Dr. Mahoney’s research focuses on advocacy and activism; specifically she studies the framing, messaging and strategic decisions of civil society organizations seeking to change public policy. She also directs the Social Entrepreneurship@UVA Initiative.
She is currently working on two large projects. The first looks at global advocacy on behalf of the displaced; studying how organizations at multiple levels of governance attempt to fight for the rights of those forced to flee their homelands due to ethnic and political violence. This research is based, in part, on fieldwork in 7 of the largest protracted displacement crises worldwide (Bhutan, Burma, Colombia, Croatia, Sri Lanka, Somalia and Uganda).
The second is a NSF-funded project using computer-automated content analysis to better understand what types of political frames are successful in shifting public policy debates. This project is based on the textual analysis of thousands of documents put forward in public policy debates in the European Union by hundreds of advocates and interest groups.
Her book Brussels vs. the Beltway: Advocacy in the United States and the European Union (Georgetown University Press, 2008) is the first large-scale comparative study of lobbying in the US and the EU. She is the co-chair of the ECPR Standing Group on Interest Groups; and recipient of the 2011 Emerging Scholar Award from the American Political Science Association’s Political Organizations & Parties section.