The Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS) is pleased to announce a competition for research grants on the theme of “Inequality, Mobility and Development in the Arab Region.” This competition is funded by a grant provided to the ACSS by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). These grants will be available to both individual researchers (up to USD $20.000) and teams of researchers (up to USD $50.000) from the Arab region, whether currently resident in or outside the region, and whose research focuses primarily on Arab societies. Grants are intended to support a maximum time-line of 24 months.

The ACSS is a newly established (in 2011) regional non-profit organization, headquartered in Beirut, Lebanon and dedicated to the promotion of the social sciences in the Arab region and globally. For more information, please see

Theme of the Competition

Contrary to many prevailing views at the turn of the millennium, globalization has not led to more equal distribution of economic, political and social resources. Furthermore, political conflict, war and occupation continue to shape the experience of many parts of the world especially the Arab region. Income disparities and inequalities have increased and distributive justice which characterized the post independence regimes has receded and the state has reduced its public welfare role, limiting the scope of public services such as health and education and leaving people to fend for themselves in an increasingly open market. At the same time, patterns of mobility and migration have been significantly changing in response to new push and pull factors as well through the roles of diasporic networks that have acquired new vitality in this global age. Furthermore, these changing economic and social dynamics call for a rethinking of notions and strategies of development in the second decade of the new millennium and in the wake of the social upheaval across the region. It is significant that the on-going revolutions across the Arab region call for social justice as much as political freedom.

This call for proposals aims at canvassing a broad range of experiences and examples from across the different countries and localities of the region. Proposals may focus on any of the three sub-themes of (1) inequality; (2) mobility; (3) development, but the most competitive proposals will be those that examine linkages across at least two of these themes. We also encourage comparative studies that look at more than one country or location in the region. While the focus of the theme is largely contemporary, historical studies that examine these processes over the long term are also encouraged. Quantitative as well as qualitative projects are eligible and mixed-methods, as well as interdisciplinary, approaches are encouraged. Finally, successful proposals will also critically examine whether current social science frameworks are adequate to conceptualize and empirically study these issues in the Arab region and suggest new approaches and methodologies.


The theme of inequality can be understood broadly to encompass regional inequalities (between states and localities), inter-regional inequalities (the economic and political status of the Arab region in global context) as well as societal inequalities including those based on class, gender, race, and ethno-cultural collective identities. Topics can cover the gamut of indicators of disparities within and between societies, including income, education, health, employment, housing and access to public and private goods. Inequality has become one of the prominent themes in the social sciences of the 21st century and the proposed projects may examine the theme from different angles, for example: issues of measurement and comparison, cultural understandings of social inequality, manifestations of inequality in urban and rural space and so on. In addition, current upheavals in the Arab region point to the urgency of analyzing the relationship between inequality and social movements.


Mobility is broadly used here to refer to different types of movement, both social and physical. Social mobility is a concept that has long been associated with education and employment opportunities. However, an increasing number of studies have shown that in practice, education and employment institutions may reinforce rather than dissolve social inequalities and/or produce new inequalities. This theme particularly lends itself to an examination of the relationship between physical and social mobility, especially among youth seeking to escape increasing inequality at home and the failing dreams for social mobility. Migration was well studied in the period of the 1960s - 1980s in the Arab region, whether in terms of rural/ urban migration, or migration to the oil-producing countries. However it has fallen into relative neglect in recent decades. While advances have been made in the study of transnational migration and in the study of Arab communities in Europe, the U.S. and Australia, these are often not linked back to the dynamics in the home countries and to the newly emerging ‘push factors’. Likewise, migration within the region and migration into the region (e.g. domestic worker migration) are generally understudied.


This theme takes up the impact of prescriptive concepts and planning associated with the powerful “development industry” on Arab societies in their national, regional and international contexts. Despite the proliferation of literature on development plans, visions and projects in the Arab region, this field of study lacks convincing frameworks and compelling arguments especially concerning the specificity and/or comparability of the region and countries within it. This theme especially raises the important issue of the complex sources and agents that produce prevailing notions of modernity and development as well as ‘solutions’ to issues that are seen as symptomatic of underdevelopment. In other words, the theme requires an examination of the relationship between international organizations, states, NGOs and academia in producing powerful discourses and practices (such as those encapsulated by the term “neoliberalism”) with immense impact on peoples’ lives. Proposed projects could focus on actors and agents engaged in producing such discourses and practices in particular localities, or could focus on regional dynamics, including the changing economies of the oil-producing countries, or could take up particular “sectors” and social groups that constitute a focus of development projects, such as poverty, youth, women, education, public sector reform, corruption, governance and so on. As with the other themes, successful proposals will engage with these issues through a critical perspective, evaluating the literature and prevailing concepts as well as examining specific case-studies and examples.

Eligibility Guidelines

Nationality and residence:

* Researchers from, and currently resident in, an Arab country.

* Researchers originally from an Arab country who reside outside the Arab region.

* Individuals and teams: the competition is open to both individual researchers and to teams of researchers. We encourage collaborative research, especially teams composed of researchers residing in and out of the region.

Educational Degree:

* Individual researchers in the early stages of their professional post PhD careers are especially encouraged to apply. Individuals currently doing their PhD research or writing up their dissertations are also eligible.

* In case of collaborative research, the Team principal investigator must hold a PhD degree in a social science field and demonstrate successful research experience. Researchers with a Masters degree only may join research teams as co-investigators, but may not apply individually.

Discipline: any social science field and allied fields. The core social science field includes disciplines such as anthropology, demography, economics, political science, psychology and sociology. Allied disciplines include art, architecture, geography, history, law, literature, linguistics, philosophy and public health and interdisciplinary fields include gender studies, cultural studies, media studies, development studies and urban studies. Interdisciplinary proposals and multidisciplinary collaborative proposals are encouraged.

Project Aims and Outputs

This competition is open to supporting research projects at any stage of their development. Proposals may suggest preliminary, “pilot” phases of a project, or longer-term projects combining fieldwork and analysis, or the write-up of previously concluded research. Projects may be extensions of previous projects that seek to bring in new cases and examples, or of comparative projects extended to include the Arab region. The proposed outputs of the project must be commensurate with the research plans. The output of preliminary research may be a fully developed research proposal, while projects including data analysis and writing up may have dissertations or full-length book manuscripts as outputs. Acceptable outputs include publications (web and print); theses and dissertations, scholarly resources (e.g. websites, curriculum development, bibliographies), visual representations including exhibitions, film and other media.

Submitting a Proposal

Applicants will be required to submit both an online application form and a narrative proposal (including appendices). The online application form will become available on the ACSS website by 15 October 2012, but applicants are encouraged to begin working on the narrative proposal before then given the upcoming submission deadline of November 6, 2012. Completed proposals can be uploaded to the application form at any time once this becomes available and before it is submitted electronically.

Proposal materials can be submitted in Arabic, French, or English. Only fully developed proposals will be examined by the Selection Committee. Final proposals should include all information and details necessary for the selection committee to understand the research ideas and plans. Every proposal should be self contained and not dependent on supporting documents. The final proposal should not exceed 20 typed double-spaced pages in length (12-point font). This 20-page limit does not include the proposal appendices, including the project time-line and curriculum vitae (see below).

Consider the following checklist as you prepare your proposal.


I. The body of the proposal should discuss fully the following issues:

a. The main objectives of the proposed research.

b. The theoretical framework of the proposed research, with sufficient reference to the state of the art, and the possible contributions of the proposed research to the discipline.

c. Literature review, including an evaluation of previous research on the subject and current gaps. The review of the literature should demonstrate applicant’s knowledge of international as well as regional research on the subject and the contribution of the proposed research to the current state of scholarship on the region. Quotations and bibliographic references should be fully documented.

d. The methodology that will be used to investigate the objectives of the research, including methods for data collection and analysis. For field data collection, the researcher's prospects for obtaining necessary permits should be addressed. For secondary analysis, sources of information or data and their accessibility to the investigators should also be identified in the proposal.


II. In addition to the above, the proposal must address the following issues:

e. Significance of the expected results.

f. Plans for the write-up and dissemination of research results.

g. Provisions made for the protection of human subjects and the protection of confidentiality as well as an assessment of the impact of probable findings. These should be discussed in conformity with the ethical guidelines of each discipline.

h. Utilization of existing research facilities at the researcher's institution or other institutions.


III. The proposal must contain the following appendices:

Appendix 1: Project Time-Line. A time-line for the research project should be presented in a maximum of 2 pages (single-spaced), outlining the unfolding of the proposed research in reasonable detail. The research duration can extend up to 24 months in the period between January 2013 and December 2014.

Appendix 2: A curriculum vitae with a list of publications for every investigator.

Online Application

The online application form will be available by 15 October 2012 on the ACSS website:

In addition to uploading the project narrative and appendices described above, applicants will need to provide the following information using the on-line form (ONE application per project):

Project Details (title, 250 word abstract, duration and location(s) of research)

Project History (if relevant) including earlier phases of the project and future expectations as well as collaborators who may not be participating in this phase of the project

Proposed Outputs of the Project which may include publications (web and print); theses and dissertations, scholarly resources (e.g. websites, curriculum development, bibliographies), visual representations including exhibitions, film and other media.

Project Budget Request. The budget should be reflective of the extent of fieldwork and number of researchers and can range up to a maximum of $20,000 USD for individual researchers and $50,000 USD for collaborative team applications. Please refer to this sample form when preparing your budget. Budgets may include: fieldwork expenses (including accommodation away from the home location), travel and transportation related to the research, living expenses, honoraria for short-term consultants providing specific technical advice, and meetings/workshops costs (especially in the case of collaborative, team research), as well as purchase of research equipment, software, books, stationery and other supplies. Budgets may not include: stipends or salary replacements, university/research center overhead, or travel expenses/ registration fees for conferences and workshops. Please see acss webpage for the full list of allowable and unallowable expenses. The budget should clearly indicate whether other sources of funding are already available or have been applied for and which items would be fully or partially covered by other sources. The selection committee and the ACSS staff will review each budget on a case by case basis and the total as well as the detailed awarded budget may not necessarily correspond to the one requested.

Personal and professional details on each researcher (including name, countries of citizenship, contact email, current position/institution, brief 100 word bio, education, language proficiency, employment history, relevant publications).

The names and contact information for two academic references who can attest to the significance and feasibility of the proposed project

Project Requirements

Awarded individuals and teams of researchers are expected to abide by the following project requirements:

Submit interim narrative and financial reports every four months (number of reports will depend on project duration). Financial reports should include the original receipts for all project expenses

Submit final narrative and financial report within 60-days of end of grant term

Produce project related content for the ACSS website

Attend at least two ACSS organized events/workshops. The first is a methodology workshop that would take place in Beirut during the 1st week of March 2013. The second event is to be decided and it aims at providing researchers with the platform to disseminate the project results


15 October 2012: An online application form will be available on the ACSS website

6 November 2012: Final and complete research proposals are due. Only candidates whose proposals are ready for examination by the Selection Committee will be contacted by the Secretariat. Incomplete proposals will not be considered for funding.

14 December 2012: Decisions will be communicated to applicants

22 December 2012: Selected applicants must confirm acceptance of grant funds and submit counter-signed award materials.

2 January 2013: Projects may begin

4-10 March 2013: Methodology Workshop

31 December 2014: Projects end

Selection Committee

A multi-disciplinary selection committee composed of reputable Arab scholars with established research and publication records as well as experience in regional research and teaching will examine and select proposals for funding. The committee selection procedures will respect the standards of academic and ethical judgment and final decisions are based on clear evaluation criteria that include the conceptual clarity, methodological soundness, feasibility and significance of the project.

Applicants, by the fact of submitting the electronic application, are agreeing and without objection to the evaluation and selection results decided by the selection committee and the Arab Council for the Social Sciences.

The ACSS secretariat encourages prospective applicants to get in touch with any questions or queries concerning the proposal process and content.

Questions? Please contact: |For more information about the ACSS visit: