Y. Goris (Yannicke)
PhD candidate - Empirical Political Science
6525 AJ NIJMEGEN
6500 HK NIJMEGEN
Yannicke Goris is a PhD candidate in the political science department, supervised by Prof C. van Ham and Prof W. van Meurs. Her research, with the working title "Angels and demons contesting civic space: The role of civil society in promoting and undermining democracy" examines the contestation over civic space in periods of democratic erosion.
It is generally assumed that civic space shrinks in times of democratic erosion; that freedoms of civil society (the supposed protector and engine of democracy) are curtailed. In her research, Yannicke shows that the story is more complex. Democratic erosion does not necessarily mean an overall shrinkage of civic space; rather, it results in change and reconfiguration. Whereas for some organisations civic space does shrink and their freedoms are drastically curtailed, for others new spaces and opportunities may emerge. Moreover, the struggle over the boundaries and configuration of civic space is not only fought between civil society and the state; contestation also takes place between civil society organisations themselves.
The strategies and (inter)actions of organisations in the contestation over civic space provide insight into their position vis-à-vis democracy. Sometimes they indeed take on their assigned role of democratic 'angels'. Sometimes, however, their actions may actually undermine democracy. Yannicke analyses this complex role of civil society organisations by comparing historical and contemporary developments in 4 countries; Poland, Croatia, Kenya & Zambia.
This interdisciplinary project combines a historical and political science perspective. Moreover, great importance is attached to learning from and exchanging with practitioners, so that scientific insights can be put to use to support civil society in the promotion of democracy.