Home Mental Health & Well-Being University of Auckland Marsden Grant PhD Scholarship in Population Health Public Policy

University of Auckland Marsden Grant PhD Scholarship in Population Health Public Policy

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A PhD scholarship (including fees) is being offered as part of a project investigating ways in which unhealthy commodity industries ((alcohol, tobacco, gambling and food) influence public policy. The project is funded by a three-year researcher-initiated government grant (from the Marsden Fund).

Both PhDs will involve input from other investigators on the project including Professors Kypros Kypris (Newcastle NSW), Jeff Collin (Edinburgh), Jim McCambridge (York, UK) and Boyd Swinburn (Auckland). The project will be based in the School of Population Health at the UOA Tamaki Campus.


Despite the emergence of solid evidence on effective public health interventions and despite the combined efforts of concerned citizens, researchers and community agencies, the outcomes in terms of healthy public policy are by and large disappointing. This applies particularly to the regulation of unhealthy commodities (such as alcohol and fast food) where corporations invest in a variety of strategies aimed at influencing policy makers. A key area of influence-making concerns the way industry actors seek to form relationships of mutual obligation with key government and political actors. They achieve this by setting up a variety of connecting spaces for the purpose of informal friendly person-to- person contact and favour exchange. Examples of such spaces include party conference dinners, corporate boxes, shared committee meetings and appointments with ministers.


To understand the specific mechanisms by which tobacco, alcohol, gambling and unhealthy food and beverage industries create conditions favourable for influencing policy-makers.


This part of the project will involve interviews with key informants who participate in the connecting spaces in which these informal relationships emerge. It will focus on developing a rich analysis of social practices that occur in these spaces.

  • Focus – Detailed interviews with connecting space participants including industry actors, political actors, public relations actors, government officials, non-government actors and others involved such as event organisers.
  • Activities – Organising and conducting interviews, analysing the transcripts and developing an account of relationship formation.
  • Suitable backgrounds in –  Social science or health sciences with a strong
  • Background –  Background in qualitative methods. Interview analysis will require a sophisticated understanding of interpretive methods and a familiarity with theories of power and influence. Familiarity with Official Information Processes and government database systems will be desirable.

The PhD Scholar will work with the rest of the project team which will include regular meetings with the main investigators, two other PhD scholars and a postdoctoral fellow who will coordinate activities.

Value of each scholarship: NZ$27,300 pa plus $7,700 towards compulsory domestic fees and international health insurance (if required). Both international and NZ domestic students are encouraged to indicate their interest.

To indicate interest, email Peter Adams (p.adams@auckland.ac.nz) by Friday, 27 July 2018. Please indicate your reasons for being interested and attach a CV.

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