Jones teaches courses on public opinion, campaigns and elections, and parties and interest groups. As a member of the LGBTQ community, Jones brings insight into his class on LGBTQ politics. "I love teaching LGBTQ politics because it's a subject that isn't taught. For most of my students, they don't know very much about it."
Jones is particularly interested in exploring how small groups function and succeed within a democracy. "The question is how do small groups get anything? How do small, disliked groups get anything?" Such group success may seem surprising. "LGBTQ people are like 5 percent of the population and for most of history have been deeply disliked, hated and ostracized. Yet we have some pretty big wins out of a democracy. That seems like it shouldn't happen and is sort of an interesting question."
Jones is currently researching political diversity among LGBTQ Americans; mainstream society's support for LGBTQ rights; and factors that affect public support for transgender identity. In his working paper on "Respectability Politics and Straight Support for LGBTQ Rights," Jones examines the effectiveness of normalizing messaging to the general public. "For a long-time the LGBTQ movement has tried to say that queer people are just the same as straight people, we are exactly alike, we are no different from you all, therefore you should give us rights. They have carefully vetted who can take court cases, who can speak to the media to present this suburban normative idea to the world. Nobody has tested whether that really matters."
His findings dispel the idea such messaging matters to the general public. Jones believes that some individuals within the LBGTQ community have become marginalized as a result. "There is a non-trivial part of the LGBTQ community who feels they got sidelined. Anybody who was in anything that looked like a non-traditional relationship was told to get off the stage, not to talk to the media, not to take court cases, not to show up for photo opportunities." Jones said. "I think finding that it doesn't matter whether they are presented to the public or not is important. It means that maybe we can let them back in."
To learn more about Jones's published research, visit http://www.pejones.org/research/, https://www.cpc.udel.edu/research/publications, and the CPC's March 2019 news story. He also tweets regularly @PhilEJones.