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Jonathan Webb

BA (Hons) (Sheffield), MSc (Cum Laude) (Leiden)

PhD Research Student

Contact Details:

Email: j.webb@sheffield.ac.uk

Office Hours:
Thursdays, 13:30-14:30 - Room 2:02, Elmfield Building



Thesis Title: The EU and Democratisation in Serbia
Supervisors: Professor Andrew Geddes and Dr Simon Rushton

Summary of research:

Scholars and practitioners have been puzzled as to why some countries integrate the EU’s liberal values more effectively than others. In light of this, my doctoral thesis focuses on the relationship between the EU and the institutionalisation of its ‘democratic’ norms in Serbia. My research places particular emphasis on the interrelationship between EU democratisation processes and domestic social processes. My research is guided by two interlinked research questions:

1. What are the key logics driving the EU’s democratisation approach?

By understanding the values which inform certain logics driving the EU’s democratisation approach, the underlying substance of the EU’s democratisation approach can be uncovered. Uncovering this substance can help explain how and under what circumstances, the EU’s democratisation approach is likely to result in countries integrating the EU’s liberal values:

2. How effective is the EU’s democratisation approach in institutionalising EU democratic norms in Serbia?

By embracing a dynamic conceptualisation of the norm diffusion process, I suggest the EU’s democratisation approach constitutes a socialisation process. This process not only diffuses specific norms, but also seeks to transform the rationalities of Serbian actors. By anchoring my research from this perspective, emphasis is placed on the manner in which norms are diffused, translated and institutionalised in configuration with existing social structures.

My research seeks to add to the existing literature in two distinct ways. First, it aims to provide an alternative theoretical framework. Current research tends to conceptualise norm diffusion as linear, non-dynamic and top-down. Such approaches not only miss the contested nature of norm diffusion, but also the manner in which domestic social norms continue to generate processes in parallel to the diffusion process. Second, by focusing empirically on the practices of actors and how practices produce, reproduce and transform certain norms, a more sophisticated picture of the norm diffusion process can be generated. This aims to move away from privileging the study of formal rule compliance and capture the dialectic between formal and informal practice as sites of norm institutionalisation.

My research is funded by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) +3 studentship.


Conference Papers:

  • (2015) ‘How NGOs Influence Government Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Strategy through Formal and Informal Linkage’. Presented at the SeCons conference on Informal practices of capturing economic resources by political elites: exploring party patronage in Kosovo and Serbia

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