Boyte’s research and practical work focuses on civic agency, democracy and populist politics. He is particularly interested in examining what politics are required for ordinary people, especially those steeped in experiences of subordination, to develop the skills and confidence to direct their lives, to shape the world around them, and to democratize power in contemporary societies. Boyte is an architect of the "public work" framework of citizenship, which represents an alternative to state centered liberal citizenship and varieties of communitarian citizenship such as deliberation and associational membership. Boyte was a co-founder, with Elinor Ostrom, Jane Mansbridge, Peter Levine, Rogers Smith, Steve Elkin and Karol Soltan in a day long meeting on "civic studies," a framework of citizenship and politics that seeks to go beyond the liberal-communitarian dispute in political and social theory. Boyte has served as National Coordinator of the American Commonwealth Partnership, a broad alliance of higher education, civic, business and philanthropic groups which worked in collaboration with the White House Office of Public Engagement and the U.S. Department of Education to strengthen higher education as a public good, during 2012, the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act. During the Clinton Administration, he was National Coordinator of New Citizenship, an alliance of civic, higher education, and philanthropic groups which worked in collaboration with the White House Domestic Policy Council to analyze the gap between citizens and government and to propose solutions. He also founded Public Achievement, an international youth civic education initiative, now active in 23 countries, based on the conceptual framework of public work.