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Examining the lived reality of community engagement and active citizenship for individuals with intellectual disabilities

College of Medicine, Veterinary and Life Sciences

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Dr L Lawson , Dr C Melville No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Start date: 3rd October 2016
Stipend: RCUK rate

The PhD cuts across social and health sciences so will provide excellent opportunities for the student to develop cutting-edge research skills relevant to the study of socio-ecological influences on the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged populations. Therefore, the studentship is particularly suited to applicants from social science backgrounds, such as anthropology, sociology, social policy and psychology.

Dr Lawson is based in the College of Social Sciences and Dr Melville in the College of Medicine, Veterinary and Life Sciences. The student will have access to postgraduate research training and environment in both colleges.

Both supervisors welcome initial email enquiries about the PhD.

There is a strong relationship between social disadvantage and inequities in health and well being. Individuals with intellectual disabilities experience multiple social disadvantages due to disability, place of residence, socio -economic status and social capital.

Social capital is defined as the ability to experience benefits through membership, networks and other social structures (Portes, 1998) and includes individual relationships, community engagement and active citizenship. Research has shown that there is a strong relationship between social capital and wellbeing, and programmes that strengthen social capital have been shown to lead to health improvement. However, there is relatively little research evidence exploring the relevance of social capital to the wellbeing of people with intellectual disabilities.

This PhD studentship will be focussed on exploring the contribution that community engagement and active citizenship make to the social capital of people with intellectual disabilities.

The interchangeable use of definitions and terms is an obstacle to research on the relevance of social concepts to the lives of people with intellectual disabilities (Simplican et al. 2015). Therefore, the initial focus of the studentship will be to develop a theoretical framework relevant to community engagement and active citizenship. This initial phase will inform the empirical aspects of the studentship but it is envisaged that the research could include ethnographic methods, innovative approaches to case study research and participatory action research methods.

It is anticipated that individuals with intellectual disabilities will play an active part in all aspects of the research. The feasibility of using go-along methodologies (Kusenbach, 2003; Carpiano, 2009) and technology to enable individuals with intellectual disabilities to participate in the research, as citizen scientists, will be incorporated into the research programme.

Simplican, S. C., Leader, G., Kosciulek, J., & Leahy, M. (2015). Defining social inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities: An ecological model of social networks and community participation. Research in developmental disabilities, 38, 18-29.
Kusenbach, M. 2003. Street phenomenology: The go-along as ethnographic research tool. Ethnography, 4, 455-485.
Carpiano, R. M. 2009. Come take a walk with me: The “Go-Along” interview as a novel method for studying the implications of place for health and well-being. Health & Place, 15, 263-272.

Person specification
Applications are invited from UK and EU students who meet residency requirements.
Applicants should have obtained, or expect to obtain a 2:1 or first class honours degree in a relevant subject, such as anthropology, sociology, social policy and psychology.
Previous research training from an appropriate Master’s degree is desirable but not essential

How to apply
Applications will only be accepted through the University of Glasgow online system which can be accessed at
A CV, supporting statement and 2 references should be included with your application.

Funding Notes

Applicants will normally be expected to reside (or have residency) within the UK/EU.

Support includes an annual stipend at RCUK rates for 3 years (£14,296 in 2016/17), PhD registration fees at UK/EU student rate, research expenses, general training funds, travel and meeting costs.

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