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Notable Ph.D. theses defended in 2016

Every year, about 30 Ph.D. theses are defended in the SPS Department. In order to illustrate the range of topics, the department presents a selection of theses chosen among those that are both of very high quality (as certified by the examiners’ reports) and whose findings may be of interest to a wider public. 


Davide Morisi on the influence of information in political campaigns

Davide MorisiDavide Morisi is currently a postdoctoral research assistant at the European University Institute. He defended his thesis and was awarded a Ph.D. in Political and Social Sciences on 4 November 2016. Davide’s research focuses on political behaviour and public opinion, with a specific emphasis on political psychology. In particular, he studies how citizens process information and how campaign messages affect voting behaviour in election and referendum campaigns. While writing his PhD thesis, he spent a period as a visiting student at New York University, working with the research team of Professor John Jost. Before joining the EUI, he gained a Master’s degree in Media policy at the London School of Economics, and a BA and an MA from University of Bologna. Besides his academic experience, Davide has worked as a communication assistant for the Communication Directorate-General of the European Commission, and as a journalist for daily newspapers.

Personal website: www.davidemorisi.com


Morisi, D. (2016): Voting under uncertainty: the effect of information in the campaign for the Scottish independence referendum. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties, 26(3): 354-372

Karremans, J., Malet, G. and Morisi, D. (forthcoming): “A changing political landscape. The Italian transition from a bipolar to a multi-polar party system”. In Hutter, S. and Kriesi, H. (Eds.), Transformative elections? Restructuring the National Political Space in Europe in Times of Multiple Crises.

Morisi, D. (2014): “Shaping voting intentions: an experimental study on the role of information in the Scottish independence referendum”, EUI Working Paper RSCAS 2014/88, 2014

Craufurd Smith, R., Tambini, D., and Morisi, D. (2012): “Regulating media plurality and media power in the 21st century”. Media policy brief, 7. The London School of Economics and Political Science.

Thesis summary


Katharina Meissner on Competing for Economic Power: South America, Southeast Asia, and Commercial Realism in European Union Foreign Policy

Katharina_MeissnerKatharina Meissner is currently Assistant Professor at the Institute for European Integration Research (EIF) at the University of Vienna. She obtained her PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute in June 2016. Katharina Meissner works at the intersection of European Union studies, International Political Economy and International Relations. More specifically, she studies European Union external relations towards world regions in the context of trade negotiations. Before joining the European University Institute, Katharina Meissner completed a Diplom in Political Science at the University of Bamberg, Germany, and obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies with distinction from the University of Otago, New Zealand. 

Personal website: https://me.eui.eu/katharina-luise-meissner



Lachlan McKenzie and Katharina L. Meissner (2016) Human Rights Conditionality in European Union Trade Negotiations: the case of the EU-Singapore FTA. Journal of Common Market Studies. Doi: 10.1111/jcms.12522

Katharina L. Meissner (2016) Democratizing EU External Relations: The European Parliament’s Informal Role in SWIFT, ACTA, and TTIP Negotiations. European Foreign Affairs Review, vol. 21(2): 269-288 

Katharina L. Meissner (2016) A Case of Failed Inter-regionalism? Analysing the EU-ASEAN free trade agreement negotiations. Asia Europe Journal, vol. 14(3): 319-336

Sebastian Krapohl, Katharina L. Meissner and Johannes Muntschick (2014) Regional Powers as Leaders or Rambos? The Ambivalent Behaviour of Brazil and South Africa in Regional Economic Integration. Journal of Common Market Studies, vol. 52(4): 879-895 

Thesis summary

Chiara Comolli on Fertility in Times of Economic Crisis

Chiara ComolliChiara Ludovica Comolli is post-doctoral researcher at SUDA, the Demography unit in the Sociology Department at Stockholm University. She defended her thesis and was awarded a Ph.D. in Political and Social Sciences at the European University Institute in Florence on 27 April 2016. Chiara’s main research focus is fertility behavior in developed countries. In particular, she studies how childbearing responds to various sources of economic and financial uncertainty in the United States and in Europe. Her other research interests cover more broadly changes in family dynamics in western countries and their consequences in terms of inequality. Currently, Chiara participates in the TITA project on Inequalities in Time of Austerity, working on changes in intergenerational mobility and brother correlation in income and class over cohorts in Finland, using Finnish register data. Chiara was born in Italy on 10 December 1984. She did her BA and MSc in Milan at Bocconi University in Economic and Social Sciences.



  • Bernardi, F. and C.L. Comolli, 2016, “Connubium: who marries whom”, in G. Ritzer (ed.), The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, Cambridge: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Comolli, C.L. and F. Bernardi, 2015, “The causal effect of the Great Recession on childlessness of white American women”, IZA Journal of Labor Economics, 4:21.

Thesis summary

Enrique Hernández on Europeans’ Democratic Aspirations and Evaluations

Enrique HernandezEnrique Hernández is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Political Science Department of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. He defended his thesis and was awarded a Ph.D in Political and Social Sciences of the European University Institute in Florence on 21 October 2016. Enrique Hernández’s research interests include electoral behavior, political attitudes, public opinion and political participation. Specifically, he studies the formation and change of political attitudes and their relationship to citizens’ political behavior from a comparative perspective. Before joining the European University Institute Enrique completed a BA and a MA in Political Science at Pompeu Fabra University and a MA at the University of Konstanz. 

Personal website: http://www.enriquehernandez.eu


  • Hernández, E. and M. Ares (2016) Evaluations of the Quality of the Representative Channel and Unequal Participation. Comparative European Politics. doi: 10.1057/cep.2015.45 

  • Hernández, E and H. Kriesi (2016) Turning Your Back on the EU. The Role of Eurosceptic Parties in the 2014 European Parliament Elections. Electoral Studies. 44, 515-524 

  • Hernández, E and H. Kriesi (2016) The Electoral Consequences of the Financial and Economic Crisis in Europe. European Journal of Political Research. 55, 203-224. 

  • Hernández, E (2016) Europeans’ Views of Democracy: the Core Elements of Democracy in: Ferrín, M., and H. Kriesi. (Eds.), How Europeans View and Evaluate Democracy. Oxford University Press. 

Thesis summary

Jerome Roos on the structural power of finance in sovereign debt crises

Jerome Roos

Jerome Roos is a postdoctoral researcher in political economy at the Department of Sociology of the University of Cambridge. He obtained his PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute in May 2016, and is currently working on the book version of his thesis, to be published by a leading American university press. Prior to taking up his PhD position at the EUI, Jerome studied International Political Economy at Sciences Po Paris and the London School of Economics. Beside his academic work, he regularly provides commentary on current affairs for various international media, including BBC World, BBC News and Al Jazeera English. He is also the editor of ROAR Magazine, a quarterly journal of radical democratic politics.

Personal website: http://jeromeroos.com 



  • Leonidas Oikonomakis and Jerome Roos in: Angelovici, Marcos, Pascale Dufour and Héloïse Nez, Street Politics in the Age of Austerity: From the Indignados to Occupy, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.: A Global Movement for Real Democracy? The Resonance of Anti-Austerity Protest from Spain and Greece to Occupy Wall Street.
  • Jerome Roos and Leonidas Oikonomakis in: Della Porta, Donatella and Alice Mattoni (2014), Spreading Protest: Social Movements in Times of Crisis, Colchester: ECPR Press: They Don't Represent Us: The Global Resonance of the Real Democracy Movement from the Indignados to Occupy.

Thesis Summary

Céline Colombo on citizens’ competence in direct democracy

Céline ColomboCéline Colombo is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the Political Science Department, University of Zurich, with a focus on Political Psychology and Behaviour. She defended her thesis and was awarded a Ph.D. in Political and Social Sciences of the European University Institute in Florence on 3 May 2016. Céline Colombo studies citizen competence and political decision-making, mainly in direct democratic settings. More specifically, she is interested in citizens’ political knowledge, motivated reasoning, the functioning of elite-cues versus policy-arguments and deliberation in decision-making, integrative complexity of political thinking, as well as the link between deliberative and direct democracy. Céline Colombo was born in Switzerland and has Swiss and Italian Nationality. She did her BA and MA at the University of Zurich, with a major in Social Psychology and a minor in Political Science. 

Personal website: https://celinecolombo.net/ 


  • Colombo, Céline (2016). Justifications and Citizen Competence in Direct Democracy – A Multilevel Analysis. British Journal of Political Science.
  • Colombo Céline and Kriesi, Hanspeter (forthcoming). Party, Policy – or both? Partisan biased processing of policy arguments in direct democracy. Journal of Elections Public Opinion and Parties.

Thesis Summary


List of Ph.D. theses defended in 2016  


Page last updated on 27 February 2017