PhDs and Postdocs
Joost Oude Groeniger
Stratification and Health
The Cultural-Sociological Study of Tolerance
The Education Gap in Distrust in Politicians
Josje ten Kate
The Education Gap in Distrust in Scientists
The State of Local Welfare
According to Skelcher et al. (2005), local governance arrangements embody a tension between two principles: effective democratic guidance and control to assure the public interest is served and effective program delivery to increase community welfare. There are at least two potential democratic deficits in local welfare systems. The first occurs because in local welfare systems local, regional, and national actors collaborate. In these multi-level arrangements, democratic participation and accountability tend to be weak (see for instance Bekkers et al., 2007; Skelcher, 2005). The second potential democratic deficit occurs in partnerships between public, private and non-profit organizations, where political participation and accountability are often indirect (Sørensen, 2005).
Simultaneously, local welfare systems are usually very recognizable, close to citizens, more open and transparent than large, national bureaucracies that implement social services. Therefore, local welfare systems may also give rise to new or improved forms of political participation and accountability. Therefore, the following research questions may be formulated:
- How are political participation and accountability organized in a variety of local welfare settings?
- How can these arrangements be assessed in terms of democratic legitimacy?
- Which challenges and best practices can be identified for political participation and accountability in local welfare systems?
- How does the transformation to local welfare systems affect solidarity and social cohesion in local communities?
"Us Know Who is to Blame”: Popular Political Discontents in the Netherlands
Photo: Joia de Jong
In his PhD project Roy Kemmers studies contemporary popular discontents about politics by taking a cultural sociological perspective. With this project he aims to develop a theory about political discontents that emphasizes the importance of ordinary people’s own definitions of the situations they find themselves (and society) in. In different parts of his dissertation he analyses the different types of political discontents that can be found in the letters to the editor of Dutch popular newspaper De Telegraaf; the socialization of discontented citizens into (what he refers to as) their ‘anti-establishment careers’; and the differences between populist party voters and nonvoters in their subjective abilities to perform meaningfully in politics, in short whether political discontents are ‘channelled’ by populist parties.
Through these efforts, Roy engages theory on populism, political distrust and participation, and deviance. Taken together, these different analyses inspire both a problematisation of the exclusive focus on the institutional-political domain of many relevant theories, and an inductive theorization of those popular meaning-making processes.