(University of Groningen / University Grenoble Alpes)
Project background and rationale
The PhD student will join the EXCEPTIUS consortium, a two-year research project (2020-2022) co-coordinated by the University of Groningen and University of Grenoble-Alpes. EXCEPTIUS analyses exceptional decision-making during the COVID19 pandemic in 32 European countries. The project contributes interdisciplinary knowledge to the study of democratic resilience, by assessing why some democratic systems prove more resilient to crises and which political reforms increase such resilience.
EXCEPTIUS is funded by the Dutch Organization for Health Development and Research (ZonMw, 200k) and also benefits from a seed grant (36k) of several institutions of Grenoble university hub (including the University Grenoble Alpes (UGA), Sciences Po Grenoble, Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, CNRS). The consortium involves some 20 partner universities in Europe.
The recruited PhD student will benefit from the data, interdisciplinary expertise, and international network of the EXCEPTIUS project. In particular, the PhD student will work with a large team of political scientists and sociologists (C.Egger, K. Aarts, E. De Saint Phalle from the UG and R.Magni-Berton and S. Roché from the UGA) and computational linguists (Tommaso Caselli from UG, François Portet and Didier Schwab from the UGA).
For more information about the project, please visit : https://exceptius.com/
Context of the PhD proposal
The COVID19 crisis plausibly opens a new era for crisis-management policies. Climate-induced shocks, economic recession and security crisis are likely to put democratic institutions and social cohesion under stress in the near future. Both the management of the current pandemic and of future crises require people to react in a cooperative manner. This cooperation highly depends on the level of acceptance of emergency decisions and regulations – such as for example, respect social distancing measures – and the belief that others will comply with this rule too (Bargain & Aminjonov 2020)
High levels of cooperation not only reduce the negative impacts of a crisis, but also reduce the costs of implementing and enforcing restrictive measures, such as police controls and stringent lockdowns. Our preliminary research results on pandemic management policies indeed confirm that the level of trust in others and in the government are the main predictors of the level of restriction of freedoms in pandemic times (Egger et al. 2021). However, the legislative data collected so far in the EXCEPTIUS project do not allow to open the black box of such a relationship.
In order to disentangle the relationship between trust and the levels of freedom restrictions, we intend to set up a complementary project aiming to collect data on people’s reaction to crisis-management policies. Based on EXCEPTIUS data on restrictions of freedoms and liberties during the COVID19 crisis, we intend to collect data on people’s behavior before, during and after each policy implemented. Two types of behavior are particularly studied: individual non-compliance and collective protest against the measures.
While non-compliers act in an uncoordinated, anonymous and hidden manner, protests and civil disobedience activities are public, coordinated and associated with explicit claims. These two types of behavior are therefore conceptualized as exit vs. voice (Hirshmann 1970) strategies. Considering that loyalty here means complying with the policies and recommendations, the objectives of this research is to analyze:
1. Which conditions alter the prevalence of exit and voice strategies?
2. How the prevalence of such strategies influence the stringency of crisis-management policies?
The EXCEPTIUS project offers the general framework to develop this research: indicators of the level of the stringency of measures undertaken and the severity of their enforcement are documented each day, at subnational level and in 32 countries during the period running from January 2020 to December 2021. Using these data, this PhD proposal intends to collect further data on three aspects:
1. The prevalence and intensity of exit strategies (operationalized as the level of people’s non-compliance). The main methodological challenge lies in capturing individual behavioral pattern that are not. Possible proxies include data on individual mobility under lockdown and other restrictive measures (Bargain, Aminjonov 2020) . These data are well suited for our research objective since they cover daily movements at the subnational levels. To have a more comprehensive view of people’s compliance, data on self-reported behavior in polls will be used.
2. The prevalence and intensity of voice strategies (operationalized public protests). Some data are published by the Covid-19 Disorders Tracker project, which provides a granular coverage of the pandemic impact on political violence and protest trends around the world . Another useful database is provided by Observatory for Political Conflict and Democracy over Europe (PolDem) , which is already a partner of the EXCEPTIUS team. These data, however, only capture some of the public protests, such as public demonstrations or mob attacks. In order to complete these data with civil disobedience, petitions or op-eds, automated data collection technique will be put in place with the support of computational linguists.
3. Finally, the level of public trust includes the level of interpersonal trust and trust in political institutions. It will be captured in cross-national projects such as the Special European Social Survey on coronavirus , Dalia Research Group, Democracy Perception Index or the Coronabarometer, developed in the Netherlands . Also, national polls on confidence in the government have to be collected. These data are not daily nor subnational, but offer sufficiently points in time to identify several short-term trends.
The recruited PhD student will be an integral member of EXCEPTIUS consortium, coordinate with her supervisors the collection of national protests, collect himself secondary data by collaborating with other close research projects in Europe. This stimulating environment will allow the PhD student to end her thesis project in 3 year. The first year of the project will be dedicated to the refinement of the research design and the collection of data. The second year is dedicated to the quantitative analysis of the data and communications in conferences. During the third year, the PhD student will complete her PhD dissertation which will be defended in Groningen.
The candidate will have a background in political science, economics, sociology or social psychology. Only MA graduates with some research experience are eligible for this position.
While an excellent command of English is required for the position, a preliminary knowledge of other languages (in particular French and Dutch) or a willingness to acquire such skills are an asset.
The successful candidate is intellectually curious and enthusiastic about working in an international team across disciplinary and methodological boundaries. In particular, she has a strong interest in the comparative studying of democratic regimes in Europe and theorizing the effects of crises on democratic stability and legitimacy, as well as an excellent and demonstrable skills in quantitative research designs.
Information about the institutions
The PhD student will be jointly located at the University of Groningen (UG, Graduate School, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences) and at the University of Grenoble (UGA, Ecole Doctorale Sciences de l’Homme, du Politique et du Territoire, Sciences Po Grenoble, Pacte)
The Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences of the UG excels in teaching and research in the fields of behaviour, thinking, learning and how people live together. The Faculty aims for a leading position in studying and solving social issues and problems people encounter in everyday life. Our ambition is to develop and assess scientifically substantiated interventions, in consultation with social parties. The PhD programme of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences is organized by the Graduate School of Behavioural and Social Sciences. We have about 250 PhD students performing research under the supervision of and in close collaboration with renowned scholars.
The UGA was awarded the Initiative of Excellence (Idex) label by the government in 2016. This distinction is reserved for ten or so university sites in France, recognised as world-class centres of excellence in higher education and research. In the heart of a university estate considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe, the UGA is committed to adapting its training offer to the challenges of a constantly changing world: the emphasis is on internationalisation, professionalisation, digital development, and innovation through the creation of new Master’s degree courses. Sciences Po Grenoble offers an ambitious five-year intellectual programme designed to train the decision-makers of tomorrow. Benefiting from the advantages of a “grande école”, this Institute participates, as a component institution with legal personality, in the development of the UGA. The PhD student will be hosted in the Doctoral School “Human, Political, and Territorial Sciences” and in the laboratory Pacte. Both include several disciplines in social sciences and offer opportunities to the PhD students to train, travel and present their research.
The supervision committee of the PhD student will involve:
• at the University of Groningen: Prof Dr Kees Aarts (UG, Political Institutions and Behaviour)
• at the University Grenoble Alpes : Prof Dr Raul Magni-Berton (UGA, Political Science).
The PhD Scholarship student will be enrolled in the PhD Scholarship Programme and receives a scholarship of € 2,207 per month (gross) from the University of Groningen (UG). For more information on the UG PhD Scholarship Programme and its benefits please check the website. (https://www.rug.nl/(…)ditions-application/
The PhD Scholarship contract is offered for three years. A successful candidate will first be offered a temporary contract of one year with the option of renewal for another two years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences. As part of the programme, the PhD student will take part in the Career Perspectives Series, which provides a thorough preparation on the career after the PhD, inside or outside academia. During the course of the doctorate, the student will develop research and, if desired by the candidate, teaching competencies. For this, the PhD student will receive a tailor-made programme.
You can submit your application until 21 October 11:59pm / before 22 October 2021 (CET) by means of the application form (click on « Apply » below on the advertisement on the university website).
Please provide the documents in pdf format.
Candidates must submit the following documents:
1. a letter of motivation of a maximum of two A4 pages, explaining your interest in the project and detailing your suitability for the Scholarship
2. a recent curriculum vitae
3. a copy of your diplomas with a list of course grades and a copy of your master thesis (or equivalent)
4. contact details for two to three personal references
5. a research proposal, including an abstract (150 words), research topic & methodological approach (max 1000 words), scientific & societal relevance (150 words), plus bibliography.
We will only consider applications that include the five requirements listed above. While diplomas and master thesis may be written in national languages, we expect the application to be written in English.
Interviews will be held online on October 27 and 28. The intended starting date is December 1st 2021.
Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.
For information you can contact:
- Prof. Kees Aarts, University of Groningen, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Prof. Raul Magni-Berton, University Grenoble Alpes, email@example.com
- Dr Maike van der Vlugt, general information about PhD scholarships at the Faculty, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.