Sociology of Policy in Practice (MSc)
Sociology of Policy in Practice research internships
Within the Sociology of Policy in Practice specialisation you will develop a research project on prevailing policy problems.
- City Deal Kennis Maken: Leren met de Stad Leiden (Dutch)
(Erik de Maaker)
- Diversity and Inclusion Expertise Office - Leiden University
- Veilig in het Veld (Safety in the Field)
- Gemeente Amsterdam: Gebiedsmakelaars (Dutch)
(Anouk de Koning)
Gemeente Leiden: Slaaghwijk (Dutch)
(Erik de Maaker)
Kenniswinkel Leren met de Stad: Vitaliteit en Gezondheid in Leiden Noord (Dutch)
(Erik de Maaker)
- Gemeente Leiden: Climate Proofing the Neighbourhood
Evaluating Citizen’s Participation in the City of Leiden
(Erik de Maaker)
- Gemeente Leiden: Climate Proofing Industrial Estates Entrepreneurs’s Participation in the City of Leiden
(Erik de Maaker)
- Hoogheemraadschap Rijnland
(Sabine Luning en Marja Spierenburg)
- Inclusiveness and Diversity at LIACS, Leiden University
- Leiden University: Internationalisation of the bachelor's programme in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology
- Mining, post-mining and Multicultural Limburg
- National Museum of World Cultures (NMVW)
- Stichting Landelijk Ongedocumenteerden Steunpunt (Dutch)
- Sustainability research Amsterdam West
The Future of Ports, and Beyond: Research on Values, Heritage and Port City Futures in the Netherlands
- Port City Futures
- WorldHeritage Network
Sociology of PiP alumni experiences
PiP alumnus Tommie Lambregts
"The field is on your doorstep: the challenges of policy research in Leiden"
Conducting fieldwork against a backdrop of public policy interests and professional reputations in your own place of residence adds a whole new level to the experience. As a researcher in this context, you are essentially caught in a game of piggy in the middle between the subjects of policy, the objects of policy, and other invested actors.
In the early months of 2019, I conducted fieldwork in the Slaaghwijk neighbourhood in Leiden as part of a research internship commissioned by the municipality. The municipality was particularly concerned about the neighbourhood’s most vulnerable group (statistically speaking): adolescent males from migrant backgrounds. This group, exhibiting high rates of school dropout, unemployment and illegal activity relative to their peers in the rest of the city, proved to be the group that the municipality found most difficult to reach out to.
I came into contact with the youth workers at Jongerenwerk Leiden, an organisation that attempts to support and coach vulnerable youths by organising various activities. One of their mainstay activities was indoor football where I was allowed to join in. But the younger adolescents generally had difficulty understanding my role – who did I work for? What did I want from them? What could I do for them?
Building trust had been a point of emphasis for me. Due to the difficult relationship between the police and my research population, I felt it was important not to be associated with the municipality or the police if I was to build any kind of relationship. By not associating myself I successfully created a situation where police officers, social workers and young adolescents all felt comfortable having conversations with me and discussing issues with each other in my presence. While that was a great outcome, it also came with a strong sense of responsibility on my part to protect my respondents, and not share information that would make them regret working with me.
As a student intern whose graduation depended to some degree on the success of their internship, the potential was there for me to be very wary of being overly critical of the municipality. There was also the added risk of ruining future cooperation between the municipality and the institute. As an added bonus, this was all taking place in the city I lived and studied in, meaning there was no way of escaping this web of responsibility. Thankfully, my supervisor made a point of emphasising and ensuring my independence as a researcher, by creating the circumstances for me to operate autonomously. To their credit, the municipality and the police in Leiden-Noord were open to criticism. In the end, everyone had a vested interest in understanding more about everyday life in the Slaaghwijk.
PiP alumna Elise van Dansik
"Caught in the middle? Beer and policy in a Leiden neighbourhood"
For my Policy in Practice research project, I engaged with a problem that Leiden ‘Social Domain’ policy officers saw themselves confronted with, which was why migrant organizations of Slaaghwijk (a socio-economically disadvantaged neighborhood in Leiden’s north) do not cooperate with one another. Rather, each of them more or less exclusively relates to a distinct cultural or ethnic group.
As an independent researcher, I did not only intend to research the questions formulated by the municipal officers, but also the premises these were based on. My research question became: “In what ways are relationships between the municipality, migrant organizations and local residents shaped?” This question created my field of enquiry, as a student, a policy researcher, a participant in cooking classes (and other activities of the migrant organisations) and later even as an intern of Leiden municipality. How did I combine these roles? How did my interlocutors see me, what expectations did I create and manage to meet in this way?
From the start, I made it clear to both the municipality and the migrant organisations that my research only focused on mapping 'polyphony', and that I did not intend to advocate the interests of any one of the stakeholders. This proved to be much more tricky than expected. I soon became familiar with many people in the Slaaghwijk, was invited to parties, and made friends. Towards the end of my research, I was hired as a trainee by Leiden municipality, and some of the policymakers who gave direction to my research project became colleagues and friends as well. For me, this created a difficult situation: previously I could have stated that, being a student, I was not ‘of’ the municipality, but I now suddenly felt that I might have some influence on the policies it enacted. Yet I was adamant: I told my respondents that my research aimed at creating new insights and that I could not favour specific organizations.
Months later, at the municipality, a colleague and I were identifying organizations that might fit the newly formulated policy objectives for the Slaaghwijk. I wondered out loud if we should not include one of the groups not usually shortlisted, since I was convinced that it had the right competencies for the purpose. Had my familiarity with the people who were in the group contributed to them being shortlisted?
The informal relationships that had emerged during my research had had an impact on me, professionally, and I had—perhaps subconsciously—made a note of the organization which I had drawn attention to in the conversation with my colleague from the municipality. Perhaps it is almost unavoidable for formal relationships to engage with informal expectations and preferences. This may not be surprising, yet it emphasizes the importance to reflect on relationships that emerge in the context of policy research. We live by the sake of networks that we create with other people, and the relationships these include are necessarily also personal and informal.