Doctoral dissertations

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

Social work and poverty. Between recognition and redistribution

PhD student: Katrien Boone
Summary: It is pointed out in international debates that the strive for social justice in relation to poverty develops on the tension between a ‘politics of recognition’ and a ‘politics of redistribution’. These fields relate to each other in a complex tension: a one-sided emphasis on recognition carries the danger of neglecting questions concerning structural redistribution, and a one-sided emphasis on issues of redistribution ignores the need for recognition of and respect for people in poverty. This tension can’t be lifted in or resolved by social work, but demands practice that combines these perspectives. In this research we focus on the question what a pedagogy of poverty-reduction on this tension can involve. More specific, we conduct research in ‘Organisations where the Poor Raise their Voice’, where an analysis on the contributed perspectives, on the developed practices and on the actions of workers in the organisations is made.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Rudi Roose, Griet Roets (Department Of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Starting date: January 2013

The malleable child. A social-pedagogical study of early interventions in families with deaf children

PhD student: Sigrid Bosteels
Summary: In this study we disentangle the contemporary Flemish case of neonatal screening and interventions in the life of deaf children and their family. The deaf, disabled or hearing impaired child has now become an object of public and medical-technological interventions. We will investigate taken-for-granted knowledge claims of predictability, control and malleability of differing conditions in young children. Methodologically, it draws from archival analysis to understand the socio-historical meaning of concepts related to the condition of deaf children. These insights are interpreted in the light of a phenomenological understanding of parent’s and children’s shared voices. This socio-pedagogical study underlines the importance of continuing to investigate and unravel the boundaries and connections between parent’s and children’s need for support and dominant societal conceptions of normalcy and health in childhood.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Michel Vandenbroeck, Geert Van Hove (Department of Special Needs Education, Ghent University)
Starting date: May 2010

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

Teachers` perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health Education in high schools in Ecuador with a particular focus on students with emigrated parents

PhD student: Jessica Castillo Nuñez
Summary: In Ecuador, the high rates of teenage pregnancy and partner violence have positioned sexual and reproductive health education as a priority field of concern. In addition, Ecuador shows the highest rates of migration in the Andean Region. So, children and adolescents whose parents have migrated abroad are a growing vulnerable group of risk sexual behaviour. In this context, educational policy pursues to implement sexual education as a transversal axe within the formal curriculum. In this manner, teachers have to assume new responsibilities. The current study aims to identify teachers` perspectives regarding their role as sexual educators on one side. On the other hand, it is expected to explore the perceptions of adolescents` sexual education needs, particularly the needs from those whose parents have migrated. To this goal, a cross sectional explanatory study will be conducted through a mixed design using a quanti-quali sequential strategy.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn, Martin Valcke (Department of Educational Studies, Gent University)
Starting date: September 2013

Socio-cultural work as democratic arena. The use of participative practices in urban contexts

PhD student: Evelyne Deceur
Summary: Socio-cultural work practices are currently at a turning point: on the one hand they are put forward as an answer to the gap between citizens and politics, they have to 'organise participation'; on the other hand, their own democratic and participatory efforts are questioned: who participates where, when, to what degree and to what end? From the biography of a place, the Ghent neighborhood Rabot-Blaisantvest, we study what professionals in socio-cultural work practices do and why. How do they construct, through their practices, the relationship between people and their environment? How do they create space for heterogeneity and pluralism, and what are the opportunities and limitations experienced?
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Michel Vandenbroeck, Michiel Dehaene (Department of Architecture and urban planning, Ghent University)
Starting date: February 2011

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

Parenting in a context of prolonged armed conflict

PhD student: Leen De Nutte
Summary: War has an impact on the lives of millions of people. Even in post-confict context families can experience difficult living situations. As the upbringing of children is nested within a specific context, this research starts from the presumption that parenting can also be influenced by a context of prolonged armed conflict. However, ideas and practices of parenting have mostly been studied among war veterans and research is lacking in a context of violence spread over different generations. Therefore, this research wants to study parenting in Northern Uganda, a region which has been affected by armed conflict between the Lord's Resistance Army and the Ugandan government.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn, Lucia De Haene (Research Group Education, Culture and Society, KU Leuven)
Starting date: January 2014

View of and on Freinet: 'then' and 'there' in comparison to 'here' and 'now'

PhD student: Jan Devos
Summary: Freineteducation is growing and alive in Flanders. Through the concept of 'modern school' freinet practitioners nowadays are challenged, as heirs of the ideas of Célestin Freinet, to continu shaping their own practice. This research will reveal the view of Flemish teachers in freinetschools by using a qualitative research methodology. The sampling frame is designed to achieve maximum variety of schools and teachers. The study design consists of semi-structured interviews that focus on critical events and general questions about freineteducation. There is also attention to the original vision of Célestin Freinet, the reception and implementation history of freineteducation in Flanders and the contextualisation.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Michel Vandenbroeck, Angelo Van Gorp (Department Of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Starting date: September 2011

Refugee relief during the First World War: Belgian refugees in Birmingham (1914-1919)

PhD student: Jolien De Vuyst
Summary: The First World War started a worldwide unprecedented stream of refugees. The refugee experience, as well as the impact of the refugee relief on their wellbeing during and its effect after the war, remains generally absent in research. This research accepts that challenge and wants to map the refugees experiences, its interaction with refugee relief in particular, with a layered methodology and a triangulation of source material. The city of Birmingham lends itself to researching the refugee relief at a local level where human interventions are perceptible at their greatest power. Moreover, the Birmingham Archives and Heritage Service has an extensive archive containing many data about the refugees. To this day, the impact of the ‘Great War’ is still noticeable: the refugee relief was a catalyst for the transition of charity to social work, as well as a turning point in which the initial outlines of the refugee policy and human rights were drawn, making this research a current topic.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Angelo Van Gorp, Kevin Myers (School Of Education, University Of Birmingham)
Starting date: April 2015

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


Processes of in- and exclusion in provision for parents of young children

PhD student: Freya Geinger
Summary: Within a changing socio-political and socio-economic context, a movement towards integrated ECEC services can be noticed within international policy and practice, as a way to support all parents with children best. Yet it is precisely knowledge about the lifeworld of parents and their possible (new) emerging concerns, which is absent. This questions the usefulness of the interventions taken within policy and practice from the point of view of parents. This research aims to extend this debate by exploring he influence of economic downturn and unemployment in particular, on parents with young children (0-3) in relation to parenting. It also takes into account how social policy and social services go about the (new) emerging concerns of parents, within the wider organisation of the welfare state. The research takes place in three SALK-municipalities in Limburg, a Flemisch province.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Michel Vandenbroeck, Griet Roets (Department Of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Starting date: October 2013

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

Urban education as a lever towards community building: A historical perspective

PhD student: Cedric Goossens
Summary: In comparison with rural areas, cities were and still are often confronted with an accumulation of specific problems and challenges (e.g., with regards to poverty, diversity and housing). Because of the fact that the essence of a city council lays literally in leading urban society in the right direction through the implementation of a specific policy, it can be expected that this urban policy tries to tackle perceived problems by defining them and by presenting specific interventions in a variety of policy domains. This doctoral study examines this relationship with regards to education. More specifically, the study raises the question how urban education is conceptualized and shaped in relation to, and acts as a lever for, community building. In order to answer this research question, I analyze the Ghent policy from the 1970s. Methodologically, I draw on archival research and oral history.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Angelo Van Gorp
Starting date: October 2013

Outreach work as a practice of accessibility

PhD student: Hans Grymonprez
Summary: In this PhD. project, the paradoxical logic behind outreach practices will be questioned. Outreaching is deployed to give answers to problems of inaccessibility of social services. However, this seems to be realised in a policy context in which preventing people from accessing services is also an important idea. From a maximalist understanding of the right to social welfare, this residual logic is for several reasons problematic. The debate is restricted to managing access and promotes further division in subcategories. Concerning the evolution to outreach work towards homeless in the city of Antwerp, the question is how outreach work is related to prevailing logics in social work. Possibly, outreach workers question these logics but they might as wel confirm them.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Rudi Roose
Starting date: February 2013

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

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

Identity constructions at the intersection of mental illness, religion, ethnicity and gender in Belgium

PhD student: Elise Rondelez
Summary: The project considers identity constructions of Belgian Muslims considered ‘mentally ill’. They are characterised by their positioning in an intersection that can be considered as the opposite of ‘the rational subject’ of Western modernity. The affirmation of the modern self is grounded in the exclusion of ‘constitutive others’, and this structuring effect is tangible, notably in the realm of medical diagnosis. The investigation consists of a theoretical inquiry which contribute to the unpacking of this subject. This theoretical investigation is grounded in qualitative research with interlocutors whose narratives have not yet informed knowledge production in a Belgian context: Muslims with mental health problems are interviewed with respect to the kind of medical and psychiatric discourses they are confronted with; the discourses that are used in the Muslim community to make sense of mental health problems; and the ways in which they rely on different part(s) of their identity.
PhD in Sociology
Promoter(s): Sarah Bracke, Griet Roets (Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Starting date: September 2013

Community sport and social cohesion: A social work perspective

PhD student: Shana Sabbe
Summary: The enhancement of social cohesion has always been a key challenge in social work. More recently, social work practices are moving beyond classic approaches and are reaching towards (innovative) practices, that are traditionally not defined as social work practices. Community sport in particular is perceived as fitted to enhance social cohesion, given its socially inclusive approach on sport participation of socially vulnerable youth. Although in the state of the art literature, the contribution of community sport towards social cohesion is perceived as evident, there is some indistinctiveness regarding the following questions: Which notions of social cohesion are inherent to community sport practices? (1); How do community sport interventions contribute to social cohesion? (2); Why is community sport perceived as the ideal practice to enhance social cohesion? (3). This research, which is part of The Strategic Basic Research project ‘CATCH’, will focus on the above standing questions.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Rudi Roose, Lieve Bradt (Department Of Social Work and Social Pedagogy , Ghent University)
Starting date: January 2016

Psychological wellbeing and resources for young refugees during armed conflict: spirals of loss and gain

PhD student: Julie Schiltz
Summary: This research project uses the Capability Approach as a framework to examine the wellbeing of young South Sudanese refugees in Northern Uganda. It focuses on the question of how young people can have more freedom to achieve what they value in their lives (i.e. capabilities). More specifically, we look at the role of resources, and personal, social and environmental factors that create opportunities and barriers to make use of these resources in the pursuit of wellbeing. The project also focuses on how ideas about wellbeing are shaped by the refugee condition and the space of the refugee setting. It seeks to understand how young people adapt their ideas of what they value in their lives to the context in which they live. The project adopts a longitudinal research design including both qualitative and quantitative methods, and draws on community-based and participative research.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Eric Broekaert (Department of Special education, Ghent University), Ilse Derluyn 
Starting date: October 2014

Evidence-based social work: towards professionalization or deprofessionalization?

PhD student: Werner Schirmer
Summary: The debate on evidence-based practice in social work seems to be a theoretical controversy about the quality of service, the role of knowledge and the identity of social work as a profession. As of yet, very little is known on what actually happens to the social work profession when a social service organization introduces evidence-based methods into their work practice. The project wants to study empirically on the micro-level of daily social work practice how the EBP affects understandings of professionalism. This shall be analyzed in dimensions that became salient in the theoretical debate such as professional discretion/bureaucracy, measurability/"human factors", client-centered/intervention-centered practice, and scientific rationality/normative-ethical rationality. Data material consists of qualitative interviews and focus groups. Target respondents will be practitioners, managers and clients.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Rudi Roose
Starting date: October 2014

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

Perceptions of parents on their children's leisure time activity

PhD student: Annelore Van Der Eecken
Summary: Few studies have paid attention to the perspectives of parents on their children's leisure time participation. More research on this topic, however, is imperative as previous research has shown that parents have an important influence on their children's lifeworlds and affect their children's leisure. Three studies are planned: a quantitative study of the parents' perceptions on their adolescents' leisure time participation and associations with the home environment, using the JOP-schoolmonitor 2013 and the Participation Survey 2014; a quantitative study of associations between parents' perceptions of their children's leisure time and the actual leisure time activities of their adolescent children, using the JOP-schoolmonitor 2013; and a qualitative study of the parents' perceptions and how these are influenced by the home environment, using semi-structured in-depth interviews with parents of adolescents.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn, Lieve Bradt (Department Of Social Work and Social Pedagogy , Ghent University )
Starting date: August 2014

The integration of provision for families in relation to combating (child) poverty

PhD student: Dorien Van Haute
Summary: Poverty is a problem that is situated on different life domains. The current fragmented and categorical services are not responsive to complex needs, and the formation of integrated answers is put forward as a solution. In this research we explore in three municipalities how local actors shape these networks in order to realise the integration of provision for families in the combat against (child) poverty. This is situated on a local policy level and a social work level, where we investigate concrete interventions from within the network. In a second research question we want to see if this contributes to the quality of social provision as experienced by families in poverty. More specifically we also study the exchange of information within a network that is situated in a field of tension between sharing and protecting personal information of clients. This research is part of the INCh-project (Integrated Networks on Child poverty) in collaboration with UA and ULg and funded by Belspo.
PhD in Social Work
Promoter(s): Michel Vandenbroeck, Griet Roets
Starting date: July 2014

Assimilation processes of migrants in an inter- and multigenerational perspective

PhD student: Floor Verhaeghe
Summary: This research focuses on assimilation processes of several generations of migrants (1st, 2nd, 3rd generation) in different periods (sixties, eighties, present). Assimilation is not considered as an ideal one should reach, but rather as a possible way of examining processes migrants go through in the receiving country. Assimilation is conceptualised as a multidimensional concept, with a structural (education, job market), cultural (language, leisure time), social (network, membership of organizations) and identificational dimension (self-identification in terms of ethnic/regional/national belonging). Both objective and subjective components (own perception of migrants) are considered. Three studies are foreseen: a survey with youngsters in the last years of secondary schools in Genk and Sint-Niklaas, family interviews with multigenerational families with a migration background, and a discourse analysis of newspaper articles out of different time periods.
PhD in Educational Sciences
Promoter(s): Ilse Derluyn, Lieve Bradt (Department Of Social Work And Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)
Starting date: December 2012