In 2015, 50 candidates were awarded a doctoral degree by the Faculty. Please see the following list with summaries of some of the most recent theses. Search in Diva for more.
Trude Mariane Midtgård
The International Monetary Fund, Violence and the Prospects for Democratization
What are the domestic political costs of accepting a program from the International Monetary Fund? IMF programs are surrounded by controversy and innumerable claims of their negative political and social effects in the recipient countries. A main claim is that they cause outbreaks of violence, increased repression from the government and a reduction in civil liberties and democracy. The dominating theoretical framework suggests a causal relationship where programs from the IMF cause hardship to which the citizens respond with rebellion. The government responds to the increased threat with increased repression. The scientific evidence for this suggested causal relationship is, however, surprisingly scant and contradictory. On the one hand, participation in IMF programs has been found to cause increased repression in the borrowing countries. Other studies have found that IMF programs are associated with higher levels of democracy. Thus, the existing body of research contains a puzzle the dominating theoretical framework is unable to explain combined with fragile and contradictory empirical findings.
This thesis presents and tests an alternative theoretical framework and causal relationship for how and whether IMF programs are associated with violence and the prospects for democratization in the borrowing countries. Governments are already weakened by economic crisis when they negotiate a program with the IMF. Hard economic reforms further reduce the political support for the regime, trust in its ability to handle the economic crisis and its future in office. This increases the support for the opposition from ordinary citizens as well as from previous supporters of the regime. Repression is costly, and a weakened regime will often choose to offer limited political reforms instead of using violent repression as a strategy to survive in office. At the same time, the backdrop of a severe economic crisis provides acquiescence from the citizens to hard austerity measures, because the prospect of an unsolved economic crisis is worse than short-term economic reforms with the purpose to stabilize the economy and restore growth.
This theoretical framework is tested in four separate articles. The results provide no evidence of increased violence following participation in IMF programs in the form of violent riots, civil war or violent repression. Instead, this thesis finds that economic crises and hard adjustment and stabilization measures from the IMF have political costs for the regime in the form of increased political influence for the opposition. This is possible because the programs contribute to increased political participation and provide the opposition with a window of opportunity to grow from increased popular sympathy and the opportunity to forge new alliances with previous supporters of the regime.
Handlingsrom og læringsmuleghetar. – Ein studie av vilkår for læring og kunnskapsutvikling ved sosialkontor og sjukeheim.
The purpose of this study is to gain knowledge about what kind of individual and organizational conditions that facilitate or hinder learning knowledge-development and transfer of knowledge in street-level units within public services as social agencies and nursing homes.
The study is a comparative, qualitative case-study carried out in social agencies and in nursing homes in two Norwegian municipalities. Data are established on basis of in-depth interviews, observation and informal talks, over a period of 12 weeks in the field. They are analysed and interpreted in the light of theoretical perspectives for learning.
The analysis of data reveals two main categories of practitioners; named reflective practitioners and everyday practitioners. The reflective practitioners are further categorized in five sub-groups; analytical, relational, practical-network-oriented, critical and visionary, based on their specific characteristics in meeting with and solving situations. These practitioners are by the strength of their different characteristics and driving-forces, able to create and make use of a space-of-action in their daily work. This represents a condition to learn beyond what in the thesis is named “here-and-now”.
The analysis also shows that if these practitioners’ “beyond here-and-now” knowledge is to be transferred to the organization, it has to be received, that means, it has to be listened to, discussed, acknowledged and implemented on the organizational level. Leader-support is important. A central finding is that most of the practitioners only to a small degree articulate their own knowledge, unless they are asked to do so. This means that the practical knowledge mainly stays tacit.
According to the findings, well organized working-processes, leaders that are accessible and who understand the professionals’ knowledge, meeting-arenas which give room for reflection, and working cultures which give room for use of discretion, contribute as facilitating conditions for learning and knowledge-development, both on an individual and a collective level.
In Norway, the learning perspective is still not often used to study social work practice. Thus, as for this field, this study represents at contribution.
Growing up in Poverty in Ethiopia:
This thesis explores the experiences of cohort children living in poverty in specific communities in Ethiopia. By adopting the life course perspective and drawing on longitudinal data, the study investigates the children’s changing experiences of poverty over the course of their childhood. The life course approach helped understand childhood poverty in time and in contexts, and the interplay between structure and children’s agency.
The study adopted the ‘mosaic’ approach involving mapping, drawings, group discussions, individual interviews and observations. Children remained as the main source of the data. The children followed diverse life courses, mainly because poverty and other structures dictated their life trajectories differently. It also shows that children demonstrated their agency in a variety of ways, which in return influenced their trails. Unlike some of the theoretical suppositions which claim that people remain poor and transfer poverty over generations because of their beliefs, attitudes and behaviors this study confirms that children hold the belief, and act to change their poor economic situations.
Children from poor families carry high aspirations and are motivated for actions that would help them move out of poverty. Through their aspirations, children postulate their life course, then act to realize it, but, ultimately, their trajectories are determined by the interplay between social structure and their agency. Poverty, policy contexts, local norms and family situations challenges children’s endeavour to change their lives through education. Poor children were more likely to do paid work to earn a living, rural children were unable to access preschools and private schools because they are not available in their areas, and in some contexts girls had to marry ending their educational aspirations.
The study concludes by suggesting that ending national poverty entails breaking intergenerational poverty. As child poverty is multidimensional and longitudinal, it requires comprehensive interventions to continue until children make a successful transition to adulthood. National poverty reduction begins with overcoming children’s ‘life course poverty’ through ‘life course development’.
Live Bakke Finne
Influence of psychological and social work factors on mental health
The overall aim of this thesis was broadening the scope of specific psychological and social work factors investigated as possible predictors of employees` mental health, focusing on mental distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression).
Design was prospective full-panel (i.e. measurement of all variables at each time-point) with a two-year follow-up period. Data was gathered by questionnaire. Organizations represented a wide variety of occupations and job types. Study I included 20 organizations with 1971 respondents in the prospective sample. Study II included 48 organizations with a prospective sample of 3644 employees. Study III incorporated 63 organizations and had a prospective sample of 4158 employees. Different statistical designs were employed in all three studies. This was done as the optimal exposure-outcome measurement interval is unknown and to elucidate which factors were the most consistent predictors across analyses.
Study I demonstrated both “normal” (i.e. work as predictor of health) and “reversed” (i.e. health as predictor of work) relations between workplace bullying and mental distress.
In study II, 14 of 19 work factors showed some prospective relation to incidence of mental distress “caseness”, while role conflict, support from immediate superior, fair leadership, and positive challenge were consistent predictors. Prevalence of “cases” was 11.9 % (n = 432) at baseline.
Study III demonstrated that eight of 10 work factors; decision control, role conflict, positive challenge, support from immediate superior, fair leadership, commitment to organization, human resource primacy, and social climate, were consistently related to mental distress and positive affect. Rumors of change was a consistent predictor of mental distress only. Impact of exposures was most pervasive and consistent at the individual level, however, department level relations were also demonstrated for all work factors.
In conclusion, a broad set of psychological and social work factors predicted mental health. Role conflict, support from immediate superior, fair leadership, and positive challenge were seemingly particularly important as these were consistent predictors of mental distress “caseness”. Many of the work factors associated with mental health were others than those traditionally studied. Knowledge obtained through the present work should be highly useful for organizations in developing practical efforts targeting employees` health.
Roy Aksel Waade
Tegnspråk i musikken:
This dissertation is about the sign-language, Soundpainting, which was created in the middle of the 1970s in New York, by the American jazz/avant-garde musician Walter Thompson. I wanted to find the reason why Thompson made this sign language and understand the ideology characterizing it – from a postmodern focus on "everyday life" and irony, and interdisciplinary ideas about linking music. dance, acting and visual art forms closer together. Soundpainting can be used in different contexts, whether you're talking about "pure" Soundpainting-performances, or Soundpainting used as an "ingredient" in different music-settings, or together with other disciplines of art- whether you are performing on a stage or for instance in a classroom. And it was particularly with regard to the latter aspect I would consider Soundpainting: How would it be to learn this sign language for the music students at our university-college, and how would they experience using it during their practice periods, together with pupils and practice-teachers in primary school and in Music & Art-school? I wanted to find out what possibilities this sign language can give us, particularly related to the field of improvisation, because of the lack of "didactic tools" in working with improvisation, spontaneity and creativity in the educational/performative field. But I would also focus on the musical, communicative and didactical challenges we meet when music shall be created on the basis of gestures given by a "conductor", called a Soundpainter - and then developed and "negotiated" in an ensemble.