Mel Atkinson is associate professor of political science at UNC Charlotte. Her research focuses on questions related to substantive representation in the United States. This overarching interest motivates scholarship in two areas. The first examines how the news media inform public policy opinion, and how public opinion feeds back on the policy-making process. The second examines the impact of gender diversity in the U.S. House on the Congressional agenda and on substantive policy debate. She is the author of Combative Politics: The Media and Public Perceptions of Lawmaking (University of Chicago Press, 2017) and co-author of The Dynamics of Public Opinion (Cambridge, 2021 with Elizabeth Coggins, James Stimson and Frank Baumgartner). She is spending the 2022/23 academic year in Washington D.C. as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow.
Dr. Atkinson teaches an introductory American politics course and upper-level courses on women and politics, media and politics, and issue framing. She is a faculty affiliate of UNCC’s Women and Gender Studies Program, and of the Public Policy Program.
Prior to her academic career, Dr. Atkinson worked as a writer for a K Street communications firm and as a campaign manager in North Carolina. She now studies the impact of the slogans and sound bites she once helped to create.
Atkinson, Mary Layton, K. Elizabeth Coggins, James A. Stimson, and Frank R. Baumgartner. 2021. The Dynamics of Public Opinion. Elements in American Politics. Cambridge University Press.
Atkinson, Mary Layton, Reza Mousavi and Jason H. Windett. “Detecting diverse perspectives: using text analytics to reveal sex differences in congressional debate about defense.” Political Research Quarterly. Forthcoming.
Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2020. “Gender and Policy Agendas in the Post-War House.” Policy Studies Journal. 48(1): 133-156. doi:10.1111/psj.12237
Atkinson, Mary Layton and Jason Harold Windett. 2019. “Gender Stereotypes and the Policy Priorities of Women in Congress” Political Behavior. 41(3): 769–789.
Atkinson, Mary Layton. 2017. Combative Politics: The Media and Public Perceptions of Lawmaking. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Atkinson, Mary Layton, John Lovett and Frank R. Baumgartner. 2014. “Measuring The Media Agenda,” Political Communication, 31(2): 355-380.
Works In Progress
Sex, Race, and the 2020 Democratic Primary Debates. (With Scott Christensen)(Manuscript in preparation).
Gender, Race, and News Coverage of the 2020 Democratic Primaries. (Manuscript in preparation).
Measuring the Ideology of Major Laws. (With Ben Radford)