Doctoral dissertations

Hieronder staat het lopend doctoraatsonderzoek aan de vakgroep Sociale Agogiek, alfabetisch op naam van de doctorandi.

Performing kinship with illegalised migrants. Comparing hospitality practices in Brussels and Rome

PhD student: Julija Kekstaite
Summary: While the so-called European migration crisis has been echoed with increasingly hostile EU border policies and anti-migrant rhetoric, it has also prompted many citizens' solidarity initiatives towards migrants across the continent. In this context, hosting migrants at home emerged as a new puzzling and exciting phenomenon. Drawing on ethnographic research methods, this project aims to be one of the first to conduct a systematic analysis of hospitality practices - providing shelter at one's home - and the strong, affective, family-like relations (fictive kinship practices) emerging between migrants illegalised by the State and their urban resident-hosts in Brussels and Rome.
PhD in Sociology
Promoter(s): Robin Vandevoordt, Lesley Hustinx (Sociology/Centre For Social Theory, Ghent University)
Periode of time: November 2021 - November 2025

Social welfare services within and across de facto borders: The role of civil society organisations in Abkhazia and Transnistria

PhD student: Gaëlle Le Pavic
Summary: Processes of globalization seem to cause the blurring of (country) borders and increase interconnection, but at the same time new (country) borders are continuously drawn. The collapse of the Soviet Union created new countries, but also regions that declared independence but are not recognized within the international community. These are called de facto states. This research brings together insights from three disciplines - Social Work, International Relations and Border Studies - to explore the interaction between de facto borders and people's access to social welfare services. We do this by focusing on the role of civil society organizations (CSOs). Although CSOs provide crucial welfare services in the Post-Soviet region, their role and the interaction between their actions and the de facto borders has never been explored. The Post-Soviet de facto states Abkhazia and Transnistria are ideal empirical cases to uncover these interactions.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Ine Lietaert, Fabienne Bossuyt (Department Of Social Work And Social Pedagogy , Ghent University)
Periode of time: October 2020 - January 2024

Lost in transit? Deconstructing the il/legalization of migrants dwelling in European ‘transit zones’.

PhD student: Maud Martens
Summary: In their attempts to regulate migration, Western states have produced and enforced various forms of il/legal status upon migrants. This research project provides a case study of how migrant il/legality is produced in the particular context of North-European transit zones. On the one hand, it examines the socio-legal processes through which state actors force migrants in transit zones into a position of illegality. For instance, how and on what grounds do different states use EU law to refuse and/or circumvent the process of migrants’ asylum applications? What impact does this have on migrants’ onward trajectories? On the other hand, the research looks into the socio-legal support migrants are offered in these zones of transit (either by state actors, civic actors, or among migrants themselves) as these forms of support potentially constitute strategies to counter the illegal status of migrants and legalize their presence instead.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Robin Vandevoordt, Ellen Desmet (Migration Law, Ghent University)
Periode of time: February 2022 - February 2026

Integration as an alternative for split systems in early childhood care and education

PhD student: Lobke Van Lombergen
Summary: The importance of Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) of good quality is growing in interest. In order to guarantee quality, there is an increasing consensus that ECEC should be based on a holistic view of children, as in an integrated system where learning and care are not separate. However, Flanders has a split system with separate institutions for children up to three years old, what we call 'child care', and for children from three to six years old, so called ‘preschool’. This often means a distinction between care and education and has problematic consequences: low accessibility and lack of places in care institution, abrupt transitions, high costs for parents, low qualifications... Through a multiple case study of different projects that aim at an integration between care and education, implications and challenges for the realisation of integrated systems in ECEC are revealed.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Michel Vandenbroeck, Jochen Devlieghere (Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Periode of time: February 2022 - February 2028

The (ab)sense of shared parenthood in foster care

PhD student: Céline Cannaert
Summary: Today, definitions of parenthood are mainly limited to the classical image of the Western middle-class family where biological, social and legal parenthood coincide. Foster care is a challenging case to question that dominant idea given its complicated nature and the ambition to realise ‘shared parenthood’ in order to meet the child's right to parents and family. However, within the existing body of (inter)national foster care research, shared parenthood is mainly defined as a procedural and divided concept and each perspective of the various actors in foster care involved is always studied separately. This project aims to contribute to the international framework of shared parenthood knowledge by 1) theorizing the concept of shared parenthood from a holistic family resemblance approach and 2) empirically examining the different ways in which all various actors in voluntary foster care trajectories involved actually negotiate, perceive and fulfil their (parenting)role in the long run.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Lieselot De Wilde
Periode of time: October 2021 - October 2025

Upbringing in a context of prolonged collective violence

PhD student: Leen De Nutte
Summary: Collective violence can have multiple effects on people’s lives. Even when the overt violence has ceased, its impact persists into the post-conflict era. The upbringing of children is believed to be embedded within context and culture. Consequently, divergent ideas, experiences and meanings exist regarding upbringing, which can be altered by gradual or sudden changes. The impact of collective violence on upbringing has mainly been studied amongst war veterans or ex-combatants. However, little knowledge exists about the impact of collective violence onto upbringing when entire families, over different generations, are living in this context. Furthermore, most studies of parent-child relationships are framed within a Western context. This study therefore wants to explore how caregivers experience, give meaning to, and receive support in the upbringing of children in a context of (past) collective violence, specifically, in Northern Uganda.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn, Lucia De Haene (Parenting and Special Education Research Unit, Ku Leuven)
Periode of time: 2014 - 2022

[un]Certainity after return: Unpacking community expectations, familial geopolitics and [in]formal support for Cameroonian returnees

PhD student: Esseh Wanki Presca
Summary: Migration in Cameroon is often linked to specific expectations towards migrants, particularly with regard to sharing accumulated resources. This research explores how expectations are evaluated after return. More so, to understand how differences in post-return experiences are created, this research takes a holistic approach by considering the characteristics of the socio-cultural, economic and political context of Cameroon. This will be examined at four levels: (1) the expectations of the local community towards returnees, and (2) family perspectives towards return (3) Tactics in navigating the socio-cultural, economic and political uncertainties after return (4) the formal support structures available for returnees. In addition to increasing scientific knowledge, this study will lead to clear recommendations for policy and practice to facilitate reintegration processes.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Ine Lietaert, Ilse Derluyn (Department Of Social Work And Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Periode of time: October 2018 - March 2022

Transparency in Child and Family Social Work

PhD student: Gretl Dons
Summary: The last decades, transparency in social work became a guiding framework. Both in social policy and social work practices. Transparency is a complex and multidimensional concept that takes on different meanings depending on who it is about, who is using it, or the context in which it is used. In this action research, together with practitioners in the various sectors of youth care, the focus is on what pedagogy is being developed in social work practices when it comes to transparency as in the interactions between professionals and service users. We want to explore how child and family social workers make transparency as a basic attitude explicit in their daily practice and what dilemmas they face in this context. The aim is to change practice itself. The setup is a change process in collaboration with those involved with the purpose of theory building.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Rudi Roose, Jan Naert (Social Work, Ghent University)
Periode of time: October 2020 - January 2025

Reclaiming the future? Critical perspectives on social work and policies on undocumented migrants

PhD student: Soline Balet
Summary: The structural exclusion of illegalised migrants from Belgian society, their limited rights and restricted access to social services render it difficult for social workers and volunteers to provide more than just material support, situated in the present. This research project aims to gain a deeper understanding of structural social support practices and specific approaches to socio-legal and psycho-social support through ethnographic research methods. Therefore, the project focuses on local and municipal initiatives that link conditional welfare services, namely shelter, to intensive social counselling towards certain future perspectives for illegalised migrants. At the same time, the research endeavours to encompass how social workers, volunteers and illegalised migrants themselves construct informal forms of social support.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Robin Vandevoordt, Ine Lietaert (Social Work, Ghent University)
Periode of time: October 2021 - October 2025

Revealing the freedom of movement and capacity to aspire of vulnerable youngsters in residential youth care: Towards a socio-spatial citizenship climate

PhD student: Matthias Remmery
Summary: To improve the inclusion and citizenship of youngsters in residential youth care in society, recent research focuses on the development of a positive living group climate. However, this concept limits itself to interpersonal rather than socio-spatial relations and socio-spatial relations and treatment motivation rather than capacity to aspire of youngsters. Therefore, the of the research project is to acquire theoretical and empirical knowledge on the development of a socio-spatial citizenship climate. A socio-spatial lifeworld orientation theory is used to examine how youngsters experience and shape their freedom of movement and their capacity to aspire, related to the question how residential youth care can hinder or enable them to reveal this. A qualitative research approach is used, combining ethnography, mental mapping, biographical interviews and focus groups.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Griet Roets, Rudi Roose (Department Of Social Work And Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Periode of time: November 2021 - October 2025

A socio-spatial approach to innovation in residential care for people with multiple impairments. No one left behind.

PhD student: Vanessa Dermaut
Summary: Unlike the mainstream debate about inclusion and de-institutionalization, a socio-spatial approach departs from the impact of space on relationships and vice-versa. This offers opportunities to rethink residential care as an inclusive community, as a convivial encounter. From this perspective, the evolution of the research context is unraveled and an environmental analysis is performed as an exemplary case. A participatory action research is set up with various stakeholders to open up the research context to an inclusive community. From this socio-spatial research we conclude with general ideas that require a contextual translation.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Griet Roets, Stijn Vandevelde
Periode of time: January 2018 - September 2022

Towards a child-driven understanding of citizenship: children as co-researchers in search of their place in society.

PhD student: Eveline Meylemans
Summary: This research focusses on the place of children in society and in research. The study suggests a social-pedagogical approach to scrutinize young children’s (9-12 years) actual (lived) citizenship experiences in relation to their social, cultural, economic and spatial environments through a qualitative child-driven approach, in which children are enabled as co-researchers throughout the whole research design. In doing so, this study will contribute to (1) the international body of empirical and theoretical knowledge on young children’s actual citizenship; and to (2) the emerging academic field of participatory research with children as co-researchers, aiming to deepen the methodological and ethical dimensions of this approach.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Lieve Bradt, Lieselot De Wilde
Periode of time: November 2021 - November 2025

Role of social work in supporting sense of belonging, lived citizenship and aspirations among ger residents in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

PhD student: Bayartsetseg Terbish
Summary: Internal migration dynamics and circumstances in diverse countries require attention, since their concerns often remain invisible and are only sporadically discussed. Based on an urban ethnography, this doctoral research focuses on internal migrants' pathways and meaning-making in the new settlement area, focusing on a certain "ger" areas in Ulaanbaatar city, Mongolia. In particular, the research is to explore possible social work role in supporting sense of belonging, lived citizenship and aspirations of sub-urban ger residents in Tahilt area, Songinohairhan District. By adopting mulit-disciplinary concepts of sense of belonging, citizenship and aspirations, the study is an effort to further inform social policy, social work theory and practice with migrant population.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Griet Roets, Ine Lietaert
Periode of time: September 2018 - January 2023