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The Social construction of police corruption: a cross cultural analysis between the Afghan and European police forces

Project Description

This project will initially cover a political economy approach to map the structural causes of corruption within police forces, and provide specific reference to Afghanistan and a European context. This is to apply the principle of ‘limited access orders’ where favourable groups are preferred in certain appointments, social provision and other benefits. Clientelism can be linked to this concept which is dominant in neopatrimonial political systems so elites can survive. These aspects will likely be more prominent in the context of Afghanistan but comparisons with a European context are paramount to compare state conditions that impact on the rule of law and security, namely the police sector, within both Afghanistan and European police forces. The project will investigate the extent and implications of the state structures in both suggested contexts which integrates politics, international relations with criminological approaches to corruption.

The main part of the project will reflect on state conditions that intensify corruption. This may be less evident in the context of European police forces. Drawing on this, an investigation on the typologies of police corruption will be applied to both European police forces and Afghanistan prior to an investigation of what corruption means and entails according to low ranked street police officers. There are a variety of reviewed cases on police corruption, and some have compared how different countries deal with police corruption once discovered. The work of Pyman et al. (2012) have engaged in cross-comparative literature based research to provide a basic typology of police corruption and the forms it undertakes in various countries. Anti-corruption strategies vary from commissions of inquiry to bring public scandals under investigation, the creation or reform of internal investigative departments, the establishment of independent anti-corruption commissions and the role of active civil society groups to promote anonymous whistle-blowing. Other strategies include pay reform because low pay can intensify bribery and extortion for economic survival (Rose-Ackerman, 1999: 71-73). If there is low-risk and high-reward for low-paid individuals engaging in corruption (Quah, 2011: 14), then low level officers have a higher probability of engaging in forms of corruption. Therefore, better accountability and pay reform are some additional strategies to curb police corruption.

It should be noted that this call for PhD application provides international scope to investigate police corruption in both Afghanistan and a European context. The comparative scope aims to tease out the main causes, practices and consequences of corruption which can only be articulated when police corruption, and what it is defined as, in accordance to police officer’s perceptions.

This project is more open to qualitative methods. In criminology, the methodological standard in the study of policing is qualitative interviewing, which may include the ethnographic dimension of non-participant observation. The project will commence with some interviews with elites, namely high ranked police positions within the Afghan police and a chosen European police sector, and then the majority will be conducted with low level police officers. The rationale for adopting this approach is to cover the social construction of corruption and examine the causes and consequences of corruption according to police officer’s perceptions. Due to insecurity in the Afghan context, shorter surveys or structured interviews are likely to be prescribed with low ranked police officer when permission is granted by their superiors/commanders within their jurisdiction. One permission is obtained, a street intercept strategy will commence to filter out higher ranked officers from the questionnaires. The questions will be based on demographics, stationing, pay and rank reform, perceptions of what corruption can be defined as (open-ended), the causes and practices of police corruption, the recruitment process, accountability and anti-corruption strategy. This strategy and the sets of questions will be similar for both Afghan and a European context. The lead researcher has established good contacts in Afghanistan and with local researchers who have good contacts with the Afghan police and Interior Ministry. Previous findings have been published in several papers that can be seen in the staff link under First Supervisor details.

Application Web Page

Applicants must apply using the online form on the University Alliance website at Full details of the programme, eligibility details and a list of available research projects can be seen at

The final deadline for application is 12 April 2019.

Funding Notes

DTA3/COFUND participants will be employed for 36 months with a minimum salary of (approximately) £20,989 per annum. Tuition fees will waived for DTA3/COFUND participants who will also be able to access an annual DTA elective bursary to enable attendance at DTA training events and interact with colleagues across the Doctoral Training Alliance(s).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 801604.


Pyman, M., Cohen, J., Boardman, M., Webster, B. and Seymour, N. (2012) Arresting Corruption in the Police: The Global Experience of Police Corruption Reform Efforts. London: Transparency International UK.
Quah, J.S.T. (2011) Curbing Corruption in Asian Countries: An Impossible Dream? Research in Public Policy Analysis and Management – Volume 20. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Rose-Ackerman, S. (1999) Corruption and Government: Causes, Consequences, and Reform. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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