FSS Research awards


The FSS Dissertation Award seeks to increase the high quality of empirical research in the broad field of social sciences. In substantive terms, there is no restriction on the chosen topic of research. The granting of the FSS Dissertation Award is open to all FSS former PhD students that defended their dissertation in the past two years on the faculty. Each academic department of the FSS may annually nominate one candidate.

Nominations for 2019

Chei Billedo

Chei Billedo (Communication Science): ‘Never too far away? The Roles of Social Network Sites in Sojourners' Adjustment’

Once in their new country, many international students and expats have to deal with loneliness, homesickness and often find it difficult to connect. In her dissertation, Chei Billedo examined the extent to which social network sites such as Facebook help expats and international students to adapt and feel at home in their new homeland. She concludes that online social networks do not always positively affect adaptation. Contact via Facebook on days when you experience homesickness can be useful. Yet 'Facebooking' with the home front may not be favorable in the long run. The more international students use Facebook, the less they feel supported over time and the more they experience feelings of depression. For long distance romantic relationship, using Facebook for communication has more positive effects, especially when the couple experiences support for their long-distance relationship via social networks.

Nelly Schotborgh

Nelly Schotborgh-van de Ven (Political Science and Public Administration):  ‘De wortels van publieke fraude- en corruptie in het Caribisch deel van het Koninkrijk’

The Phd-study of Nelly Schotborgh-van de Ven is about public fraud and corruption in the Dutch Caribbean. She looks back briefly at the history of fraud and corruption and the development of these phenomena in the Caribbean. She studied 46 cases of (alleged) public fraud and corruption that were tried before the Court of Appeal in the Dutch Caribbean between 2000 and 2015. In this study the types of the cases and the organisations in which the fraud and corruption took place are described. Schotborgh analyzed which factors and conditions influence fraud and corruption in the public sector in the Dutch Caribbean. Finally, the results are placed in the context of the Dutch Caribbean with attention to administrative development, the political system, the financial-economic conditions and tourism, the history of colonial powers and slavery, the culture and religion, the geographical location and small scale.

Isminta Waldring

Ismintha Waldring (Sociology): ‘The fine art of boundary sensitivity: Second-generation professionals engaging with social boundaries in the workplace’

The pathways to success of Turkish-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch second-generation professionals are analyzed through the main research question of the thesis: How are social boundaries opening up for and being opened up by second-generation professionals in the workplace?
The relevance of this question is embedded in a societal context in which exclusive, bright social boundaries percolate into organizations, forcing a zero-sum identity choice by the second generation to become either someone on the inside of the boundary line, or outside of it.
The thesis shows that second-generation professionals refrain from making this zero-sum choice because they switch between “sameness” and “difference”, thereby simultaneously implementing aspects of various boundary strategies. This amounts to the strategy of “boundary sensitivity”. Through “sameness” boundary sensitivity makes room for the introduction of second-generation professional “newcomers” in organizational positions of influence and power. While through “difference”, boundary sensitivity can challenge social boundaries in organizations.

M van Wieringen

Marieke van Wieringen (Organisatiewetenschappen): ‘“Care is not just about care anymore”: Micro-level responses to institutional complexity and change in the Dutch home-care sector’ (winner)

The Dutch home-care sector is characterized by the co-existence of a professional care logic, which reflects values such as client-centeredness, quality of care and professional autonomy, and a managed care logic, which comprises standardization, accountability and efficiency. Marieke describes how managers and nurses act upon these conflicting logics, and changes in their relative dominance over time. She shows, first, that nurses, driven by compassion, deflect the influence of the managed care logic and sometimes deliver other types of care than formally allowed, so as to respond to clients’ needs that are otherwise not attended to, and that managers turn a blind eye to these practices. Second, she shows that, after a major reform in 2015, community health nurses struggle to re-habitualize a re-attributed central role in the caregiving process because the managed care logic continues to co-exist. Taken together, Marieke unravels the rational, normative and emotive underpinnings of actors’ micro-level responses to institutional complexity and change.

Previous years

Thijs Willems
Kasper Welbers
Maaike Matelski & Jeroen Wolbers
Dhoya Snijders
Nicoletta Dimitrova
Naná de Graaff

The FSS Research Award aims to bring the most appealing, promising and original research achievements into the spotlight. This recognition encourages the nominees to continue on the same foot, provides an example for other researchers, and enables the departments and the faculty as a whole to biennial contribute examples of research that contributes to accomplishing the mission of the faculty. The granting of the FSS Research Award is open to all FSS researchers, regardless their function and task. The granting of the FSS Research Award is not open to: a) persons who are part of the jury; b) persons who have already received the FSS Research Award in the previous five years. Each academic department of the FSS may biennial nominate one candidate.

Nominations for 2019


Halleh Ghorashi (Sociology) (winner)
Over the last 20 years, Ghorashi has been combining a variety of disciplinary angles (anthropology, sociology, gender studies, philosophy and organisation studies) to research the processes of inclusion and exclusion involved in migrants’ and refugees’ life trajectories. Drawing on her expertise in discourse analysis, ethnographic research, life stories, and experimental co-creative methodology, she has contributed to ongoing discussions on diversity and inclusion/belonging in the context of democratic culture. In 2018, she received an NWO-VICI grant for the project Engaged Scholarship and Narratives of Change in Comparative Perspective. This project aims to investigate and contribute to a more comprehensive and transformative form of co-operation between academia and society, based on the assumption that engaged scholarship has a role in enlarging societal/academic imaginations toward societal inclusion. The empirical goal of the project is the societal inclusion of refugees (by using narratives and co-creation methodology) in South Africa, the US, and The Netherlands.

De Graaff

Naná de Graaff (Political Science and Public Administration)
From Trump and trade war to Brexit and climate change, established elite networks and ways of governing are in crisis, at least in Western democracies. Challenged from within – with rampant populism, rising inequality and separatism - and from without, with rising China increasingly positioning itself as a global leader in politics and in the world economy. The crisis of elite leadership in the West thus coincides with a strengthening and increasingly pro-active elite leadership in China. With China’s rising influence this raises questions about how that will impact upon the liberal world and democracy. De Graaff’s research analyses the ways in which leading elites are responding to these challenges. Employing innovative mapping and social network analysis on newly assembled data bases she sheds light on these questions by investigating the changing configuration of elite power structures in America and China and the way this influences governance and international relations in the 21st century in times of great transition. 


Marieke Roskes (Organization Sciences)
Marieke Roskes studies the effects of motivation on well-being and performance. Her ambition is to develop interventions to reduce anxiety and enhance performance in organizations. She studies questions such as: How do motivation and workload influence burn-out, and how can it be prevented?  What can organizations do to translate creative ideas into responsible innovation? How should people organize their work to facilitate creativity? For example, people who are afraid of failure often work carefully and systematically. A fear of making mistakes and risk aversion make it difficult to come up with creative ideas, even though creativity may be crucial to innovate, adapt to changing demands, and stay ahead of competitors. Roskes developed a theoretical model predicting when and how constraints in the workplace facilitate creativity. Based on this model, in a current project funded by a veni grant of NWO, she tests interventions to enhance creativity in high pressure situations.


Thijl Sunier (Social and Cultural Antropology)
From the late 1970s onwards Thijl Sunier focussed on the study of migrants in Europe and their offshoot, mainly of Turkish origin. In the late 1980s his research agenda gradually shifted to Islam, and he conducted PhD research on Turkish Islamic organizations in Europe and Turkey. In the 1990s until the mid-2000s Sunier was involved in international research projects on Islam, education and nation-building in Europe. Later on he focused more on religiosity, religious authority, moral anthropology and religious worldmaking.  Currently Sunier is involved in an international project on Islam and digitization funded by Marie Curie ITN, called ‘Mediating Islam in the Digital Age’ (MIDA). The multidisciplinary project brings together several European Universities and fifteen young researchers from all over the world. Since 2010 Thijl Sunier is president of the Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies (NISIS) and since 2016 he is executive editor of the Journal of Muslims in Europe (JOME).

Mariken van der Velden

Mariken van der Velden (Communication Science)
Voters allegedly punish politicians for making compromises in government. Yet, virtually nothing is known about the consequences of compromises for politicians and voters. This lack of understanding is highly problematic, because societies face increasing political polarization and fragmentation. These trends make compromises increasingly necessary, but also hotly contested. To reconcile this tension, Mariken van der Velden theorizes that political compromises force politicians to strategically communicate their decisions in order to mitigate electoral costs. Comparing the Dutch, German and Spanish case, she tests her argument at three levels: (1) employing advanced computational text approaches coupled with case-oriented approaches to identify how politicians communicate compromises; (2) experimentally investigating voters' willingness to accept compromises using Virtual Reality techniques; and (3) bridging the two by utilizing regression and experimental techniques to study the real-world effects of compromises. Her research advances our understanding of voters' critical attitudes towards democratic processes, such as coalition government formation – referred to as ‘cartel politics’ by populists.

Johan Hoorn
Kees Boersmanominees
Christian Burgers
Marleen de Witte