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1 Postdoctoral position on the ERC funded project “CITIZEN_IMPACT”

University faculty : Economics, social sciences and business administration
Department : The Research Institute Transitions
Grade : Postdoctoral position
Contract : fixed term contract
Category : scientific personnel
Allocation : External funds


Postdoctoral position in political and social science with a focus on media studies

University of Namur (UNamur)

HORIZON ERC-2022-StG, 101077920

The Research Institute Transitions is pleased to announce a vacancy for one postdoctoral researcher (f/m) in Social and Political Science. The project CITIZEN IMPACT is funded by a European Research Council (ERC) starting grant and coordinated by Vincent Jacquet (F.R.S.-FNRS and UNamur).

Synopsis of the CITIZEN_IMPACT project

To improve and even to save contemporary democracies under huge pressure and attack, a remedy has been attracting a large amount of attention: the strengthening of ordinary citizens’ opportunities to deliberate on and directly participate in politics. In this regard, many citizens’ assemblies (CAs) have been implemented by public authorities, especially since the 2010s. Convened through random selection, these assemblies are diversified groups of citizens that deliberate on a public problem and make policy recommendations. Existing research provides detailed descriptions of the internal dynamics of CAs and shows that most citizens are able to deliberate on complex issues. Nevertheless, they fail to identify and explain their more external impacts.

In the context of the growing appeal for such mechanisms, CITIZEN_IMPACT asks the fundamental question: are CAs mere window dressing or do they lead to transformations in the functioning of the political system? It radically changes the dominant perspective on CAs by taking stock of several decades of research on policy studies, governance and institutional dynamics. It offers a systematic account of whether, how and why CAs matter in contemporary European countries by elaborating a new multidimensional conceptualisation of their impact: direct impact on policies (work package 1), indirect impact on civil society (work package 2) and discursive impact on the public sphere (work package 3). To address these three dimensions, the research design combines different methods to compare macro national trends and to disentangle complex processes. Hence, CITIZEN_IMPACT provides a new horizon to tackle, both in the scientific community and the broader society, the role and contribution of such participatory and deliberative procedures in contemporary representative democracies.

Specific task :

In the CITIZEN_IMPACT project, the postdoctoral researcher will be specifically in charge of the work package 3 (WP3) that addresses the ‘discursive’ impact of CAs on the societal debate on democratic transformation. As with every action undertaken by public authorities, CAs constitute a ‘meaning-making activity’. They are presented and perceived through particular discourses that shape reality in a certain way and that become performative for the wider functioning of the political system. However, this does not mean that actors in the public sphere passively transmit the messages conveyed by public authorities. Many social and political actors can cast doubt on the transformative potential of such assemblies. The project takes this ‘symbolic’ dimension seriously and seeks to compare how CAs shape public discourses on democratic renewals across different political systems.

This WP will be performed through a comparative analysis of the discourses on CAs and their (absence of) effects relying upon two types of documents: (1) coverage in the ‘quality’ print press and ‘tabloids’; and (2) coverage of the digital posts published on Twitter. Through a content analysis, WP3 will analyse who made the reference to CAs and the main frames associated with the CAs. Based on this coding, we will compare the main discourses attached to CAs and how they relate to particular political features and dynamics. This WP will cover 12 European countries showing variation in terms of ‘maturity’ with CAs.


The candidate must hold a PhD in political communication, social science and/or political science. Demonstrating an interest in discourse analysis, media analysis and/or data mining will be an asset.

The candidates must have a strong command of English.

They should also be ready to independently manage a small team of coders to conduct the content analysis.

Additional information

Research environment and working conditions :

The successful candidate will be offered a fully funded position and the opportunity to pursue innovative postdoctoral research with close supervision in an experienced and dynamic project team. The team offers a stimulating working environment in a dynamic and internationally oriented research team. There are also opportunities to take up teaching responsibilities (though this is not required).

The postdoctoral fellow will be employed full-time for a duration of 24 months by the University of Namur (residency in Belgium), starting January 2024.

S/He will be affiliated to the University of Namur (Research Institute Transitions). Her/his monthly salary will be calculated based on the scale established at Namur while travel costs are covered for commuters. Social insurance as well as access to employment benefits are included.


Selection process :

The application deadline is June 9, 2023.

Any inquiries about the project and the position may be sent to : citizen.impact@unamur.be :

Candidates apply by submitting their application to citizen.impact@unamur.be which must include :

• a cover letter,

• a report on past research (2 pages),

• a detailed CV,

• the Ph.D report,

• the name of three referees.