Associate Professor Per Mouritsen honoured for this year's original idea

Independent Research Fund Denmark presents the award for the original research idea of the year to Associate Professor Per Mouritsen from the Department of Political Science at Aarhus BSS. The award was presented on 10 October 2019 by the Minister for Higher Education and Science, Anne Halsboe-Jørgensen, on behalf of the foundation.

Per Mouritsen
Per Mouritsen at the award ceremony on 10 October 2019. Photo: Independent Research Fund Denmark


Per Mouritsen receives the award for his research project:  Outside Citizenship: The Making and Integration of Denizens. He receives the award in recognition of the extraordinarily original idea of the project. Indeed, the project turns integration research upside down. Rather than exploring the consequences of becoming part of Danish society, the researchers aim to explore how the requirements for becoming a Danish citizen affect the people who live in Denmark without citizenship. This is a reverse way of looking at integration compared with previous integration research in Denmark as well as internationally.

More than 500,000 people living in Denmark are not Danish citizens and thus do not enjoy the same rights as the rest of the population. For one thing, they are not allowed to vote in the general election. The question is how the requirements for obtaining Danish citizenship affect their integration and their desire to become Danish citizens.

“Our thesis is that the current citizenship rules do not promote integration and that the rules may even hamper it,” says Per Mouritsen in a press release from Independent Research Fund Denmark.

Unique Danish register data

The Danish register data offers the researchers a unique opportunity to explore the conditions among those who live in Denmark without citizenship. The researchers hope that the data material, which is the only one of its kind in the world, will provide new knowledge to be applied in connection with integration policy and strategy.

Among other things, the researchers will use the Danish register data to explore the specific characteristics of people who live in Denmark without being Danish citizens. This could include questions such as: which groups find it particularly difficult to meet the requirements of citizenship? Which groups might meet the requirements but still refrain from applying? How do the stricter rules on immigration affect this group of people?

“The current debate rests on a foundation of ignorance. We absolutely need this knowledge if we are to engage in a proper debate. It will allow us to understand what it means for integration and thereby the cohesiveness of Danish society that a group a citizens reside permanently in Denmark but are either not eligible or interested in obtaining citizenship,” says project participant Professor Julia Nafzieger from Aarhus BSS in a press release from Independent Research Fund Denmark.

The project is carried out in collaboration with Postdoc Kristian Kriegbaum Jensen from the Department of Political Science at Aalborg University and Professor Julia Nafzieger from the Department of Economics and Business Economics at Aarhus BSS.

“It’s imperative that a project like this be handled by a mix of young and experienced researchers who can supplement each other as they come from different academic backgrounds. In addition, developing the project idea would not have been possible if it hadn’t been for a joint effort,” says Per Mouritsen to and adds:

“It’s great to have a team of researchers collaborating on this topic that in many ways and for a very long time has been extremely relevant for Danish politics and for society as such. That the project has also received this very special award is a great honour.”

The award ceremony took place on 10 October 2019 at the annual research conference of Independent Research Fund Denmark. However already in the spring, the foundation awarded Per Mouritsen a research grant of DKK 6.1 million for his project idea.

Facts: The award consists of an artwork, a diploma and flowers. With the award, Independent Research Fund Denmark aims to pay tribute to original thinking vital for the promotion of Danish research and that demonstrates an extraordinarily high level of originality in terms of topic, approach or method.

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