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As many as 6 NWO grants for Leiden political scientists

Recently, a new round of NWO XS grants was awarded. This grant is given to researchers with small, high-risk, innovative or promising research projects by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). In this round of the so-called Open Competition XS, no fewer than six researchers from the Institute of Political Science got awarded.

About the NWO SGW Open Competition

The Dutch Research Council (NWO) ensures quality and innovation in science and is one of the most important science funders in the Netherlands. They organize various competitions within different domains. Of these, the SSH Open Competition XS is for smaller research projects within the Social Sciences and Humanities (SGW) domain. This concerns scholarships of up to 50,000 euros. This can be used, for example, for the appointment of new staff or for expenses related to their research.

Six grants for political scientists from Leiden

As many as six scientists from the Institute of Political Science were awarded grants for their research. Below is an overview with all researchers involved and a brief description of their research project.

Trapped in a stereotype with EU: The impact of cultural stereotypes in European border and police cooperation (TRAPS)

Adina Akbik

Cultural stereotypes are pervasive in European Union (EU) governance, creating conflicts between national governments and fuelling anti-EU sentiments among voters. Yet while stereotypes have been studied in political rhetoric and media coverage, we know little about their impact on the behaviour of public officials. Based on vignette experiments, TRAPS explores the feasibility of researching the effect of cultural stereotypes in EU governance. The project is the first of its kind because it studies stereotypes among street-level bureaucrats who work in EU border and police cooperation. The ambition is to establish an original research agenda on cultural stereotypes in transnational bureaucracies.

International courts in an era of smartphones and social media – improving human rights accountability?

Gisela Hirschmann

Videos shared on social media have become important evidence to hold perpetrators of human rights violations accountable. What does this increased use of digital open source evidence mean for the quality of international human rights accountability? Does it make international courts more efficient in ensuring human rights accountability, as many assume? And what can be done to mitigate potential downsides, such as deep fakes and implicit biases in legal judgments? Through an innovative experimental design, this project will help us understand how perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide are held accountable most effectively for their crimes.

Social distance and foreign policy preferences: Why we help some but not others (SOCIAL)

Hilde van Meegdenburg

The war on Ukraine came as a shock to many. People took to the streets to express their solidarity and Mark Rutte soon promised and send anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles. This reaction stands in stark contrast to conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. SOCIAL introduces Bogardus’ Social Distance Theory to political science and studies social distance—the degree of sympathetic understanding that exists between people—in relation to people’s foreign policy preferences. Using vignette-based surveys, SOCIAL studies whether a perceived social distance to the victims of conflict shapes people’s willingness to allocate public resources to provide (military) support.

When do women participate in politics? Studying networks of information and social pressure

Jonathan Phillips

When close contacts share information, women can be empowered to participate in politics. But relationships also convey social pressures that can discourage or encourage participation. We explore whether these competing processes explain persistent gender gaps in participation. To understand the conditions under which women participate, an experimental encouragement invites already-surveyed citizens to a public meeting. Varying the gender of the invitee and an encouragement to bring others, we distinguish the relative importance of information from social pressure. If informed women participate, and mobilize other women too, this is a strong signal of how networks empower women to participate in politics.

Populism Crisis Nexus

Vasiliki (Billy) Tsagkroni

Major societal crises disrupt organisational practices, threaten individual and institutional reputations, and require rapid political responses. However, the identification and interpretation of situations that may be perceived as crises is a socially constructed process. The existing literature shows that populist actors harness and exploit crises for political gain, but very little is known about the ways in which they construct and instrumentalise crisis. Obtaining this knowledge is crucial in light of the global decline of democracy, and the rise of populist and anti-democratic parties around the world.

From Mimesis to Metaphor: Reconciling Nature and Humanity in the Age of Climate Crisis

Rebecca Ploof

The climate crisis is often seen as a product of human hubris and humanity’s domination of nature. Confronting the need to reimagine the human-nature relationship, many political theorists argue that humans are not special and call for humility. But humility is an indeterminate value that can lead to political domination. How can humans relate to nature modestly while remaining free? In this project I use the history of political thought to develop a new theory of the human-nature relationship suited to the climate crisis in which humans are both part of and distinct from nature and humbled yet nevertheless free.

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