Challenges in trade policy and trade agreements (from gender, environment to digital services)
Brexit, COVID-19’s impact on supply chains and recent trade wars have all highlighted the vulnerability of global trade relations. At a time when states' economies are interlinked through trade agreements, and where states continue to negotiate new agreements, trade should be simpler than ever.
However, that’s often not the case. The environmental and social implications of trade, concerns over-dependence on other states and the potential for modern trade agreements to limit domestic policy space have heightened contestation of trade policy across the globe.
This project will explore how different models of environmental, social or gender chapters in trade agreements work in practice, and how trade actors attempt to impose their regulations on others to make trade fairer and more sustainable.
For an informal discussion about this area of research contact email@example.com
Conflict, peace-building and social protection in fragile states
98% of global conflict fatalities of the past 25 years have taken place in fragile states, while almost all countries with extreme poverty and hunger are fragile conflict states. Understanding the causal linkages and the mutual constitution of poverty, conflict and state fragility is therefore essential regardless of whether we study poverty, state fragility or conflict. Research on the interaction of these three elements is the core focus of a number of staff members of the Department of Politics, Languages & International Relations and the Department of Social & Policy Sciences. Consequently, focusing PhD research on a theme that looks at one or several of these themes in the context of the interaction between poverty, conflict and state fragility implies that the project will be supported by an existing research community eager to interact and exchange ideas.
For an informal discussion about this area of research contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Fear and loathing in the age of Covid
COVID-19 has served to concentrate and accelerate a number of existing social trends (particularly prevalent in the West), among which are those that some sociologists have come to characterise as 'a culture of fear' (Furedi, 1997), and others as a growing gulf between 'the intellectuals and the masses' (Carey, 1992).
The purpose of this project will be to explore the extent to which these two extant tendencies have come to shape the narrative surrounding the pandemic. There is no need for expertise in virology (aside from a general interest in, and an ability to engage with, scientific literature). Rather the student would come versed with an understanding of cultural drivers, such as the politics of fear, the sociology of health, and risk analysis, as well as authors as diverse as Bourdieu (1984) and Lasch (1979).
Subsequent to a detailed literature review and scoping process, the intention is to explore the extent to which these two tendencies - fear and loathing - have served to drive responses within the parameters of ongoing ambiguity and uncertainty.
For an informal discussion about this area of research contact email@example.com
Practices, rhetorics, and visions of low-carbon societies
As humanity experiences an ecological emergency, we’ve witnessed the emergence of a wide range of views on how to address the challenges related to it. The idea that it is time to transition to 'low-carbon' societies is promoted as common sense among policymakers, international organisations, and activists, yet there is no concrete vision of how this is to be achieved.
Although for some agents of change it is technology that will eventually provide solutions to problems related to climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification and so on, for others 'change' is something that relates first and foremost to economic and social structures.
This project will analyse political and social aspects related to the profound changes needed on the local, regional, national and international level; and conceptual, theoretical and empirical aspects of social mobilisations that seek to enact these changes.
[Dr Oscar Berglund], University of Bristol
For an informal discussion about this area of research contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Self-determination, separatist mobilisation and civil war
Separatism is on the rise. In places around the world including Scotland, Catalonia, Chechnya, Kurdistan, and Aceh, people are clamouring for increased autonomy or even outright secession. While many of these conflicts are not violent, too many take violent forms.
Separatism accounts for more than a third of all civil wars since 1945 and, as demonstrated by Ukraine, Kashmir, and Ethiopia, it can also sow the seeds for major inter-state disputes. Despite its high policy relevance, the causes of violent and non-violent separatism remain poorly understood.
The project will leverage new high-quality large-N data on self-determination movements (SDMs) to investigate the correlates of separatist mobilisation and the escalation of separatist conflicts from nonviolence to violence.
This project will leverage new, fully geo-referenced data which corrects the selection bias that characterises previous efforts to code SDMs, while also including detailed information on government reactions to SDMs. This combination aims to enable the global study of the consequences of repression and other conflict dynamics.
The findings of the project will contribute to the scientific debate on the causes of violent and nonviolent separatism.
For an informal discussion about this area of research contact email@example.com
Women’s roles in parliaments across the globe
While women’s descriptive representation in politics has increased significantly during the last few decades, women are still underrepresented in most countries around the world. In addition, women tend to have different 'roles' in parliament compared with men once elected. For example, some research has shown that women are less likely to chair parliamentary committees – a key role in parliament - than men. Moreover, women tend to be more likely to be member of (and chair) committees related to inequality and social issues, such as health, education, welfare or the environment. By contrast, women have been found to be under-represented on committees with foreign affairs, employment, business and economics. The latter are also seen as the most prestigious and powerful committees.
The aim of the current project is to investigate women’s and men’s roles in parliament in a cross-national study, including countries with various levels of female representation and various electoral systems. Conducting a quantitative analysis, the project will explore to what extent gender segregation in parliamentary roles occurs and how that can be explained by contextual factors such as women’s representation in parliament. It will also look at party differences and investigate to what extent and how gendered patterns in parliamentary roles differ between parties (in different countries). In addition, a qualitative analysis - focusing on the UK - will investigate why women are less likely to take up certain roles. Thinking, for example, about parliamentary committee membership: are women less likely to be member of certain committees because they are asked to be members of those committees or because they prefer being on those committees? To that end, female Members of Parliament and members of the party leadership will be interviewed.
Professor Hilde Coffé, Senior Lecturer
For an informal discussion about this area of research contact firstname.lastname@example.org