Agnes Matoga is a PhD candidate at TU Kaiserslautern, Germany. As part of the EU Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie RE-CITY Innovative Training Network, she has joined the Neimed team for two months to learn about local initiatives the team is involved in as well as benefit from the team's expertise while progressing on her PhD work.
The aim of her research is to explore the change in governance structures when cities are confronted with shrinkage as well as understand how and to what extend uncertainties are influencing decision-making for approaching challenges due to shrinkage. Agnes is particularly interested in the development of different governance hierarchies and how some cities manage to loosen rigid structures and others maintain or even foster strong hierarchies.
Scholarship on participation and bottom-up involvement highlights the dichotomy between active citizenship as a voluntary activity and a normative necessity, especially in times of increased austerity. This has proven to be important for democratic accountability in shrinking environments. It remains to be explored whether different types of uncertainties influence decisions on governing shrinkage. For this, Agnes will be using the theories of uncertainty and complexity, two concepts that she argues are of great importance for understanding shrinking cities. In her doctoral thesis she will look at Heerlen as her in-depth case and compare the outcomes with her control cases in Germany.