Political Concepts in the World – Protest, populism and social concepts

The University of Aberdeen, in collaboration with the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme, is delighted to offer 6 Early Stage Researcher (PhD) positions, lasting 3 years starting in September 2019, for ground-breaking research on how political concepts, such as nation, citizenship, civil society and rule of law, are used in the world.

ESRs will complete a PhD with an inter-disciplinary supervisory team and benefit from a world-class training programme, including placements with one or more of our 23 international partners.  They will also actively participate in the activities of the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and the Rule of Law (CISRUL). We welcome applicants from across the social sciences and humanities, including anthropology, cultural and literary studies, education, history, legal theory and socio-legal studies, philosophy, politics, religious studies, sociology, and theology.

ESRs will be employed by the University on a salary of £26,489.40 per annum, and will be eligible for a range of additional benefits including ample travel and research funding.

One of the topics that we invite applicants to consider is Protest, populism and social movements. The Arab Uprisings challenged preconceptions about socio-political systems in the Middle East and the conceptual toolkit used to analyse them. Along with other new social and political movements such as Occupy, 15M, etc., they invite a re- examination of the key concepts, such as democracy and social justice, which were invoked by these movements. They invite new definitions of “populism” involving direct on line as well as other kinds of communication, including twitter as a way of bypassing conventional political channels (used extensively,  for example, for example by Donald Trump). Populist movements of all political persuasions communicate their ideas directly rather than through conventional political parties.  The use of online and social media has helped to transmit and transform communications in these movements with impacts elsewhere in politics.  Faced with these movements’ pressing and popular demands, the inadequacy of scholar and policy frameworks was all too apparent. What was meant by ‘democracy’ and how is this reflected in the protests taking place? How does the “fake news” and emotionalism of debate impact on conventional politics? What indeed can scholars learn from these different ways of articulating protest? These tools are also to help regenerate democracy through controlling corruption, improving citizen information, enhancing democratic education in schools, and exposing government wrong doing The PhD may choose one or more contemporary political movements, focusing on the key concepts deployed as well as how these were taken up by existing or new political regimes.  It is hoped the PhD will also reflect in turn on how scholars, politicians and policy makers should adapt their analytical framework.

Other indicative topics listed in the Further Particulars are

  • “We the people” beyond the nation-state
  • The “nation” resurgent?
  • Traditions of “citizenship” within and beyond Europe
  • Rule of law and constitutionalism
  • Sovereignty and the state
  • Teaching political concepts in post-truth times
  • The ‘democracy Phoenix’ – are young people changing the meaning of democracy
  • Digitalising ‘democracy’ – transforming the concept?
  • Civility and understanding the political
  • ‘Radicalisation’, ‘extremism’ and the role of ‘civil society’
  • Conceptualizing secularism, post-secularism and religion itself
  • The politics of ‘religious pluralism
  • Horizons of the ‘political’

These are indicative topics – applicants are free to propose their own projects on how political concepts are used in the world.

Candidates are required to meet the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher eligibility criteria. In particular, at the time of the appointment candidates must have had less than 4 years full-time equivalent research experience and must not have already obtained a PhD.

Additionally, they must not have resided in the UK for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the appointment.

Any appointment will be offered a contract of employment that will be conditional upon satisfactory references, a 12 month probation period, the fulfilment of any conditions specified in the offer of a place on a PhD programme, and confirmation of the right to work in the UK and ability to secure a valid visa, if required, from UK Visas and Immigration.

Deadline is 5th March 2019. Please click here for Further Particulars and details of how to apply.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 754326.