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The Henrik and Karolina von Mentzer European Studies Thesis Awards

The Henrik and Karolina von Mentzer European Studies Thesis Awards are granted to one thesis examined within the Bachelor’s Programme in European Studies, and one thesis examined within the Master’s Programme in European Studies, at the University of Gothenburg. The purpose of the award is to acknowledge and encourage research on Europe and European integration which focuses especially on matters of social exclusion, xenophobia, discrimination, democracy, and multiculturalism.

The award was inaugurated in the spring of 2016 to promote the spirit and the overall objective of the Henrik and Karolina von Mentzer fundraising foundation, which was established in 2015.

The winners of the award will be presented at the Centre for European Studies (CES) annual Graduation Ceremony of the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes in European Studies. The winners will be awarded a prize of 2500 SEK each. The Graduation Ceremony is normally held in October each year.

Nominations to the award are done by thesis supervisors and graders. The nominations will then be discussed by CES grading committee. The final decision is made the the Programme Board of the European Studies Programmes.

Winners of the Henrik and Karolina Mentzer Thesis Award


2018 Bachelor Thesis                                Elin Nyberg

Can Information Increase Turnout In The European Parliament Elections? The perks of political conversation for the uninterested’


‘Can Information Increase Turnout in the European Parliament Elections?’ authored by Elin Nyberg speaks directly to the purpose of the award in its emphasis on matters of social exclusion and democracy. The departure point for the thesis is the well-known finding that politically interested individuals turn out to vote in large numbers, but that we have much less understanding about what motivates less politically interested individuals to vote. In a scholarly competent way, Elin clearly positions her study to the existing scientific research, and give a relevant contribution to the literature on the relationship between different types of information and voting participation among politically uninterested citizens. In formulating theory and structuring the analysis, Nyberg capably reviews a large amount of relevant previous research. Elin’s quantitative analysis of 2014 European Election Studies data reports that among individuals with low amounts of political interest, those that were exposed to more information about the EU and European elections in the weeks prior to the 2014 European Parliament elections were more likely to vote. The results further indicated that personal conversations were a particularly important means of information and that this was the case in both the older and newer member states of the EU. Thus Elin finds that information, particularly from friends and family members, does indeed increase the likelihood that a politically uninterested individual votes. In terms of her own analysis, Nyberg identifies potential weaknesses in the data and addresses them in the empirical model. She also tests several different model specifications in order to strengthen the legitimacy of her results. Nyberg’s thesis exposes the variation of premises for voter participation in elections to the European Parliament, and is therefore very relevant to the overarching subject of democracy, which is one of the topics highlighted in the announcement of the thesis award.

2018 Master Thesis                                Kristin Clay

‘“The grandiosity of tasks and mediocrity of tool”: Confronting the transnational social question with mobile CEE citizens’ experiences in Sweden’

Motivering (på engelska)

‘”The grandiosity of tasks and mediocrity of tool”: Confronting the transnational social question with mobile CEE citizens’ experiences in Sweden’, authored by Kristin Clay, is a well referenced and unique thesis aiming at a critical analysis of the ‘West’ in largely debated and researched phenomenon of the East-West mobility since the 2004 EU enlargement. The thesis expands the normative analysis of the intra-EU mobility beyond its economic impact. The key focus is on the perspectives of mobile CEE citizens, rather than workers, especially with regard to how these perspectives can expose aspects of othering through the ongoing social and political inequalities within the EU. The thesis challenges a predominant assumption that the freedom of movement is truly universal for all citizens of the EU. Adopting the theoretical lens of coloniality, the author develops an innovative analytical framework in order to assess critically the cornerstones of the EU as a supranational collaborative project, including the norms and the principles surrounding the EU citizenship, the freedom of moment, and the EU’s social dimension. Through the analysis of qualitative interviews with the EU mobile citizens in Sweden, against the backdrop of the selected EU and Swedish official documents, the thesis concludes that the obstacles that the new EU citizens encounter, and the strategies they employ to overcome those, witness about the fact that Sweden as a member state and the EU at large neglect to recognize the transnational aspect of the social question in Europe, and fail to seek solutions on a transnational level. In view of the increasing discord between EU member states, Brexit, and the growth of far-right political sentiments, the thesis compels scholars to acknowledge the historical power asymmetries within Europe and their ongoing effects in order to sustain the future of European integration. In doing so, the thesis speaks right to the heart of the award’s purpose by convincingly presenting highly original, self-reflexive and independent theorization of the frequently overlooked social aspect of European integration.

2017 Bachelor Thesis                     Linnéa Johansson

Asylsökande barns rättigheter och barnkonventionen: en jämförande studie av rättighetsdiskursen i Sverige och Danmark

Justification (in Swedish)

Linnéa Johanssons studie ”Asylsökande barns rättigheter och barnkonventionen: en jämförande studie av rättighetsdiskursen i Sverige och Danmark” är ett fint exempel på en nyfikenhetsbaserad uppsats som med engagemang parat med anpassning till de vetenskapliga krav som ställs på ett examensarbete på kandidatnivå genomförts på ett helt utmärkt sätt. Författaren skriver distinkt, ändamålsenligt och mycket väl. Uppsatsen är för att vara på kandidatnivå väl förankrad i sin teori och metod, i sitt material och sin analys. Ur betygsprotokollet framgår att studien är väl genomförd i dess olika delar. Den har en bra och mycket tydlig problemformulering som bygger på en iakttagen spänning mellan nationalstaters önskan om att kontrollera invandringen och Barnkonventionens framhållande av rättigheter. En extra dimension tillkommer då flykting- och invandringsdiskussionen tycks handla om solidaritet mellan medlemsländer snarare än solidaritet med flyktingar. Det görs poängfulla och bra motiverade val av länder. Syfte och frågor är väl fungerande. Uppsatsen argumenterar på ett bra sätt för att jämföra de två länderna utifrån likheter i välfärdssystem och skillnader i integrationsnormer och policy. Jämförelsen är konsekvent genomförd. Det är bra att författaren försöker integrera teoriperspektiven diskurs och governance. Här finns en bra redogörelse för befintlig forskning och görs en utmärkt positionering av studien i relation till den tidigare forskningen. Sammanfattningsvis bedömdes uppsatsen med betygen väl godkänd.

2017 Master Thesis                       Julia Synnelius

Translating gender equality. A case study about the EU gender policy's politicizing capacity


Julia Synnelius has authored an excellent thesis with great relevance to both European Studies and the Henrik and Karolina von Mentzer European Studies Thesis Award. While the thesis studies whether a certain EU development program has the potential to politicize gender issues, and thereby contribute to progressive policy developments within these fields, it also contains broader implications for the EU:s gender policies, as well as relevant theoretical discussions. Julia shows that she has a deep understanding of the relevant literature, as well as a good understanding of how to design an inquiry of relevance to her field. She also has a clear grasp of the methodology she uses (interviews), and the thesis includes a transparent and initiated discussion of her results. While no thesis is perfect, Julia also performed excellently during the oral parts of the thesis examination procedure. While she acknowledged some of the limitations of her study, she also gave an excellent motivation for the choice which she had had to make. I would therefore like to nominate Julia’s thesis for the Henrik and Karolina von Mentzer European Studies Thesis Award.

2016 Bachelor thesis                    Lisa Gastaldi

Protest eller ideologi? Vänsterpopulism och väljarbeteende i Europaparlamentsval


The thesis tackles the question of what drives voting for left-wing populist parties in European Parliament elections, arguing that research on populist parties is too focused on right-wing populism. In the wake of the success of parties such as Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece this issue is highly salient for understanding the development of European democracies. The thesis convincingly argues that a vote for a left-wing populist party can either be understood as a preference for more left-wing policies, or as a protest against the political establishment. The empirical study is ambitious and well-motivated, and for a bachelor thesis methodologically advanced. The previous research and theory section is comprehensive, and the author develops reasonable hypotheses to be tested. The thesis studies votes for seven left-wing populist in the 2014 EP election, using data from the European Election Survey. Two logistic regression models test the hypotheses of the thesis, and the author controls for other political attitudes and socio-demographic variables as well as including country dummies. The analysis shows that both left-wing ideology and dissatisfaction with the existing government have statistically significant effects. The thesis identifies an important gap in the research literature and shows the ability to use and adapt existing theories to investigate this gap, combined with an excellent empirical study. The author shows an unusually mature methodological awareness for a bachelor thesis. The author also extensively discusses the implications of the study for our understanding of left-wing populism and for European democracies at large.

2016 Master thesis                    Clemens Schubert

Patriotic and anti-islam, but European? What European means for Pegida in Dresden


Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (German: Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes), abbreviated PEGIDA or Pegida, is a nationalist, anti-Islam, far-right political movement. Clemens Schubert’s thesis is an analysis of Pegida as a new, European Social Movement. The thesis analyses the way Pegida constructs European identity, through framing notions of the “European” both as something essentially different than “Islam” as well as being a shared experience of Europeans of all nations to be ruled by European elite of politicians. Combining approaches in the research field of social movements with Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory/methodology Schubert makes an innovative discourse analysis of speeches given at Pegida demonstrations in the German city of Dresden. Schubert shows that in PEGIDA discourse, European signifies values, freedoms, norms and principles among which the freedom of expression and sexual rights gain central importance. “European” is thus constituted as a unity to be defended against alleged cultural invasions by Muslim immigrants and multiculturalism. This is also to say that Schubert comes to important conclusions about European identity in an age of growing populism and rising levels of tensions where religion and national belonging are given new meanings. Schubert’s thesis if of high academic quality and displays an impressive grasp on several bodies of scholarly literature. He shows a commendable ability to reflect these literatures critically as he synthesizes them to a coherent framework. His thesis contributes to our knowledge of present day xenophobia as well as to our understanding of democracy and multiculturalism.

Page Manager: Webbredaktionen|Last update: 5/8/2019

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