SHLS-147s: Rethinking Service User and Carer Engagement strategies: Lessons from Science and Technology Studies

Country: United Kingdom;

Deadline: 31.07.2015



Applications are invited for a full-time PhD research studentship at Glasgow Caledonian University within the School of Health & Life Sciences. The studentship is for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and provides payment of tuition fees at the UK/EU rate plus an annual stipend of £14,800 [please note that students from outside the EU are required to pay the difference between International and EU fees, currently this would amount to £7,100 per annum]. The successful candidate will carry out up to 6 hours of academic-related work per week as part of their research training.

Research Project Summary

This research explores the ‘issue-oriented’ perspective on engagement strategies for service users and carers opened up by recent research in Science and Technology Studies (STS).It will address the question of why issue formation for service users and carers should be appreciated as a crucial dimension of democratic politics.

Since the 1990’s talk of engaging with ’the public’ and particularly service users and carers has become fashionable in policy circles especially in Europe. This phenomenon represents the coming together of several influential strands. First the growing significance and mobilisation of the "service user movement" has played a major part; second increasing concerns about issues of technological change relating to ’scientific issues’ of food, public health and the environment; and thirdly the way various crises and hostile reactions towards issues have signalled public mistrust and scepticism of government and public policy officials. The contribution of the field of Science and Technology studies (STS) to mainstream strategies of engagement with service users and carers has so far been slim. This project will deploy recent research in STS to rethink strategies of engagement with service users and carers and the broader public. Drawing on contemporary social science in Actor Network Theory, the sociology of material culture and object-oriented science the project will develop an innovative theoretical frame and new policy directions for engaging with publics within a Scottish context. It is proposed to work in partnership with Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) to develop a series of case studies using "deep dive" ethnographic techniques and network analysis to better understand the relationship between "engaged" service users and carers and professionals in the fields of allied and public health and social services. The analysis will frame the ‘attachments’ that people mobilize (and that mobilize people) in the performance of their concern with professionals in health and social care by examining (i) the highly contextualised character of engagement for the public, (ii) matters of controversy and concern and (iii) issue entanglements relating to the specific nature of their involvement.

Applicants must possess a minimum of a good honours degree (2:1) in social work, sociology, social anthropology or a related social sciences discipline. Experience in fieldwork research and/or ethnography would be advantageous.

For further information please contact:
Professor Stephen Webb or Pearse McCusker

How to Apply
Applicants should complete the University Research Application Form, available from:

Please send the form, stating the studentship project title and reference number, with a CV, copies of academic qualifications, references, and any other required documentation to:

Closing date for applications is Friday 31st July with interviews expected to take place 12th - 14th August.