Doctoral dissertations

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

The Convoluted Experiences of Young, Nigerian Victims of Trafficking Along Their Migration Trajectories

PhD student: Sarah Adeyinka
Summary: Trafficking in persons is the second largest form of illegal trade in the world, grossing an estimated $150 billion annually, with over 40.3 million people enslaved worldwide. Coupled with increased demands by migrants to get to Europe at all costs, trafficking in persons has become an even more profitable trade with high returns. This research addresses the journeys of young, refugee women entering Europe via the central Mediterranean route. It focuses on the psychosocial impact of human trafficking and this irregular journey on young refugee women, their wellbeing, and both visible and invisible losses.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn
Starting date: January 2018

Settling in Belgium. Unaccompanied refugee minors and how experiences before, during and after the flight impact their psychological well-being

PhD student: Malte Behrendt
Summary: This study focuses on the experiences that unaccompanied refugee minors have before, during and after fleeing from their home country, and how these experiences impact their psychological well-being. Forming part of the ERC Childmove Project, this dissertation zooms in on the minors who reach and stay in Belgium. Taking advantage of a longitudinal and mixed-methods design, the evolution of their well-being is investigated over a period of two years. More particularly, we aim to shed light on how different coping strategies are used to deal with the various sources of stress, differentiating post-traumatic stress and certain daily stressors in the current living environment. Advancing our knowledge about other factors relevant to this specific context, the relationship between coping strategies and social support are explored as well.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn, Ine Lietaert (UNU-CRIS)
Periode of time: April 2017 - April 2021

Professional Identities in Social Work, an Intergenerational Analysis

PhD student: Steven Brandt
Summary: Numerous critiques toward the new generation of social workers claim that the structural dimension of social work is deteriorating. Many have argued that social workers of today minimize the relationship between structural and individual problems. In this view social workers are becoming social technicians: focusing mainly on the technical and psychological part of their profession. However, other authors point out to positive and reviving characteristics of new generations. Therefore this study questions the relation between generations and the social work profession more thoroughly: (1) What are different positions social workers take in defining what a good social work should be? (2) What is the relation between those different positions and generations? (3) Knowing this, what are the implications for practice? (4) What are the implications for policy in social work?
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Rudi Roose, Griet Verschelden (Department of Social Work, University College Ghent)
Starting date: October 2013

Becoming a fellow citizen through elderly care: Educational and integrational pathways of refugees in Denmark

PhD student: Marianne Bruhn Kjeldsen
Summary: In Denmark municipalities have chosen to apply the Integrationsuddannelse (IGU) policy with a focus on recruiting new employees to the field of elderly care. The IGU policy embodies an education and integration strategy in Danish policy and provides an integration training course for refugees. The rationale behind this approach is that many of the refugees, and mainly women, are experienced in taking care of older family members in their home countries. The aim of the doctoral research is to investigate the stereotypical underlying assumptions at stake in these recent policy strategies. Based on interpretative and retrospective biographical research, the efforts made by the various educational actors in this program are examined in how they relate to, and interfere with, the diverse life histories and educational backgrounds of the refugees, and in how this program affects their possibilities in commencing a vocatinal education or achieving employment on the Danish labour market.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Griet Roets
Periode of time: June 2019 - June 2024


Frames of poverty: a study of underlying assumptions of poverty produced by self-advocacy organizations of people in poverty

PhD student: Heidi Degerickx
Summary: Poverty is not a neutral but a political concept, and as such, highly contested. However, since the 1990s support occurs in European welfare states for a poverty approach where the idea of talking ‘with’ the poor gained prominence instead of talking ‘about’ or ‘to’ people in poverty. Beresford and Croft (1995) refer to a paradigm shift from advocacy to self-advocacy. This doctoral research project aims at understanding the self-advocacy paradigm within poverty reduction policies in Belgium from a social work and educational history perspective. First a historical document analysis will be applied to the General Report on Poverty (1994). Second an inductive framing analysis will be done on photographic publications of self-advocacy organisations of people in poverty. This research focusses on the role of non-poor allies (advocates) in relation to the poor themselves (self-advocates), and on their common struggle for power and agency in realizing human rights and social justice.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Angelo Van Gorp, Griet Roets (Department Of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Starting date: March 2014

Researching the role of social work in the non-take-up of social rights: a retrospective analysis of the pathways of people in poverty

PhD student: Lore Dewanckel
Summary: The central objective of this research project is to gain insight into and deepen the current knowledge about the complex and dynamic processes that are at play in the non-take-up of social rights of people in poverty. We adopt a dynamic rather than a static definition of non-take-up, that perceives non-take-up as a complex process. Research shows, for example, that there can be a lack of take-up of social rights due to the non-knowledge, the non-claiming and the non-reception of people according to their rights. Of great importance here is looking at the reasons behind this lack of take-up. Moreover, we define non-take-up as a lack of material as well as immaterial resources, and focus not only on the individual but also look at the relationship between the individual and the structural level.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Griet Roets, Koen Hermans (Centre For Sociological Research, KU Leuven)
Periode of time: April 2019 - April 2023

Participatory arts practices and the commitment to urban living. Between historical determination and (pedagogical) accountability

PhD student: Hanne Dewinter
Summary: Anno 2017, participatory art faces important challenges, not only in relation to the urban context as its intervention area, but also in relation to community and solidarity as its leading concepts. Processes of migration and pluralisation have altered the cityscape: superdiversity confronts us with a new reality. At the same time, the current condition of globalisation and pluralisation do not longer allow concepts of community and solidarity based on a normative consensus. Based on a multiple-case study in Brussels, this PhD will focus on the underlying perspectives on urban living from which participatory art practices emerge and how these practices (critically) relate to social relationships in our changing society? In that respect, participatory art is conceived from a twofold context of origin, uneasily balancing between a mainly local context of social cultural work on the one hand and a broader, more internationally embraced shift in contemporary arts on the other hand.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Lieve Bradt
Starting date: February 2017

Theorising social cohesion in child and family social work

PhD student: Melissa Dierckx
Summary: Social cohesion as a theoretical concept is challenged by various social changes such as globalization and an increasing cultural diversity. In this context, child and family services are presented as services that can promote social cohesion in our society. Despite the renewed interest in social cohesion, the lack of conceptualisation inhibits its operationalization and thus jeopardizes the study of evidence based practices, as it is hardly possible to gain insight into the impact of child and family services on social cohesion. Through a triangulation of results obtained through a variety of research methods, this research contributes to the conceptualisation and operationalisation of social cohesion in social work practices for families with young children in contexts of increasing diversity.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Michel Vandenbroeck, Jochen Devlieghere (Department Of Social Work And Social Pedagogy , Ghent University )
Periode of time: October 2019 - October 2023

Return in context: The impact of community members' expectations on reintegration processeses of returned migrants in Cameroon

PhD student: Presca Esseh Wanki
Summary: In Cameroon, migration is coupled with specific expectations from the community, in particular related to sharing resources. This research takes a step further by exploring how these perspectives of community members impact reintegration processes of returned migrants, in relation to existing support structures. More so, this will be addressed at two levels: (1) local community’s expectations towards returnees, and (2) the formal support structures available upon return for returnees.In summary, the central research objectives of this doctoral research project are to unveil the various ways in which community expectations towards returnees and available formal support structures towards returnees influence their lives after return in Cameroon. Next to increasing our scientific knowledge, clear-cut recommendations for both policy and practice will be formulated to enhance returnees’ 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

Social work, welfare and health: Realising social rights in inter-professional collaboration

PhD student: Nele Feryn
Summary: (Social) health care systems are faced with different challenges: an ageing population, demographic changes, inequalities, complex health care needs, etc. The complexity and multidimensionality of health and social problems requires a better coordination between the health and welfare sector and the professionals within these services. While the assumption that complex social and health issues are better managed cooperatively is widely endorsed in literature and by policy makers in Belgium, there is no clear insight in the realisation of the right to social services. Therefore, this study aims to examine how the transition of primary care in Flanders takes place at the intersection between social work and health and how (and if) inter-professional collaboration contributes to the realisation of social rights. Additionally, the purpose of this study is to map out the factors associated to the potential learning effects of inter-professional collaboration.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Rudi Roose, Joris Decorte (Department Of Social Work and Social Pedagogy , Ghent University)
Periode of time: March 2019 - March 2025

Compare the incomparable. Decision making on priorities in youth care as a practice of moral judgement

PhD student: Koen Gevaert
Summary: The child care system is under pressure because of the scarcity of resources. The amount of people who ask for care is much bigger than what the care system itself can manage. This problem leads to an important decision-making process on prioritisation: which referral for help must get prior treatment relative to others and why? This question raises a moral dilemma. There is no choice that is unambiguously right; there is only the challenge to make a choice that is as just as it can be. In Flanders, this decision-making process is situated within the concept of Integrated Youth Care. In this doctoral research, we focus on this decision-making process by means of three questions: 1/ Which ethical framework is present in the policy and the legislation concerning this prioritisation?, 2/ What are the characteristics of the decision-making process that actually takes place? and 3/ In what way can this decision-making process be understood as a practice of moral judgement?
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Rudi Roose, Sabrina Keinemans (Research Centre For Social Innovation, University Of Applied Sciences Utrecht)
Starting date: January 2017

Measuring and monitoring quality in child care in relation with respect for diversity

PhD student: Jeroen Janssen
Summary: Since the upbringing of children in child care services is supposed to be a shared responsibility between the private and the public sphere, parents should have equal chances to participate in defining pedagogical quality. However, parents, staff and policymakers can have different ideas and expectations regarding the raising of young children and the shared responsibility in itself. This PhD focuses on three perspectives in raising children together: the perspective of policymakers, parents and staff.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Michel Vandenbroeck, Ferre Laevers (CEGO, University of Leuven)
Starting date: November 2013

From specialised medical health care to revovery-oriented community based care and back: a historical analysis of social work practices in addiction treatment in Norway

PhD student: Kenneth Arctander Johansen
This doctoral research project is a genealogy of the ways in which addiction problems have been defined since the 19th century in Norway (which addictions have been problematised, how have they been labelled, how have they been treated and how has this been legitimised in public policies). This genealogy allows to question some taken for granted perceptions in present day discourse on addiction problems.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Michel Vandenbroeck, Stijn Vandevelde (Department of Special education, Ghent University) 
Starting date: 2014

Researching returnees’ political reintegration in the framework of Objective 21 of the Global Compact for Migration

PhD student: Rossella Marino
Summary: The Global Compact for Migration was adopted in December 2018 by the international community. It is the latest development of global migration governance constituting the international community's coordinated attempt to turn migration into an orderly and profitable phenomenon. Among the objectives composing the compact, and requiring subsequent national implementation, Objective 21 deals with the return of migrants to their countries of origin. The article includes a reference to "sustainable reintegration" occurring when returnees have mainly access to occupational prospects. This conceptualisation underestimates returnees' political participation. Starting from this "policy gap" and addressing the research gaps linked to the implementation of the GCM, this study will question the GCM's conceptualisation of sustainable reintegration by carrying out an analysis of the political participation of WestAfrican recipients of GCM-related return migration assistance programmes.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Ine Lietaert
Periode of time: October 2019 - September 2023

Thinking in threes. A triadic approach to social work

PhD student: Luc Notredame
Summary: The objective of the project is the elaboration of a critical theory of social work, based on the assumption of the realization of social rights as a prominent mission of social work. As a principle of social justice, social rights are set off against other principles, such as (basic) needs and merit. Methodologically, we use the triadic approach as a knowledge and action strategy. The background for the elaboration of the theory of social work is the development and functioning of the Belgian welfare state since the Second World War, and the relation between the public and private sector. Empirical references are two key moments: the Organic Act of 8 July 1976 on the Public Social Welfare Centres (1976) and the First Flemish congress on well-being (1990).
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Maria De Bie, Rudi Roose (Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Starting date: July 2014

Supporting professionals in dealing with multilingualism in Early Childhood Education and Care

PhD student: Brecht Peleman
Summary: While a growing number of studies point out the opportunities that come with multilingualism, many language minority parents feel distressed about linguistic issues in the education of the child. For professionals working in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), the growing linguistic diversity is challenging, as they often lack knowledge and experience on how to positively support multilingualism. Indeed, the educational field in general and ECEC in particular still implicitly favours homogeneity and tends to consider diversity (including multilingualism) as a problem to overcome, rather than as a reality and a condition for learning. As preschool institutions are mostly monolingual, they often don’t provide support for minority languages. From a social pedagogical perspective, this doctoral research project set out to explore professional development of ECEC practitioners working in contexts of multilingualism and (linguistic) diversity.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Michel Vandenbroeck, Piet Van Avermaet (Linguistics, Ghent University)
Periode of time: September 2018 - September 2022


The complex dynamics of force and choice: Returnees' experience and community perceptions in return migration processes

PhD student: Alina Penkala
Summary: This study aims to improve the understanding of the role of force and choice in migration processes in the context of return migration to Ukraine. Both, beyond and within academia there is an existing distinction between "forced migrants" and "voluntary migrants" as those labels are used by migration management agencies. However, it is recognized that most migrants experience both elements (force and choice) in their migration decision process but little is known about how the experiences of force and choice influence their situation after the return. Moreover, this research will also examine whether members of the community where migrants return to, have certain perceptions about the forced / voluntary nature of the return of migrants, and if those perceptions influence their attitude towards returnees and the support, they are willing to offer as a consequence.
Phd in Social Work
Promoter(s): Ine Lietaert, Ilse Derluyn (Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Periode of time: 2019 - September 2023

Check point Greece: Unaccompanied Refugee Children on the move and their psychological wellbeing

PhD student: Marina Rota
Summary: This study is part of the ERC CHILDMOVE project and takes place in Greece which is, along with Italy, one of the main entry points in the EU. The research focuses on Unaccompanied Minors who have entered EU via Greece only to find themselves stranded in the country or in a continued effort to leave for other EU countries using different paths. The mixed methods collection of information has as a main goal to increase knowledge of the impact of experiences the children face while on flight on their psychological wellbeing. Their stories are being collected in various points in time and space in order to demonstrate the evolution of their efforts in order to find a place they can call home.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn, Ine Lietaert (Department Social Work and Social Pedagogy, University Of Ghent)
Periode of time: April 2017 - April 2021

From Drop-Out to Meaning Making: Social Work and Education as Conversion Factors?

PhD student: Juno Tourne
Summary: Early school leaving (ESL) is at the forefront of current educational policy, research and practice. In these current policies and practices, a clear human capital approach can be identified, which leads to ‘strong education’. Seeing as this current approach to ESL is neither vastly reducing the amount of early school leavers nor the inequality in our education system, but rather reproducing and contributing to it, this research puts forward The Capability Approach as an alternative approach. This research aims to investigate how much space youngsters still have in the current education landscape in Flanders for ‘meaning-making’ and ‘exit’ and how this is reacted to. In this case, ‘exit’ refers to the chances that youngsters have to (temporarily) escape education, for example through unmotivated behaviour, truancy, (temporary) dropout, and early school leaving, at a reasonable cost. By reasonable we mean, for example, by having an opportunity to re-engage at a later time.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Lieve Bradt , Rudi Roose (Department Of Social Work and Social Pedagogy , Ghent University )
Periode of time: October 2018 - October 2022

Transformative Learning: Exploring educational perspectives in female social movement mobilization in the IGBO community

PhD student: Uchendu Uchechukwu Ethelbert
Summary: Beginning from the precolonial via colonial to the present postcolonial eras, Nigeria is portrayed as blessed with a large number of women’s association imbued with strong social spaces in political participation and viewed as source of empowerment and collective affirmation. The research takes place in Igboland in Nigeria, a site that is particularly interesting to study emancipatory initiatives of women over time. Situating my research in the context of Nigeria’s new political openings since late 1990s, I want to explore and understand, by way of narrative methodology, in focus-group sessions, the emerging ‘social change processes’ associated with developmental activities by Igbo women in the context of their female social movement participation. This research is inspired by Southern feminist theorists, who, recently, are confronting global and historically rooted knowledge inequalities and hence offering new theoretical and conceptual approaches.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Vandenbroeck Michel, Griet Roets
Starting date: October 2013