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Democracy in transit: The circulation, adaptation and appropriation of democratic practices in environmental policy (PALLETTHU19SF)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr H Pallett
    Dr J Chilvers
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Practices of democratic governance and decision-making have been institutionalised in environmental policy, yet are constantly evolving and travelling, and new democratic practices are continually being developed. Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars have explored these practices as ‘technologies of democracy’, whose innovation journeys and travel can be analysed in the same way that STS scholars have studied other technologies (Voβ & Amelung 2016). This is complemented by recent work in Human Geography which tries to better understand ‘policy mobilities’ (Temenos & McCann 2013), including the travel of certain democratic practices. Yet only a handful of studies have considered the effects of these travelling democratic practices on broader environmental governance (Pallett, 2015; Soneryd, 2016).

This PhD project aims to explore the travel and translation of democratic practices between different countries, domains and policy areas. The case or cases studied will be defined by the interests of the student, but could include prominent approaches currently being used in environmental policy like open data or sentiment mapping. The project will entail: (i) reviewing existing concepts and approaches to the movement of democratic practices; (ii) developing a conceptual framework on the basis of this review; (iii) applying the approach to one or more case studies; and (iv) developing approaches to engage policy makers and civil society actors in envisaging and anticipating the futures of these democratic practices. This PhD will contribute to developing new approaches to understanding democratic practices and policy travel, as well as providing constructive insights on contemporary democratic practices in environmental policy. This project would suit excellent candidates with a social science or interdisciplinary environmental science background.

UK students, and others who are eligible for Research Council studentships, will be able to apply for ESRC funding to work on this topic. Please see for more information and contact Helen Pallett if you are eligible.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:

Type of programme: PhD

Project start date: October 2019

Mode of study: Full time

Entry requirements: Acceptable first degree - Geography, Environmental Sciences, Sociology/ Science and Technology Studies, Political Science, Media Studies.
The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


i) Voβ, J.-P. & Amelung, N., 2016. Innovating public participation methods: Technoscientization and reflexive engagement. Social Studies of Science, pp.1–24.

ii) Temenos, C. & McCann, E., 2013. Geographies of Policy Mobilities. Geography Compass, 7(5), pp.344–357.

iii) Pallett, H. (2015) Public Participation Organizations and Open Policy: A Constitutional Moment for British Democracy? Science Communication 37: 769-794

iv) Soneryd, L., 2016. Technologies of participation and the making of technologised futures. In J. Chilvers & M. Kearnes, eds. Remaking Participation: Science, Environment and Emergent Publics. London: Routledge, pp. 144–161.

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