Postdoctoral Researcher, two-year position.


Postdoctoral Researcher, two-year position <>

Deadline: 25 May 2021, 23:59:59 hrs


International research project, funded by Volkswagen Foundation Project partners: Aarhus, Berlin, Cracow, Edinburgh, London

“The (trans)formation of a European sense of solidarity: Visceral politics and social belonging in a comparative European context”

Project head

Prof. Dr. Michael Pauen, <>


Tasks / responsibilites

Research in the field of philosophy of mind, political philosophy; collaboration on a research project of the chair on the topic of “The (trans)formation of a European sense of solidarity: Visceral politics and social belonging in a comparative European context”; opportunity for own academic qualification (expansion of subject breadth in the field of philosophy of mind and political philosophy).



Completed academic studies and doctorate in philosophy, cognitive science or another relevant subject; substantial knowledge in philosophy of mind and related empirical subjects, knowledge in political philosophy is desirable; experience in interdisciplinary cooperation; very good written and spoken English; independent and responsible work; experience in supervising students and doctoral candidates desirable.


Full application details


Contact for queries

Prof. Dr. Michael Pauen, <>


Summary of the overall project

“The (trans)formation of a European sense of solidarity: Visceral politics and social belonging in a comparative European context”

In a complex world in which many feel a profound sense of alienation, how we create and maintain the social ties that bind us is an important question with profound consequences for national and international policy-makers. Generating a sense of solidarity in a cohesive community is central to the challenges facing Europe.

We aim to contribute a new understanding of the role that emotions and visceral politics play in driving a sense of collective belonging in Europe. We will identify factors that impede this sense of belonging, and drive an increased level of polarization and aggressiveness in the political debate and the public sphere. Finally, we will develop and test new signifiers that might be employed to generate the spirit of social solidarity needed to facilitate (improve or bring back) societal cohesion in the Europe going forward. For example, through the deployment of shared narratives, the harnessing of visceral responses to textual communication and visual symbols in traditional and new social media, through the formation of shared goals, or through the generation of an increased sense of security in the EU as a community.

We will develop a comparative model that will address the following questions:

– How do the challenges faced by the European Union impact in practice on the emotional responses of its citizens to the EU?

– How does this emotional impact vary according to social, political and territorial context?

– How do these emotional responses impact on a sense societal cohesion and social belonging in Europe?

– What actions/narratives/symbols most effectively harness visceral emotional responses and help evoke a sense of solidarity, security and cohesion amongst European citizens?

Work Package 1: “Top-down framing” (2021-23, Pauen, lead)

How does the official top-down framing of the EU resonate at an emotional level with its citizens in different social, political, economic, and territorial contexts? Does it try to address the concerns, fears of EU citizens and to what extent does it succeed in doing so? Is it able to counteract resentment? Are there additional strategies and framings that could be made use of? Is it possible to describe and explain abstract and highly complex treaties, negotiations, and legal frameworks that makes the underlying goals and objectives intuitively accessible without distorting them?

To produce a nuanced analysis of the top-down official framing of the EU in response to the challenges it is facing, we will analyze and categorize the nature and resonance of the EU’s emotional messaging from historico-philosophical, cultural anthropological, psychological and political communication perspectives (Pauen 2019). We will  determine whether alternative communication strategies succeed in addressing citizens’ concerns, fears and counteracting resentments. Using historical analysis, discourse analysis, manual and automated content analysis in collaboration with WP2, we will produce a classificatory framework that as well as being valuable in itself, can be tested and normed and will guide our subsequent selection of narratives and symbols for experimental testing.

Project partners

University of Aarhus (School of Culture and Society, Interacting Minds Centre), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Institut für Philosophie and Berlin School of Mind and Brain), Jagiellonian University, Cracow (Department of Journalism, Media and Communication), University of Edinburgh (NRLabs Neuropolitics Research, School of Social and Political Science), and Royal Holloway University of London  (Department of Psychology).

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