Two post-doctoral position, 6/8 months, Project “Governing values, governing through values, governed by values? The European Union as a risk polity”, Cevipol-IEE, Université libre de Bruxelles (2019). 15.3.19

This is a call for applications for two full-time post-doctoral positions (6/8 months)on an interdisciplinary project on European politics and values based at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Brussels, Belgium). The researchers will join a team under the supervision of a scientific committee (Ramona Coman, François Foret [spokesperson], François Heinderyckx). Prospective candidates are hereby invited to submit their application as described below. The deadline for submitting applications is the 15thof March, 2019 but earlier applications are strongly encouraged. Successful candidates are expected to start working in Brussels on the 23th of April, 2019 (to be negotiated).


Outline of the project:“Governing values, governing through values, governed by values? The European Union as a risk polity”(ValEUR)


Values at the core of European integration have been widely discussed in recent years due to several major evolutions in EU governance. The enlargements and the constitution-making process were structures of opportunities for claims to define common values susceptible to hold European countries and citizens together and to justify public action. Nevertheless, resistances showed that interpretations of these common values may differ.

References to values may have three incentives. Firstly, it may be a call to identity, memory and communicative resources in a quest for legitimization (governing through values). Secondly, it may come from the necessity to deal with ethical issues calling for normative policy choices (governing values). Thirdly, values may cause legal and political conflicts and challenge established balances of powers and regulation (governed by values). The EU has encountered the three scenarios. In each configuration, "European values" are invoked with different meanings and purposes. The hypothesis is that common patterns can still be found, turning the EU into a "risk polity", a political system where values become a usual part of European politics either as an answer to or a factor creating uncertainties. 

The project aims at a better understanding of the reasons and modalities of the emergence of "European values" on the EU agenda; of the way they create unity or division, circulate and frame different models of political community for Europe. 

Three distinct Work Packagestake on three empirical case studies: morality politics/policies and European values; interactions between “rule of law” and regulation of/by values; debates on European values in the public sphere.


WP1: European values in morality politics 

Morality issues have multiplied on the European agenda. This category includes all policy questions related to the fundamental conception of human being, from conception, birth, sexuality, gender identity, legal and economic status of the human body, to death.  Sometimes also, the category is extended to include identity and memory issues reformulated in normative terms. Different narratives are competing to define what are the “European values” likely to frame ethical choices in all these fields. The purpose is to trace the production and trajectories of these narratives. It is also to assess whether this reference to "European values" in the political, policy and public spheres create patterns of union or dissensus, and what are the effects on the European polity. 


WP2: Interactions between “rule of law” and regulation of/by values

Over the last decades the EU has put the rule of law at the center of its internal and external policies. The aim is to examine when, how and why supranational institutions use the rule of law to legitimize the raison d’être of the EU and its internal and external policies, and how it interacts with values. Applications are especially encouraged on topics which unveil how the “EU governs the rule if law”, “through the rule of law” and “bythe rule of law”. Sociological approaches dealing with the adaptation and resistances to international norms and policies as well as projects on the circulation of values are welcome. 


WP3: European Values and the Public Sphere

The European institutions are actively trying to promote, enhance and support a number of Europe-wide public spheres, or spheres that at least transcend national boundaries and, as such, defuse any build-up of nationalistic tension by identifying and enhancing shared values. An investigation into the external communication of European institutions will focus on explicit and implicit references to European values, with particular attention to policy areas with high levels of uncertainty and/or associated with divisive issues. Given the apparent failure to create any significant European public sphere, alternative scenarios are explored, including one of increased interconnectedness among the resilient national public spheres as a way to enhance the experienceof European values.


The project ValEUR is coming to its end in December 2019. It has already provided several outcomes, including a collective book “European values”. Challenges and opportunities for EU governancepresenting some findings of the research. The last months will be dedicated to the organization of a final conference held in Brussels in Fall 2019; seminars and other outreach activities; ad hocempirical research and wrap-up publications.

Missions of the post-doctoral fellowswill include various contributions to the project, among others: state of the art of the intellectual and political debate; management of the collective research and organization of the related events and communication; fieldwork through interviews, document analysis, etc.; writing and publishing. The fellows will work closely with and under the supervision of the promotors of ValEUR and prepare joint publications. These positions are opportunities for fast-track internationalization and networking.

Some examples of research topicslikely to be developed are: European values challenged by illiberal/non liberal alternatives; tensions between institutional and social values in the EU; relevance, range and limits of conceptual frameworks such as multiple modernities, culture wars, clashes of civilizations, etc. to analyse European politics; comparisons and interactions between values politics in Europe, in the US and in Asia.


Candidates should demonstrate their ability to evolve in a multi-cultural environment; their expertise and/or interest for European politics; their proficiency to work in French and English. Each candidate should explain clearly his/her interest for the project and how and why he/she can contribute to the development of the collective reflection. Experience and achievements in academic research and education in areas relevant to the project will be taken into consideration at the time of selection.  


Working environment and conditions

This multidisciplinary project will take place within three research teams: the Centre d'étude de la vie politique (Cevipol), the main political science research unit of the ULB; the Institute for European Studies (IEE), one of the oldest Jean Monnet Centres of Excellence in Europe; theResearch Centre in Information and Communication (ReSIC), a large gathering of competencies in media sociology, journalism studies, textual analysis and other fields.

Our activities are also inscribed a dynamic international network of collaboration with other universities in Europe, US and Asia. Travels and short research stays may be included in the activities.

The successful candidate will have an office and relevant administrative support at the ULB. Living in Brussels for the period of the mission is required. The working contract will be managed by the university according to Belgian standards. 


Profile of the post-doc researcher:

  • Ph.D. in political science or a directly related field (international relations, sociology…) with a focus on identity and cultural aspects of European integration, ethical matters, religion and politics
  • Proved expertise in European studies at doctoral level
  • Strong record in qualitative research and fieldwork (interviews, observation,       documentary analysis…). Quantitative skills are an extra asset.
  • Experience with working in an international environment
  • Very good command of English and preferably French
  • Ability to work in a team, to meet deadlines and to combine autonomy with respect of guidelines


Legal conditions and status of the post-doctoral position

- According to the regulation of the grant, the postdoctoral researcher must have obtained his/her PhD no more than eight years ago

- S/he must be in “international mobility”, meaning that s/he should not have lived or worked in Belgium for more than 24 months in the last three years.

- The contract will be established for six or eight months (duration open to discussion on this basis, from April 2019 to December 2019 included.

- According to the experience of the candidate, the monthly net income will start from 2200 euros.


How to apply

The candidates will be selected on the basis of the quality of their CV, research achievements, motivation and congruence with the project.  


The following application documents are to be consolidated into one single PDFfile sent by email to:  François Foret (fforet@ulb.ac.be) and Ana Noppen (Ana.Noppen@ulb.ac.be)


  • a one-page motivation letter explaining the candidate’s general interest for the project
  • A short project (5000 characters, spaces included) explaining the possible scientific contribution of the candidate to the collective research, on which working package, with some bibliographical references
  • a curriculum vitae listing all academic qualifications, relevant research experience and previous publications
  • name, affiliation, e-mail and phone number of three referees who can be contacted if necessary
  • a copy of the passport/ID, PhD and/or master diploma


Applications are open until 15thof March, 2019. A phone or face-to-face interview may be organized. The final decision will be taken at the end of March 2019 at the latest. 

The hiring and the required presence in Brussels will be effective on the 23th of April or at the earliest date agreed between the promotors and the candidates.