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Laura Kettel

Laura Kettel


Lansstraße 5-9
14195 Berlin

Laura Kettel is a doctoral candidate in Political Science at the Graduate School of North American Studies of the Freie Universität Berlin. Her Ph.D. project examines municipal policy responses to homelessness in the United States, with an emphasis on the role of intergovernmental policymaking and external pressures on local policy choice. Beyond the dissertation project, research interests include social policy and social control, poverty and inequality, and welfare state development.


October 2019 -

PhD Candidate

Graduate School of North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany



Master’s in North American Studies

Thesis: No Place to Be: The criminalization of homelessness in U.S. cities and municipal variation in punitive policymaking

John-F.-Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany



Direct Exchange Stipend

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada



Bachelor’s in North American Studies
Minor in Political Science

John-F.-Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany


Teaching Assignment MA North American Studies

Seminar title: The Politics of Social Policy and Control

John-F.-Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany


Teaching Assignment MA North American Studies

Seminar title: Social Policy and Poverty in the United States

John-F.-Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany


Teaching Assistant, Understanding North America

Department of Economics

John-F.-Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Municipal Responses to Homelessness under Policy Convergence (Dissertationsprojekt)

Dissertation in Politik

Mentoring Team:
First supervisor: Prof. Christian Lammert
Second supervisor: Prof. Dr. Markus Kienscherf
Third supervisor: Prof. Dr. David Kaufmann

This dissertation project investigates policy respones to homelessness across U.S. municipalities. While the local level is responsible for the provision and anagement of homelessness services, policy choices are shaped by actors at different levels of government. Conceptualizing the municipal level as a site of governance (Horak and Young 2012), this project considers the influence of external pressures, particularly the role of directives and incentives from the national to the municipal level, on the local policy response to homelessness. Using a mixed-methods approach, the likelihood and speed of local policy adoption following policy innovation at the national level is measured while considering internal and external determinants of innovation. To test assumptions about the different policy tools through which the national government may influence local policy making, the process of local policy adoption is modelled for three different instances of policy innovation, each representing a different time period and a different type of policy instrument: the carrot, the stick, and the sermon. This project additionally uses in-depth case studies to understand how individual localities mediate external pressures and how and why cities diverge from or resist federal directives.

The focus on policymaking at the municipal level fills an important gap in the academic literature on homelessness, which thus far neglects the complex policy processes at play and an assessment of patterns of policy responses across the United States. Further, centering the city in investigating the dynamics of policy development and diffusion in multi-level systems of governance contributes insights for a variety of policy fields, and allows for a nuanced understanding of the complexity of policy making at the municipal level and the role of individual actors, local conditions, and intergovernmental pressures in determining policy choice.

Dahlem Research School
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft