Political Concepts in the World – ‘Radicalisation’, ‘extremism’ and the role of ‘civil society’

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 ‘Radicalisation’, ‘extremism’ and the role of ‘civil society’

The social or political movements at the core of fields 5 and 6 sometimes identify or are identified as ‘civil society’, especially since this Enlightenment term made a comeback in the 1990s. In the past decade, though, some movements have come to risk being accused of ‘radicalisation’ or ‘extremism’, even if these terms are used primarily to single out Islamic jihadist groups. This topic will examine a) the twin concepts of ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ which, despite their ambiguity, have become key terms of global politics, and b) the similarly slippery concept of ‘civil society,’ which is sometimes presented as a bulwark against ‘radicalisation’. PhDs may choose to refine and apply such concepts, for example by investigating why some movements choose to engage in extralegal forms of protest, ranging from civil disobedience and activism to terrorism? The PhD may go on to consider how less radical movements, which may identify as ‘civil society’, react to the choice of extra-legal strategies, and with what consequences. Here, one possibility is to compare movements that are generally studied in isolation, such as far right nationalism (topic 1), the Arab Springs or Occupy movements (topic 5) and Islamic radicalisation (topic 11). An alternative is to consider how policy-makers, social  movements, media commentators and academic analysts alike develop and deploy such concepts as ‘radicalization’, ‘extremism’ and ‘civil society’, and with what consequences.

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
  • Protest, populism and social movements
  • Digitalising ‘democracy’ – transforming the concept?
  • Civility and understanding the political
  • 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.

These posts do not meet the minimum requirements as stipulated by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) to qualify for an employer-sponsored visa. We are therefore unable to consider applications from candidates who would require an employer-sponsored visa to work in the UK.

Deadline is 5th of 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.