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  E-Government for All?: The role of technology relating to the processes and mediation of diverse citizen-state interaction

   Department of Science and Technology Studies

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  Prof Jon Agar  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

University College London and The National Archives are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded Collaborative doctoral studentship from October 2022, under the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Collaborative Doctoral Partnership Scheme.

This studentship seeks to investigate a central question: how did infrastructural and technological changes at the turn of the 20th century enact new forms of Government and how were these new forms experienced by citizens?

It will be jointly supervised by Professor Jon Agar, University College London and Dr Jenny Bunn, The National Archives and secondary supervisors, Dr Elizabeth Lomas, University College London, and Balint Csollei, The National Archives. The student will be expected to spend time at both University College London and The National Archives. In the first year, they will undertake research seminars at University College London, on Tuesdays in term 1 and 2. These will assist in developing research skills and connecting with other students. They will also become part of the wider cohort of CDP funded students across the UK, with access to CDP Cohort Development events.

The studentship can be studied either full or part-time.

It is important to us that our organisations are more diverse, so we encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and identities. We especially keen to hear from candidates from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds as they are currently underrepresented at this level in this area. 

Students should have a Master Degree in a relevant subject or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting.

Project Overview 

The 1990s saw a growing focus on both Open Government (leading to the passing of the Freedom of Information Act in 2000) and e-Government including electronic records management initiatives (with the creation under the Blair administration of the Office of the e-Envoy and the publication of the Modernising Government Agenda), all with a view towards connecting citizens to Government and rebalancing power. However, infrastructural changes and citizen interaction with and perception of Government are often studied as separate phenomenon. Gaining an understanding of this period and of the complex inter-relationships at play in the materialization through technology and access to information of the bureaucratic action of Government is vitally important as we enter another period of dramatic change. The increasing use of artificial intelligence opens up the possibility of a next generation of e-Government which potentially conflicts with the trend towards Open Government. The question of trust between state and citizen is becoming both fraught and urgent. The methodology will reflect a balance of document-focussed research and oral history.

Research questions include:

·      To what extent, and how, were the Open Government and e-Government agendas seen as interconnected?

·      How were Government information systems and infrastructure, including non-technical solutions, altered during this period and which factors were most important in driving their adoption and success or failure?

·      What were the consequences of these changes for perceptions and experiences of citizen-state interaction?

·      To what extent did infrastructural changes bring new benefits or exacerbate pre-existing inequalities or bring about new ones?

CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 45 months or part-time equivalent. Possibility of being extended by 3 months to provide professional development opportunities, or up to 3 months of funding may be used to pay for the costs the student might incur in taking up professional development opportunities.

Tuition fees up to the value of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) full-time home rate for PhD degrees. The UKRI Indicative Fee Level for 2022/23 is £4,596. If necessary, the gap between home and international fees can be covered by UCL.

Full maintenance for, both home and international students. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2022/23 is £16,062, plus London Weighting of £2,000 per year. There is also a CDP maintenance payment of £550/year. 

Additional travel and related expenses grant during the course of the project courtesy of The National Archives worth up to £1000 per year for 3.75 years (45 months).


·      This studentship is open to both Home and International applicants.

·      To be classed as a Home student, candidates must meet the following criteria:

o  Be a UK National (meeting residency requirements), or

o  Have settled status, or

o  Have pre-settled status (meeting residency requirements), or

o  Have indefinite leave to remain or enter

Further guidance can be found on the UKRI website

·      We want to encourage the widest range of potential students to study for a CDP studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds as they are currently underrepresented at this level in this area. 

·      Applicants should ideally have or expect to receive a relevant Masters-level qualification, or be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a setting involving knowledge of and critical reflection on relevant topics, such as information systems and infrastructure or citizen-state interaction. Suitable disciplines are flexible, but might include Information and Knowledge Management, Political History, History of Science and Technology, Social Sciences.

·      Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the archives sector and potential and enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in related areas.

·      As a collaborative award, students will be expected to spend time at both the University and The National Archives.

·      All applicants must meet the UKRI terms and conditions for funding.

Project details and how to apply

For more information, please contact Professor Jon Agar, University College London, [Email Address Removed] and Dr Jenny Bunn, The National Archives, [Email Address Removed].

To apply, please submit a CV and a 2 page statement indicating your interest in the studentship, explaining how your academic background and experience fits the criteria. Please send this [Email Address Removed] by 17:00 on 13 May 2022.

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in May and the successful candidate will then be asked to officially apply for the PhD via the UCL online portal.

Anthropology (2) Computer Science (8) Politics & Government (30)

 About the Project