The FSS Dissertation Award seeks to increase the high quality of empirical research in the broad field of social sciences. In substantive terms, there is no restriction on the chosen topic of research. The granting of the FSS Dissertation Award is open to all FSS former PhD students that defended their dissertation in the past two years on the faculty. Each academic department of the FSS may annually nominate one candidate.
Nominations FSS Dissertation Award 2021
Ludo Glimmerveen (Organization Sciences)
Citizen Participation: Bargaining over boundaries in the organization of care services — Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (vu.nl)
Hailed as a way to grant citizens more control over the services they use, advocates portray citizen participation as a crucial ingredient for service improvement. Still, despite widespread support for participation as a policy imperative, its pursuit often proves contentious. Critics consider participatory efforts to be something of a Trojan horse, used to legitimize decisions that have already been made or to compensate for cutbacks in public spending. Glimmerveen’s doctoral thesis investigates how such disparate accounts of citizen participation—and the organizational practices associated with them—interact within concrete participatory efforts. Approaching participatory efforts as instances of boundary work, Glimmerveen focuses on the inclusionary and exclusionary actions that open up or narrow down the space available for participation. This reveals the power dynamics that too often remain obscured or simplified in accounts that treat participation as a service improvement panacea or, alternatively, as a cynical attempt to co-opt citizens.
Jesse Jonkman (Social and Cultural Anthropology)
Underground Politics: Socio-Territorial Relations, Citizenship, and State Formation in Gold-Mining Regions in Chocó, Colombia — Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (vu.nl) [fully embargoed dissertation]
Drawing on 13 months of fieldwork, this dissertation zooms in on the underground politics of small-scale gold mining in Chocó, Colombia. It tells the story of a heterogeneous miner population that has become increasingly sidelined by legislation. Moving beyond the tropes of unruliness that generally surround these people, the ultimate purpose of the dissertation is to flesh out the forms of socio-political order that arise in an area commonly portrayed as a zone of disorder. The dissertation weaves together an analysis of three distinct, yet interrelated, research themes, namely socio-territorial relations, political subjectivities, and bottom-up state-making. First, it illustrates the socio-territorial relations that emerge in strongly informalized mining regions. Second, it draws the contours of Colombia’s political climate of neoliberal extractivism and shows how this climate influences miners’ everyday experiences of citizenship. And third, it uncovers the bottom-up forms of state formation that persist in Chocó’s goldfields despite rampant informalization.
Margo van Kemenade (Communication Science)
Moral Concerns of Caregivers about Social Robots in Eldercare — Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (vu.nl)
The Netherlands is ageing. There is not enough healthcare staff. The use of care robots could be a solution. Many healthcare providers fear that health care will be “dehumanized” if robots take over care tasks. If healthcare providers would experience that the use of care robots may actually improve the quality of care, including human contact, this will promote the use of robot technology. Facilitating direct contact between health care providers and care robots is given as a practical recommendation to mbo and hbo vocational courses. Setting up so-called Living Labs and offering lessons in ethics of care technology in the curriculum of care education can also be part of of a well-considered introduction of care technology.
This dissertation shows that the use of robot technology does not dehumanize care, but rather brings the human touch back into care relationships, because the robot can take over some demanding care tasks.
Lucille Mattijssen (Sociology)
Non-standard Employment: Prospect or Precarity? — Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (vu.nl)
Non-standard employment: Prospect or Precarity? – Lucille Mattijssen The strong increase in the share of non-standard employment – employment with a fixed-term, on-call or temporary work agency contract – in the Dutch labour market has raised the question to what extent non-standard employment offers prospects of stable, permanent employment, or results in a precarious cycle of repeated, low-paying non-standard jobs. In this dissertation, I aim to answer that question by analysing the careers of workers who enter non-standard employment in the Netherlands. Using register data from Statistics Netherlands, I apply a processual approach that allows for determining the quality of full careers based on the employment security and income security they provide workers. The results show that the outcomes of non-standard employment for workers’ careers are much more diverse than originally thought. Next to this, I look into potential explanations for the outcomes of non-standard employment from three perspectives: the economic, the sociological, and the human resources perspectives.
Biejan Poor Toulabi (Political Science and Public Administration)
The Myth of the Poor Man's Atomic Bomb and the Politics of Proliferation: Knowledge, Method, and Ideology in the Study of Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear Weapons — Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (vu.nl)
Preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction has been an important policy priority in the past decades. In his dissertation, Biejan Poor Toulabi questions the prevailing view that chemical and biological weapons (CBWs) are a ‘poor man’s atomic bomb’ that exert particular attraction on ‘developing countries’ that cannot acquire nuclear weapons.
Poor Toulabi shows that vague, unverifiable, and inflated threat assessments from U.S. government sources play an important role in sustaining this myth. Through a unique dataset of CBW development programs in the period 1946-2010, Poor Toulabi shows that significantly fewer countries have had CBW programs than often thought and that especially ‘Third World’ countries have been incorrectly accused of pursuing or possessing CBWs.
Finally, the dissertation shows that the drivers behind CBW programs are more complex than commonly assumed. For instance, foreign military threats are less central in CBW decisions than thought, with the popular idea that states treat these weapons as replacements for nuclear weapons proving especially inaccurate.