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Cities on the Edge: How to create welcoming, egalitarian, adaptable, flourishing cities of tomorrow

Project Description

Nearly four billion people live in cities globally. One fifth are international migrants (World Migration Report, 2018). Intensified globalization and mass-migration have made the questions of how we live with difference increasingly urgent in the 21st century (Hall 1993; Touraine 2000; Valentine 2008), especially in super-diverse urban areas (Vertovec 2007). Cities are also responsible for seventy percent of global GDP (New Urban Agenda 2017). The success of cities to welcome migrants has repercussions for us all. However, national anti-migrant attitudes are on the ascent alongside heightened immigration controls and increased restrictionism on state services for migrants. The Global Challenges scholar will be part of a wider research stream in the School of Social Policy and build on links with City-REDI (Regional Economic Development Institute) to develop a theory of emerging alternative political cultures, opening interdisciplinary dialogue on why urban innovations matter for migration governance and settlement.

The PhD scholarship will bring together two of the biggest challenges facing societies in the 21st century, mass migration and increasing urbanisation (as addressed in two UN Global Forums: The Global Compact on Refugees 2017 and the New Urban Agenda 2017). The world is changing and cities are in the forefront of global transformations but how they are adapting remains insufficiently investigated. Mass migration is creating new urban dynamics requiring new methodologies and theoretical approaches to re-think the city as a flexible and evolving space that better responds to contemporary urban challenges. Presently, these challenges appear to be led by developers, political elites incentivized for short-term thinking, corporate visionaries and accidents in the “old globalism”, with social scientists seemingly retreating into critique and conservation of political programmes of 20th century. The Global Challenges scholar will be expected to develop innovative methodological approaches to challenge these perspectives. The scholar will critically examine at least two city-level initiatives in two different countries that have been established to develop a culture of ‘welcome’ despite national level hostility.

This project asks what role cities play in the current governance of migration policies. Are cities merely implementing national targets and strategies or are they actively shaping their own agendas linked to local issues and specificities? Are cities emerging as self-determined actors, or are they just another step in passing the burden of policy implementation down to localities and NGOs and volunteer organisations?

The Global Challenges scholar may draw on a range of different disciplinary perspectives to examine how cities are adapting to increased levels of migration. The scholar will be expected to critically engage with the concept of the ‘urban’ and examine the role of cities in relation to national level policies and, where appropriate, cross national city networks. The scholar will be encouraged to employ an innovative participatory methodology. The Global Challenges scholar will engage with some of the following issues:
• Radical positive programmes for urban futures;
• Rethinking and reintroduction of the concept of ‘progress’ into urban politics;
• Social change as a localist and particularist phenomenon;
• ‘Universalisms’ in the design of new social systems;
• Participatory democracy at the urban level – new models and designs;
• The influence of various forms of migrations and migrant sub-groups on the local and urban economy;
• Typologies, methodologies and theories for occupying the future city.

The candidate will have a good first degree and a Masters degree in a related field with a disciplinary focus from the social sciences. They will also be able to demonstrate excellent research skills either gained through working in the field or through an MA/MSC programme. They will have some experience working with or researching with migrants and/or a range of stakeholders (including NGOs, national and local government) or be able to demonstrate high degrees of knowledge about approaches such work might entail. They will possess excellent interpersonal skills and awareness of how to work with potentially vulnerable respondents including understanding ethical considerations associated with such work. They will have a demonstrable interest in working with migrants and city level stakeholders. They must be able to speak the language of the country in which they propose to conduct research.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the Global Challenges Scholarship.
The award comprises:

Full payment of tuition fees at UK Research Councils UK/EU fee level (£4,327 in 2019/20), to be paid by the University;
An annual tax-free doctoral stipend at UK Research Councils UK/EU rates (£15,009 for 2019/20), to be paid in monthly instalments to the Global Challenges scholar by the University;
The tenure of the award can be for up to 3.5 years (42 months).

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