Doctoral dissertations

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

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


Shaping a de-institutionalized professional. Exploring a socio-spatial professional orientation

PhD student: Dries Cautreels
Summary: De-institutionalization (DI) is framed and recognized internationally as a lever for the realisation of inclusion for citizens with disabilities. In research, policy and practice, DI has historically been framed as the dismantling of residential care to pursue the creation of community-based living, housing, and working environments. Nevertheless, the circulation of a controlling and oppressive culture and institutional logics in a variety of settings remains and a lack of inclusive social relationships still prevails in many situations. DI thus refers not only to the location and nature of the architectural and spatial embedding, but also to autonomy, an institutional culture and… professionalism. In my research, I will therefore focus on processes of ‘professionalisation’ to reconsider ‘institutional professional cultures and logics’ as a central theme and conceptualise a de-institutionalised (individual and collective) professional orientation as a vital prerequisite to realise DI.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Griet Roets , Rudi Roose
Periode of time: March 2022 - March 2026

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

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

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

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

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

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

The denizen rebel. Pathways of the hidden homeless in the shadow of the welfare state

PhD student: Sophie Samyn
Summary: The research wants to capture trajectories of homelessness among migrants in Ghent through ethnographic methods, i.e. observations and informal interviews. We will examine how they experience their homelessness and how they relate to different services and voluntary organisations in the city. Some of these homeless individuals face particular challenges because the access to basic social rights is dependent on their residency status. However, the right to housing is a human right that should be realized for all people. The goal of the doctoral project is: (1) To capture trajectories of migrants homelessness in Ghent (2) Gain insight into the efforts and responses of (local) social policy and social work in dealing with homelessness in people's lives (3) Co-creating knowledge with the homeless as allies in social work's pursuit of social justice.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Griet Roets, Koen Hermans
Period of time: 2020 - 2024

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

The meaning of leisure time in the lifeworld of children and young people in socially vulnerable situations

PhD student: Saan Van Elsen
Summary: This research project aims to map the lifeworld of socially vulnerable young people and focuses specifically on the meaning of leisure time in their lifeworld. In a first quantitative study, we will verify if there are socio economic and cultural differences on young people’s aspirations towards leisure and how these differences relate to their actual leisure time participation. We therefore use the data gathered from the JOP-schoolmonitor 2 in 2018. A second qualitative study will examine how socially vulnerable young people shape and give meaning to their leisure time and how this process is influenced by their lifeworld. In the last qualitative study we’ll focus on the role of the environment and the local leisure actors for the young people’s leisure time participation.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Lieve Bradt
Periode of time: October 2019 - October 2023

Creating the social in the medical. The development of poverty aware rehabilitation practices

PhD student: Bart Volders
Summary: New discourses, derived from the medical profession, influence social work. Interventions targeted at who are “at risk” and the idea of very early prevention are a significant part of policy and of many social work practices. The shift towards a prevention policy places a strong focus on the individual and is related to the concept of an active citizen who takes responsibility for his own well-being and that of others. These new (medical) insights legitimize interventions in the lives of the most marginalized families, and thus endorse individualization and decontextualization of social problems in which poverty is ignored as a structural problem. In this study, we remain true to the aspirations of social justice of social work and research how poverty-blind approaches can be challenged and poverty-aware perspectives and practices can be developed in rehabilitation practices.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Rudi Roose, Griet Roets (Department Of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Periode of time: January 2018 - ...


The meaning of sport for the social reintegration of (ex-)prisoners

PhD student: Marie-Lou Libbrecht
Summary: The reintegration of prisoners is an ongoing social problem. From the academic discipline of Social Work, knowledge gaps emerge; such as the lack of knowledge from an insider's perspective; lack of knowledge about a variety of life domains deemed meaningful by the person in question, such as sports; lack of research beyond the functionalist approach to reintegration, reducing integration to prevention of recidivism, etc. Within this research, the expressive dimension of reintegration is foregrounded. Through case studies of sports programmes in different prisons across Flanders and Brussels, a programme theory on the meaning and working mechanisms of sports for (ex-)prisoners is developed on the basis of participatory observations, interviews with (ex-)prisoners and actors involved in the implementation of the sports programmes, as well as longitudinal follow-up interviews with ex-prisoners.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Rudi Roose, Pascal Delheye (Faculty Of Political And Social Sciences, Ghent University)
Periode of time: November 2021 - October 2025

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