LINGUIST List 31.1739

Tue May 26 2020

Support: Dutch; French; Spanish; Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics: PhD, University of Louvain

Editor for this issue: Becca Morris <>

Date: 25-May-2020
From: Philippe Hambye <>
Subject: Dutch; French; Spanish; Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics: PhD, University of Louvain, Belgium
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Department: Institut Langage et Communication
Web Address:

Level: PhD

Institution/Organization: University of Louvain

Duties: Research

Specialty Areas: Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics

Required Language(s): Dutch (nld)
                            French (fra)
                            Spanish (spa)


Discourse, populism and democracy. Tracking the uses of populism in media and political discourse (TrUMPo)

1 full-time PhD position, for 4 years (supervisors: B. De Cock and Ph. Hambye). This project will be carried out in the field of discourse analysis. It will focus on the comparison between languages in order to capture in a detailed way how the term “populism” is used, focusing on the linguistic strategies to do so and the specificities of the different languages and countries involved. This PhD will hence involve comparative work on Dutch, French and Spanish data.

Master in linguistics, or master in languages with a strong focus on linguistics, or near fields;
- Min. C1 command of French and Spanish. A good knowledge of Dutch is an asset;
- High level of academic English, both written and spoken, will be considered an asset;
- Good methodological skills both quantitative and qualitative;
- Familiarity with discourse analysis (asset);

Project Description:
In contemporary democracies, there is not a day without the word populism being used in political and media discourse. This has led to the development of a booming literature on populist political parties and politicians. These works have provided rich insights into the origin, the discourse and the impact of such particular actors. Nevertheless, one major aspect of populism remains understudied, namely the use of the term populist itself by political and other actors, which is the subject of a real political struggle (Laclau, 2005). Populism is indeed used by some political actors to disqualify political opponents but also as a positive category/label demonstrating proximity to people’s concerns in order to gain legitimacy (Mazzoleni, 2007).

These uses of populism lead to fierce debates about the role and place of the people in democracies, and about who can pretend to best represent the people. It also raises the question of what is a legitimate (or illegitimate) way to refer to the people in a democracy in the context of a deep democratic malaise worldwide and in particular in Western democracies. Hence, the way the word and the notion of populism are defined, used and circulated is directly related to competing conceptions of democracy. In order to understand how the construction of this category of populism contributes to shaping our collective imagination of democracy, we consider that we need to understand in which contexts and situations this notion is used, which meaning it conveys in actual discursive practices, and how it circulates in the public debate. This is why we will study this topic from a threefold perspective: political science, communication studies and linguistics.

We will compare these discourses in the national public sphere of three countries Belgium, France and Spain, and we will conduct a qualitative and quantitative analysis of data from different forums in which discourses about populism can be held: (i) the parliamentary arena (ii) mass media and (iii) social media platforms.

Interested candidates should send their application to: Catherine Goossens ( before 10 July 2020.

Applications should include in one single pdf file:
- A curriculum vitae,
- A letter of application stating to which PhD you apply,
- A list of courses and academic transcripts,
- An academic publication (if you have one) or your Master's thesis, and
- The contact information (e-mail) of two potential references.

After a first round of selection based on the applications, the short-listed candidates will be interviewed via videoconferencing between 15 and 20 July 2020.

Applications Deadline: 10-Jul-2020

Web Address for Applications:

Contact Information:
        Catherine Goossens

Page Updated: 26-May-2020