Faculty of Social and Educational Sciences

Doctoral theses

In 2016, 49 candidates were awarded a doctoral degree by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Technology Management. Please see the following list with summaries of some of the most recent theses. Search in NTNU Open for more.

Marianne Garvik

Mangfold og inkludering i arbeidslivet i Sverige, Danmark og Norge. En komparativ studie av reisende ideer og utviklingstrender i den skandinaviske velferdsmodellen
{Diversity and Labour Market Inclusion in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. A Comparative Study of Travelling Ideas and Trends in the Scandinavian Welfare Model }

Marianne Garvik

Central reforms throughout the 90s and forward have influenced the approaches to, and construction of, risk groups within welfare states. The new context of the modern welfare state, with new ideas and policy learning, frames this study when focusing on the welfare policy development in the Scandinavian countries. The study has a particular focus on policies and measurements developed to involve migrants and people with disability in the labour market. At the same time, focus is on to which degree the policy developments are in line with the basic principles of the traditional Scandinavian welfare model, or if they differ. Key focuses for the study are the mechanisms that drive the changing process, the motives behind the implemented policies and how the political actors legitimate their choices. The meaning of ideas and discourse to explain policy change plays a central role, and is analysed in connection to history, institutions and empirical data.

The study shows that the Scandinavian countries have been very willing to learn throughout the 90s and forwards. The influence has been especially strong from the UK, but also through their relationships with the EU and the Nordic corporation. These changes are expressed both through a new discourse and through provision of new policy approaches and measurements. Nevertheless, the learning process has not been a one-way dialogue.

Through my analysis I find both similarities and differences between the Scandinavian countries. In every Scandinavian country the universal and individual approach is a more emphasized political ambition than group thinking and targeting measurements. They have all implemented an overall anti-discrimination package, increased their focus on work first strategies and activation as well as limited the use of passive measurements and benefits. Still, the degree of austerity and institutional changes has been different. Despite an overall universal philosophy there can be identified differences in use of measurements and sanctions in the welfare policies to the different target groups. There are tendencies to offer comprehensive measurements to people with disabilities, while immigrants are defined into fast tracks and easier inclusion measures. As a result, immigrants risks a ‘swing door-effect’ between unsecured work and tightened welfare arrangements, while people with disability have an increased risk to be trapped between different welfare measurements or subsidized employment.

Olga V. Lehmann

The Cultural Psychology of Silence
— Treasuring the Poetics of Affect at the Core of Human Existence

Olga V. Lehmann

In striving to develop resources to better understand affective processes, psychology acknowledges both the possibilities and limitations of language for giving account of the richness of these experiences. Yet, the silent aspects of affective processes need scientific exploration. Silence-phenomena are not “empty” black holes, but rather constitute space for affect; they represent the possibility to embrace relational depth and existential nourishment.

This thesis builds upon the premises and models from Valsiner’s approach to cultural psychology and Vygotsky’s understanding of poetry, so as to recognize affect as being at the core of human existence. These theoretical perspectives are integrated with those of Humanistic and Existential Psychology, as well as those of Dialogical Self Theory. In order to accomplish this theoretical integration, silence-phenomena and poetry serve as magnifying glasses to explore the tensions that form affective processes. These considerations are further explored on the basis of the empirical material gathered from a class about silence-phenomena held at the Institute of Experts in Team at NTNU. Diary entries and e-mail follow-ups of four case studies are analyzed intra-individually as well as inter-individually through a developmentally oriented approach to thematic analysis. The data analysis indicates that contact with poetry and the experience of silence-phenomena act as contrasts with ordinary life experiences, thereby amplifying the perception of uncertainty. Both silence-phenomena and poetry are related to the notion of verticality, creating discontinuities in the perception of chronological time, and opening up a phenomenological space that can potentially help human beings to reconcile and accept the contradictory and opposing forces that belong to the human condition.

Relational depth and existential nourishment can blossom in this space. Once we have come into contact with the contrasts that silence-phenomena and poetry provoke, attentional shifts appear that allow the individual to relate to them with different degrees of immersion or detachment that are critical for meaning-making and genuine dialogues.

All these aspects are further addressed theoretically in order to bring the affect that lies at the core of human existence into cultural psychology. The limitations of this research and further directions for the scientific development of these ideas are also addressed.

Moa Nyamwathi Lønning

Fragmented journeys, social relations and age amongst Afghan young people on the move towards Europe
— Positioning, negotiating and redefining

Moa Nyamwathi Lønning

This thesis seeks to participate in the intellectual debate on journeys. It looks at journeys as a part of the migration process worth investigating given their potentially significant temporal and experiential nature. This has been approached through the case study of Afghan young people on the move towards Europe. Afghan young people are a group known for undertaking long and arduous overland and irregularised journeys. Furthermore, they represent the largest group of unaccompanied minor asylum-seekers arriving in Europe for almost a decade. The journey has been used as an analytical entry point to access the young people’s life-histories. It thus engages with the phenomenon of journeys as physical process, construct and narrative. Research on journeys has been largely neglected in migration and refugee studies. The thesis thus seeks to contribute with literature to address this gap.

A multi-sited study based on narratives, ethnographic fieldwork and creative methods, it concerns research with three groups of young Afghans as defined by their legal status: (i) undocumented young Afghans in Greece, (ii) international protection holders in Norway, and (iii) rejected asylum-seekers in Norway. The study has 27 main informants between the ages of 15 and 24. It focuses on the young people’s positioning, negotiation and redefining. Through an exploration of journey trajectories, social relations, and the relation between age and vulnerability, their coping strategies and everyday experiences are explored.

The findings show that the young people’s journeys were non-linear and represent fragmented multi-(re)directional trajectories. Arrival in Norway did not signify an end to the journey, but rather reconfigured physical journeys into legal trajectories. Social relations are important for the young people’s experiences, and represent resources in the migratory process and upon settlement that are actively drawn upon. Moreover, by choosing a case study where those migrating are young and thus configure between different regimes of immigration and child protection, age becomes of central social and experiential relevance in understanding such journeys and accompanying transitions. Young people on the move are confronted with a system where chronological age is crucial, and where its impact reveals itself differently across contexts.

Kyrre Groven

Kommunane og klimautfordringa
– Ein studie av lokal klimagovernace i Norge

Kyrre Groven

Kyrre Groven’s thesis pertains to the way Norwegian municipalities have handled the challenge of climate change, and is based on municipal environmental policy research conducted at Vestlandsforsking. The four articles cover early engagement in planning for climate emission cuts around 2000, subsequent mapping of vulnerability to climate-related hazards, and climate change adaptation. Hence, this work illustrates the development of climate governance (governance is public steering in cooperation with business and the civil society), and sheds light on how climate policy objectives have been integrated into three sectors: planning and environmental protection, civil protection, and water and wastewater.

In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development introduced sustainable development as a solution to global environmental and poverty problems. With the emergence of anthropogenic climate change, the urgency of transformation to sustainability has become more evident. Key prerequisites for sustainable development include integration of environmental objectives and values into economic decision-making and public management interaction with a wide range of actors and across scales. For these reasons, governance, policy integration, and scale are chosen as theoretical approaches to a cross-cutting analysis of the papers. The overall research question is as follows: How can we understand the emergence of climate policy in Norwegian municipalities in light of the theoretical concepts governance, policy integration and scale?

The governance analysis is based on a framework that portrays contrasting dimensions of hierarchy, market and network, the three ideal types of governance, and demonstrates a large potential for change when these are deliberately combined. The empirical data contains two examples of how network-building has contributed to gathering support for a policy change that was in turn consolidated through hierarchical governance. While the literature points at network governance as the preferable approach to handling climate change, the present discussion concludes that network and hierarchy complement each other: Hierarchical governance is not sufficient for mobilizing society’s inherent knowledge and initiative, whereas new forms of governance can easily fail if not supplemented by traditional government. Another conclusion is that the Norwegian Government should encourage all municipalities to catch up with the few pioneers of climate change governance.

Beate Wold Hygen

Individual differences in children’s social development. A gene by environment (GXE) study

Beate Wold Hygen

Children may be differently affected by environmental influences. The aim of the current thesis was to examine how children’s genotype interacts with various environmental factors in the development of social behavior and relationships. In two of the three papers (papers II and III), we tested whether some children are merely vulnerable to adversity (diathesis stress), or, susceptible to negative and positive environmental influences (differential susceptibility).

The data applied in this thesis stem from the Norwegian longitudinal cohort study, the Trondheim Early Secure Study (TESS). The sample included 704 children genotyped for catechol-O-methyltransferase Val158Met (COMT, rs4680) and 652 genotyped for the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR, rs53576). Children ages four (T1), six (T2), and eight years (T3) were examined.

The results of the first study demonstrated that children’s genotype (COMT) moderated the effect of disorganized attachment over time (from four to six years) on social behavior (aggression and social competence). More specific; children who scored high on disorganization and were carriers of Valine/Valine (Val/Val), showed significantly greater increases in aggression over time compared to highly disorganized children carrying the methionine (Met) allele. Met carriers who were highly disorganized, increased their social competence (other-oriented) more than disorganized Val homozygotes. The results were interpreted to reflect two distinct developmental trajectories disorganized children usually follow: controlling-punitive and controlling-caregiving. In study II, the results showed that COMT moderated the effect of serious life events on aggression. Some children depending on genotype (Val/Val) displayed the highest aggression scores in the presence of serious life events but the lowest aggression scores in the absence of such events. The findings conformed to the differential susceptibility hypothesis. Finally, the results from paper III revealed that change in parenting, from four to six years, predicted change in the student-teacher relationship, from six to eight years, for children with a specific genotype of OXTR rs53576; when parenting changed for the better, the teacher-child relationship improved accordingly. When parenting changed for the worse, the student-teacher relationship also changed for the worse. The findings conformed to the differential susceptibility framework.

See more theses: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 10:13:57 +0100