the future I would like to integrate the above projects into a comprehensive typology of political communities and their reactions to systemic changes such as globalization; as part of this long-term plan, I hope to further incorporate qualitative methods such as participant observation and interview research. In doing so, I hope to create a blueprint for compromise and coordination between political communities that must work together despite contradictory goals. Beyond topics related to this project, I also hope to eventually develop a social-scientific approach to Autism Spectrum Disorders, focusing on aspects of the Autism Spectrum that subvert long-standing assumptions of human behavior in political communities, including normative and positive political theory alike. Finally, as part of a particularly extensive pet project, I have also spent several years developing a framework for an eventual, comprehensive work surrounding the relationship between religion and state, and how this dynamic has changed over time. 

Case Studies

As part of my commitment to mixed-methods analysis, I have made frequent use of case studies to construct empirical models. These case studies revolve around primary source documents relating to the subjects at hand; I have gathered these materials from state archives, participant observation, and first-hand document collection. In utilizing these case study methods, I can outline connections between theory and the facts on the ground. This ultimately leads to empirical results that have practical application. In doing so, I have also cultivated a wide array of knowledge in regard to these cases. Thus far I have conducted case studies for: The United States, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Afghanistan, and India. In the future, I hope to further conduct case studies of Hungary, Turkey, and Myanmar, among others. Centering critical and empirical analysis on specific cases ensures that political science never strays too far from politics.