Robert Mattes

Robert Mattes

Robert Mattes is a Professor of Political Studies, general postgraduate convenor, and programme convenor of the Political Science postgraduate programme.

Research Interests and Publications

Over the past decade his research has focused on democratization in South Africa and across the African continent, focussing specifically on the role of public attitudes, voting and elections. 

He is the co-author (with Michael Bratton and E. Gyimah-Boadi) of Public Opinion, Democracy and Market Reform in Africa(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005) and author of The Election Book: Judgement and Choice In the 1994 South African Election (Cape Town: Idasa, 1996).

He has also authored or co-authored articles in leading international journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, World Development, Journal of Democracy, Democratization, and Party Politics. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1992).

Copies of Selected Recent Articles

The Material and Political Bases of Lived Poverty in Africa: Insights From the Afrobarometer.”  In Barometers of  Quality of Life Around the Globe: How Are We Doing?, edited by Valerie Møller, Dennis Huschka & Alex Michalos.  Springer Science Business Media B.V., 2008, pp. 161-186.  ISBN: 978-1-4020-8685-4.

"Public Opinion Research in Emerging Democracies: Are the Processes Different?", in The Handbook of Public Opinion Research, edited by Wolfgang Donsbach & Michael Traugott, London: Sage Publications, 2007, pp. 113-122.

(with Namhla Mniki) "Restless Minds: South African Students and the Brain Drain.", Development Southern Africa (Vol. 24 no. 1, March 2007).

(with Michael Bratton) “Learning About Democracy in Africa: Performance, Awareness and Experience.”,  American Journal of Political Science  51/1 (January 2007): pp. 192-217.  ISSN: 0092-5853.

How does SA compare?: Experiences of Crime and Policing in an African Context.”, SA Crime Quarterly 18 (December 2006).

Good News and Bad: Public Perceptions of Crime, Corruption and Government.”  SA Crime Quarterly 18 (December 2006)

(with Roger Southall) "Popular Attitudes Towards the South African Electoral System.", Democratisation 11/1 (2004): 51-76.

(with Michael Bratton) "Support for Economic Reform?  Popular Attitudes in Southern Africa.", World Development 31/2(February 2003): pp. 303-323.

"Democracy without the People: Institutions, Economics and Public Opinion in South Africa.", Journal of Democracy 13/1(January 2002), pp. 22-36.

(with Donald Taylor, David McDonald, Abigail Poore and Wayne Richmond) "Still Waiting for the Barbarians: SA Attitudes to Immigrants and Immigration.", Southern African Migration Project, Migration Policy Series, no. 14. Cape Town: SAMP, 1999.

(with Wayne Richmond) "The Brain Drain: What do Skilled South Africans Think?", in Losing Our Minds: Skills Migration and the South African Brain Drain.  South African Migration Project, Migration Policy Series, no. 18. Cape Town: SAMP, 2000.

(with Jonathan Crush and Wayne Richmond) "The Brain Gain: Skilled Migrants and Immigration Policy in Post-Apartheid South Africa.", South African Migration Project, Migration Policy Series, no. 21. Cape Town: SAMP, 2001.

Projects and Data

He is involved in a range of ongoing data collection projects in which interested post graduate students might be able to work, and / or use data for their own research.

He is a co-founder and a Deputy Director of the Afrobarometer, a regular survey of Africans' attitudes toward democracy, markets and civil society conducted in up to 8 countries across the continent.

He is also a Principal Investigator in the African Legislatures Project, which aims to collect systematic data on the powers, resources of African parliaments and the attitudes and values of members of African Parliaments.

And he is the South African principal investigator of the Comparative National Elections Project, which conducts post election surveys in over two dozen countries across the world.  As part of this project, the South African team conducted a post election survey in 2004, as well as a systematic content analysis of news media coverage of the campaign for the 2004 election.

A wide arrange of data from these projects is or will be available to students and other scholars through the DataFirst Resource Centre.

Contact Details

  • Physical Address: Room 5.22, Robert Leslie Building, Upper Campus
  • Postal Address: Department of Political Studies, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch 7700.
  • Telephone: +27 21 650-3827, Fax +27 21 650-3799

  • Email: