[URBANTH-L]PhD Scholarships, Groningen

Justin Beaumont j.r.beaumont at rug.nl
Wed Feb 15 13:30:58 EST 2006

**** Please bring these two vacanies to the attention of interested candidates. Apologies for those of you who receive the message more than once ****





Urban and Regional Studies Institute (URSI)

Faculty of Spatial Sciences

University of Groningen

P.O. Box 800

9700 AV Groningen



PhD 1: Undisclosed power relations in local democracy: examining coalitions and implications for social justice

Supervisors: Dr. Justin Beaumont (j.r.beaumong at rug.nl), Prof. dr. G. de Roo (g.de.roo at rug.nl) and Prof. dr. P.H. Pellenbarg (p.h.pellenbarg at frw.rug.nl)


PhD 2: Investigating faith-based organizations and urban social issues from an international comparative perspective

Supervisors: Dr. Justin Beaumont (j.r.beaumong at rug.nl), Prof. dr. P.P.P. Huigen (p.p.p.huigen at rug.nl) and Prof. dr. I. Hutter (i.hutter at rug.nl)



PhD 1:

The aim of the project is to reveal the relation between situation-specific governance arrangements and their consequences in terms of social justice and equity. The research will contribute to our understanding of the parameters that determine urban politics and the way in which they favour or exclude certain actors. Bringing these two relatively distinct and autonomous strands together in an international perspective lies at the core of the project. The significance of governance arrangements in urban renewal projects as well as their diversity around the globe is generally agreed upon. Several contributions show a remarkable variety of local governance arrangements. These arrangements inevitably imply a shift in the distribution of and access to power in political decision-making. This shift can lead to significant problems in urban political systems, as specific actors or groups can become deprived of means to intervene, or at least no longer have their interests acknowledged or taken into account. The question is if and how partnerships or coalitions can and do determine urban politics. How are they constructed, what interests do they have and do they favour the participation of certain groups and exclude others? And if so, what does this mean in terms of social justice and equity in the urban realm? The question how the traditional 'triangle' of actors (state - market - civil society) interacts in practice, in terms of interrelations, coalitions, alliances or networks and what this implies in term of social equity, participation and democratic legitimacy needs to be answered.


The concern of coalitions or partnerships directing local decision-making in relation to problems of social justice has been embedded over time in US literature, while European experiences are only now on the ascendancy. Until now, there is no satisfying argument explaining the absence of such coalitions in Europe. It is claimed that such coalitions might just as well exist, possibly in another shape, operating differently and with specific consequences that stand apart from the US. The research starts from the presumption that we are able to identify certain coalitions in Continental experiences that highly influence local politics, and confine possibilities for participation of certain local actors or groups. The question that becomes relevant is how and why such coalitions differ from American experiences and what this implies for the access power and decision-making. This access is expected to be vital when justice or equity is at stake.


PhD 2:

This project will examine, describe and explain the ambiguous, contested and changing governance characteristics and role of faith-based organizations (FBOs) and social problems in the US, UK and NL. While FBOs are a dominant force in US, it is expected that this role is secondary to the state in the UK and NL. In these latter countries FBOs perform a cradling function as the "underbelly" of the traditional state welfare. Processes of neoliberalization in cities, however, are potentially opening-up greater spaces for FBOs to enter into the fray of political action against injustices. Addressing these issues from a historical and spatial perspective, the project will consider the lessons and practical implications for policy-makers and campaigners for social justice in these countries.


Research shows that FBOs in the US are reaching out into the secular world and 'de-privatizing' in new and sometimes contrasting ways. These organizations are exploring possibilities for mainstream social service provision as well as participating in progressive alliances to contest entrepreneurial politics and for the achievement of social justice in cities. The observed double dynamic simultaneously reflects new urban political opportunities wrought by deepening processes of neoliberalization and the historical specificities of associationist civil society in the US. The two sides of the faith-based action on poverty 'coin' reflect the enduring ideological variety of associational life in the country. To what extent can we speak of similar developments on the European Continent in other countries like The Netherlands and also the UK? In this context, and in all international cases of the project, the project asks what are the sociologies and organizational geographies of FBO politicization. What accounts for the ideological and political ambiguity of FBO activity in the social welfare realm and their changes in time? What are the current activities and roles of FBOs in addressing urban social problems? What role do FBOs have in contemporary processes of welfare reform? To what extent are FBOs implicated in urban policies? And what theoretical and conceptual tools are at our disposal for explaining the hypothesized changing role of FBOs in urban social issues and their variations by socio-institutional context?



Informal enquiries should be sent by email to Dr. Beaumont (j.r.beaumont at rug.nl).


For further information including details about the application process please consult the URSI website (www.rug.nl/ursi/research/promovendi)






Justin Beaumont

Urban and Regional Studies Institute (URSI)

Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen

P.O. Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen


Direct: 00 31 (0)50 363 6910

Secr: -3895/ -3896/ -3897, Fax: -3901

Email: j.r.beaumont at rug.nl

Web: www.justinbeaumont.com/

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