Political Concepts in the World – The ‘democratic Phoenix’ – are young people changing the meaning of democracy?

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 The ‘democracy Phoenix’ – are young people changing the meaning of democracy?

Young people’s participation in politics, growing across Europe and beyond, has been called a ‘Democratic Phoenix’. Most studies have focused on young people’s motives for participating in politics and on the ways in which they do so, as well as on what institutions are promoting their participation. Just as topic 6 asks whether and how digital media are transforming the meaning of democracy, we invite the ESR to consider how young people’s participation (in conjunction with digital media) may come to change how we understand ‘democracy’, and not simply how we go about it. For example, Miles (2015) understands young people’s participation as ‘a form of theatre in which the self is acted out in order for it to recognise itself in the acting’. What is the ‘self’ that young people are recognising in their acting, and how does it relate to the ‘voting adult’ who has, until now, been usually considered the archetypal democratic subject? And how does this vary across societies, and why? In newer democracies such as Chile, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, it appears that young people give relatively little value to voting, and instead participate through social networks, which have also become their principal source of political information. In contrast, the recent reduction in voting age in Scotland provides an opportunity to engage young people in democratic participation while still at school. The ESR may choose to focus on one or more case studies of young people’s participation and how it bears on ‘democracy’, or may alternatively develop a fresh pedagogy of political participation, on the basis of recent developments.

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
  • Protest, populism and social movements
  • 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 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.