ESRC DTP Collaborative Studentship, Aston University


ESRC DTP Collaborative Studentship: Supporting Refugee Creative Entrepreneurship: An Examination of Experiences, Barriers, and Organisational Assistance in Birmingham’s Arts Sector

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: Please refer to the advert text
Hours: Full Time, Part Time
Placed On: 1st February 2024
Closes: 25th February 2024

Aston University and Celebrating Sanctuary

The Midlands Graduate School is an accredited Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). One of 15 such partnerships in the UK, the Midlands Graduate School is a collaboration between the Universities of Warwick, Birmingham, Nottingham, Aston Leicester, Loughborough, De Montfort and Nottingham Trent.

Aston University as part of the Midlands Graduate School is now inviting applications for an ESRC Doctoral Studentship in association with our collaborative partner Celebrating Sanctuary to commence in October 2024.

Project description:

This PhD project will investigate the experiences, barriers, and support needs of refugees engaged in entrepreneurship in Birmingham’s rich cultural sector. It will involve an interdisciplinary supervisory team comprising the expertise of two leading research centres – the Centre for Migration and Forced Displacement (CMFD) and the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME), and Celebrating Sanctuary (CS). By providing new conceptual synthesis and empirical scrutiny of refugees’ links between arts engagement and creative venturing, this project will address critical gaps at the intersection of cultural entrepreneurship, forced migration, and creative industries research.

Extant studies on refugee entrepreneurship largely focus on their experiences, motivations, and challenges in launching and developing businesses (Desai et al., 2021; Ram et al., 2022), with little consideration of the arts sector. Yet research on refugees and the cultural activities suggest engagement with the arts can enable skills development, confidence building, and social connections among refugee communities (Young, 2023). The project will utilise cultural entrepreneurship perspectives to highlight how engagement with arts and heritage provides resources conducive to new venture creation and development, including human, social, and symbolic capital (Lounsbury and Glynn, 2001; Brien et al., 2021). The PhD project will analyse pathways from cultural activities to creative entrepreneurship. The project will also explore how different aspects of one’s identity and social position, such as refugee status and being an entrepreneur, combine to create unique challenges and barriers, deploying the intersectionality theory (Crenshaw, 2017; Dy et al., 2017).

The PhD project will utilise a longitudinal case study methodology drawing on archival, interview, and observational data facilitated by a placement in Year Two with CS. The student will benefit from the guidance of CS staff, their deep knowledge of the cultural sector and their relationships with different refugee communities. The co-produced research will involve the testing of intervention plans which will enable CS to enact ‘refugee creative entrepreneurship’ in practice and evaluate its effectiveness and impact.

Application Process

To be considered for this PhD, please complete the Collaborative Studentship application form available online here. Please upload an anonymised CV and cover letter as part of the online application process. Shortlisted applicants will also be required to provide transcripts and two references.

Application deadline: 25th February 2024

For further information please click here.


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