Completed Doctorates at PRIF

Four doctoral students defended their dissertations in 2023

Promoting early career researchers is one of the institute’s central tasks. This year, four of our doctoral students success­fully defended their disser­tations. We congra­tulate this year's doctoral graduates Hande Abay Gaspar, Ben Christian, Anton Peez and Clara-Auguste Süß.

In her disser­tation, Hande Abay Gaspar investi­gated which social and political oppor­tunity structures can promote or slow down violent radi­cali­zation and which mechanisms are triggered in the process. To this end, she used a compa­rative causal process analysis to reconstruct the radi­cali­zation process of a violent and a non-violent Salafist group in Germany and thus identified conditional factors that can promote or inhibit violence. Hande Abay Gaspar is now co-head of the research group “Radi­cali­zation” at PRIF. She is also co-project leader of the project “PrEval – Zukunfts­werkstätten”.

Ben Christian’s disser­tation is the first to examine the question of how inter­national orga­nizations (IOs) deal with criticism from their own employees. He argues that the internal “culture of criticism” is a crucial (and so far largely overlooked) variable that can explain why many IOs do not learn from their mistakes. Although most IOs have built up a professional “learning infra­structure” in recent years, the repressive handling of internal dissent prevents these formal structures from realizing their full potential. At the same time, the work shows that this specific attitude towards “criticism from within” is not only dysfunc­tional. The repressive culture of criticism also ensures orga­nizational stability and enables inter­national orga­nizations to remain capable of acting in an extremely contra­dictory environment. The work explains this “criticism dilemma” theoretically and shows empirically how IOs deal with it. Ben Christian is now a research associate at Goethe University Frankfurt.

In her doctoral project, Clara-Auguste Süß investi­gated the connection between violent Islamist radi­cali­zation, margi­nali­zation and demo­crati­zation in post-revolutionary Tunisia and highlighted the ambi­valence of demo­crati­zation processes. Based on theoretical causal mechanisms, a compre­hensive frame analysis of the online output of jihadist actors and an investi­gation of the perspectives of (potential) supporters of these actors based on field research, she argues for the need to include margi­nali­zation in research on radi­cali­zation dynamics. Clara-Auguste Süß has been working as a research associate at Goethe University Frankfurt since September 2023.

Anton Peez’ disser­tation examined whether eco­nomic sanctions intended to improve democracy and human rights in the targeted country in fact do so. He revisited this key question in IR research with new data, empirical methods, and in a more recent timeframe than past work has, finding that sanctions likely still have negative effects on average, despite signi­ficant 21st century policy inno­vations such as ‘targeted sanctions.’ Beyond these substantive findings, Anton Peez’ disser­tation also contributes to ongoing discussions surrounding replication and systematic review in the social science. Anton Peez has been working as a postdoctoral researcher at Goethe University Frankfurt since this year.