Simona’s main research interests focus on public Euroscepticism, politics and religion, Central and Eastern European politics, and corruption and informality.
To date she published two books, contributed to further five, several journal articles, and is working on further two volumes.
She obtained international funded research grants (totalling 1,490,600 Euros), and is chief editor of Political Research Exchange (PRX), the first ECPR open access journal, promoting innovation and debate across the breadth of political science.
She also holds several teaching awards, from students at the University of Nottingham, Loughborough University and the University of Leicester, as Best Personal Tutor, Best Lecturer, Best Support Staff, Best Practice in Inclusive Learning and Teaching, and Best Implementer of Students’ Feedback.
She has held visiting positions at Unitelma La Sapienza in Rome (2014-15), University of Sussex (2015-16), London School of Economics (2017), University of Zagreb (2018), Carlos III, in Madrid (2019), she has been awarded an International Chair at ULB (2020-22), and she is a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Bruges campus).
Below her previous appointments:
- Acting Head of School, University of Leicester (July 2018-January 2019);
- Deputy Head of School, University of Leicester (April 2017-August 2019);
- Associate Professor, University of Leicester (September 2016-June 2020);
- Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Leicester (April–September 2016);
- Associate Professor, 14/C3, by direct appointment of an Italian citizen currently working abroad, Scuola di Studi Internazionale and the Dipartimento di Sociologia e Ricerca Sociale, University of Trento (art. 15 comma 6, D.R.n.563, 29.10.2013), January 2016, declined;
- Lecturer in Politics, University of Leicester (May 2012-April 2016);
- Lecturer in Politics, Loughborough University (September 2010-May 2012);
- Teaching Fellow, University of Nottingham (September 2008-August 2010);
- Research Associate, Cardiff University (April-September 2008);
- Graduate Associate Tutor, Sussex European Institute, University of Sussex (January 2005-June 2007).
Simona has been guest lecturer for the Politics Summer School jointly organized by Canterbury Christ Church University and the Centre International de Formation Européen; for the MYEULINK project at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus; and the MA in European Studies, at the Università of Siena.
University roles and responsibilities
- Convener, Foundation Year
In the media
Simona’s main research interests focus on the contested domestic politics of EU integration. With her doctoral research, she addressed the question on how attitudes change before and after accession. This has been published with Palgrave, in 2013, and has later developed on how Euroscepticism changes, and the role of the media, in a new book, edited with Manuela Caiani, Euroscepticism, Democracy and the Media (Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology) and released in 2017. More recently Simona has contributed to the Routledge book on Euroscepticism as a Transnational and Pan-European Phenomenon, the Routledge Handbook of Euroscepticism, an ECPR volume on the impact of populism on party systems, and articles with a focus on Brexit, democracy, discontent and populism, religion and politics, informality and corruption, and transnational Euroscepticism.
Grants and Honours (selected):
Up to this academic year, I have obtained, as both PI and Co-I, an overall amount, of about 1,490,600 Euros from funded research grants.
2020-21: Chaire Internationale”, ULB in Brussels, 2019/20 academic year (with a - up to- 2,350 Euros grant). Project on Euroscepticism (June 2021).
2017-2020: (Invited) COST member, ProSEPS (Professionalisation and Social Impact of European Political Science) COST Action CA15207, led by the University of Bologna (Italy)
Awarded (and closed):
2019: ‘Euroscepticism, Emotions and the Everyday (EMOTIVE)’, College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, University of Leicester, £ 4,260.00 (11 March-31 July 2019).
2018: ‘Euroscepticism and emotion in contemporary contentious politics – A study on Europe as the Other in post-2016 referendum Britain’, School of History, Politics and International Relations Research Fund, University of Leicester, £1,110.00 (June-July 2018).
2018: ‘AlterDem: Alternative Democratic actors in the Western Balkans’, College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, University of Leicester, £ 3,490.00 (8-21 July 2018).
2017: Research Development Partnership Fund to organize a workshop and strengthen research networks (within and beyond the UACES CRN ‘Europe and the Everyday: Grassroots, EU and the Politics of Crisis’) in Southeastern Europe. Workshop organized at the Museum of War Childhood, Sarajevo, with the support of the School of Technology, on Europe and the Everyday, the Politics of Crisis, ‘Democratic ‘façade’ - Re-assessment of the process of Europeanization and democratization in the region’ (7 July 2017) (1,750.00 GBP).
2016: ‘Brexit or Bremain: Britain and the June 2016 European referendum’, with Roberta Guerrina and Theofanis Exadaktylos (University of Surrey) (June-July 2016, 10,000.00 GBP).
2016: UACES Collaborative Research Network, ‘Europe and the Everyday: Grassroots, EU and the Politics of Crisis’, with Jelena Obradović-Wochnik (Aston University) and Soeren Keil (Canterbury Christ Church), 5,000.00 GBP (Start: April 2016, 36 months).
2014: Montalcini Programme Award 2012 (by a Decree of the Italian Ministry for Education, Universities and Research, Prot. 2326, 5 February 2014), International Promotion for Young Researchers to temporarily recruit outstanding post-docs working abroad, research project on public Euroscepticism, ‘Eurosceptic, Euroneutral, Euroenthusiast: Towards a framework of analysis’, 191,273.66 Euro (36 months) (Accepted: February 2014; Declined: August 2014).
2014-2017: ESRC ORA grant, ‘Pathways to Power: The Political Representation of Citizens of Immigrant Origin in Seven European Democracies’, as CoI (UK Team), 720,106.00 GBP (36 months), start date: May 2014.
2013: UACES Small Event Grant, ‘Sacred and Secular: Researching the Role of Religion in Contemporary Europe’, with Dr Ben Clements, 962.00 GBP (Funding the organization of a workshop, 21 June 2013).
2010: PI, Grant Award, SPG Seedcorn Research Fund Award, Loughborough University, on ‘Governance, Corruption and Anti-Corruption Policies: The EU and members states, candidate and third countries’ (November 2011-May 2012) with Dr Ed Brown, School of Geography, Loughborough University, 1,500.00 GBP.
2010-2012: PI, Grant Award J12823, European Commission, DG Justice Grant, Loughborough University CI, PI in UK, ‘VAA for Poles and Lithuanians in the UK’, overall project budget: 331,462.33 Euros (24 months). Project led by the University of Warsaw, with Loughborough University, then University of Leicester, and Mypolitiq (Lithuania).
In the Academic Year 2021/22:
- POL0001 Contemporary Issues in Politics (SEM1)
- POL2033 European Integration and Disintegration (SEM1)
- POL2027 Approaches to Research (contributions) (SEM1)
- POL1018 Evolution of an Integrated Europe (SEM2)
- POL2046 Electoral Systems and Voting Behaviour (co-taught with Dr Roula Nezi) (SEM2)
- POL3061 Dissertation (SEM1 & SEM2)
- POL3067 Engendering World Politics (contributions, SEM2)
At the College of Europe (in Bruges): Euroscepticism, Contested Politics, and Emotions
Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) Advance HE, June 2021
Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), June 2016
Teaching Awards & Administrative Grants:
- Nominated as Best Personal Tutor, Best Lecturer, Best Support Staff, Best practice in inclusive learning and teaching, “Simona Guerra has been the best lecturer for any module I have taken over the course of my degree. She was continuously positive and excited about what she was discussing and this rubbed off on all the students taking the course. She would always respond very quickly to any inquiries or questions sent to her by email at any point during the week with extremely valuable and helpful responses. It is hard to put to words, not only how good she was as a lecturer, but how positive and pleasant she is as a person. I wish her all the best.” (2018/19);
- Overall winner of the ‘Best Implementer of Student Feedback’ Award, University of Leicester Students’ Union, August 2018;
- Nominated for the Discovery Excellence Award, Category: Inspiring Leader, University of Leicester, July 2018;
- Nominated for the Award as Best Lecturer, Best practice in inclusive Learning & Teaching, and Best implementer of student feedback, University of Leicester Students’ Union, May 2018;
- Teaching Research Grant: ‘Enhancing Student Learning Experience: Assessment & Feedback, and Skills Confidence’, College of Social Science, Arts and Humanities Teaching Development Fund 2016-17 (2,780.00 GBP, January-July 2017);
- ‘Alumni Mentoring Scheme’ Project, awarded and funded by the Career Development Service and the College of Social Science, £ 14,520.00 (September-October 2013 and January-May 2014);
- Superstar Teaching Award, University of Leicester Students’ Union, July 2013;
- Short-listed as best lecturer of the year, ‘Loughborough Experience Awards 2012’, Loughborough University, May 2012;
- Loughborough University PHIR Students Society Award, Memorable Mention, 2011-2012;
- The University of Nottingham Politics Society 2009/2010 Award for Best Module in its year to Introduction to European Politics, and to the convener and teacher, June 2010.
Euroscepticism has become more and more embedded both at the EU and national levels (Usherwood et al. 2013) and persistent across domestic debates (Usherwood and Startin 2013). This study presents an in-depth analysis of contemporary narratives of Euroscepticism. It first introduces its question related to understanding public Euroscepticism, following the British EU referendum campaign and outcome, to then present the established literature, and the analysis of the British case study. A survey run in Britain in May 2019 shows that, as already noted by Oliver Daddow (2006, 2011), Euroscepticism is very much identifiable in the traditional narratives of Europe as the Other. Context accountability (Daddow 2006) is still cause for concern in Britain and by assuming a more positive view of a European Britain (Daddow 2006) does not make the debate more informed. Images, narratives and specific issues to reform the Eurosceptic toolbox into a more neutral, but informative, instrument could be applied at the grassroots level, as the post-referendum demonstrations and manifestations have shown. British citizens are reclaiming their own European citizenship, and deconstructing existing Euromyths can be a first small step forward.
Through the analysis of the crisis, and its impact on European identity and on politics and party systems, this review provides three contributions. First, the persistence of crisis throughout the history of European integration is explained as a significant factor strengthening the EU and triggering the emergence of the social construction of embedded narratives. These tensions deal with identity, culture and attitudes towards the EU, but also with the EU at the political level and the role of the EU as global actor. This leads to the second debate, with a focus on the different impact the crisis has had, by examining the case of the United Kingdom, Poland and Germany. The crisis indicates the salience of the national contexts, institutions, actors and narratives, shaping the responses, while the domestic experiences, towards the responses themselves, stress divergences and differences across member states. Third, the focus on Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, and their party system, addresses the possible prolonged long-lasting crisis, characterizing the Southern member states. As Jean Monnet wrote, it is not the institutions that create the EU, but the people who shape the institutions. Further research can address how the EU is differently represented, experienced and articulated.
The European Union referendum was supposed to be a significant moment for political engagement and ownership in the UK. This article looks at how the two official European Union referendum campaigns (Vote Leave and Remain) framed discussions about the UK’s membership of the European Union, as well as the impact of the campaign on women’s political activation. Using data from a survey questionnaire conducted two weeks after the European Union referendum (in July 2016), we analyse women’s sense of political efficacy and engagement with European politics. We project those findings on a frame analysis, where we assess the footprint of each campaign in terms of issue coverage and the salience of gender as a campaign issue. Our findings shed light on the way in which issue framing and confidence affect the quality of political engagement among ‘weak publics’.
This volume focuses on the relationship between the media and European democracy, as important factors of EU legitimacy. The contributors show how the media play a crucial role in making European governance accountable, and how it can act as an intermediate link between citizens and their elected and unelected representatives.
Populism has gained new momentum in Southern Europe during the financial crisis. Germany’s role as top creditor fueled anger toward traditional political elites in Greece, whereas Podemos exploited the same crisis in Spain to “generate discursively a popular identity that [could] be politicized.” Drawing upon Derrida’s aporetic notion of hospitality, the article argues that left-wing populism in Greece and Spain projects an antagonistic Other. This Other, both threatening and welcomed at the home of the people, oscillates ambiguously between images of the EU and corrupted national political elites. To support this argument, our narrative proceeds with comparative discourse analysis, looking at speeches of political leaders in the run-up of elections in the two countries.
The public image of the European Union (EU) has met increasingly negative evaluations since the economic and financial crisis hit its peak. Although opposition towards the EU has been pitched as a temporary phenomenon, it has now become a distinctive characteristic of European integration, described as ‘embedded’. Recent analyses on citizens’ attitudes towards the EU underline a rational utilitarian dimension, stressing that EU attachment is affected by future life expectations. Are rationalist perspectives the only possible explanation behind the rise of Euroscepticism, though? This article offers an alternative approach, by using discourse analysis, and examines how emotions, as embedded in Eurosceptic discursive frames and practices, may affect attitudes towards the EU. We argue that an analysis of citizens’ opposition through emotions when the salience of the EU increases can show how a Eurosceptic emotion-laden public discourse may become prominent at the domestic level.
This article examines the 2016 British EU referendum and the domestic debates through the citizens’ voices in the media, specifically on the emotions and narratives, on The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Express, the week before the referendum. British citizens felt, in their words, “bullied because of [their] political correctness” and pointed their anger and dissatisfaction against the EU (and Merkel’s) “obsession for open borders”. The analysis underlines that these emotions and narratives, combining immigration and sovereignty, have remained embedded in the post-Brexit days, and go back not just to Billig’s banal nationalism (1995), but show that voting Leave represented respect towards true British values, the “core country” as conceptualised by Taggart (2000). Powellism (Hampshire 2018) and Wright’s “encroanchment” of Englishness (2017), and the analysis on the immigration narrative explain how anti-immigration and sovereignty discourse is persisting and is influencing, more broadly, the social and political relation of Britain with Europe.
While research tends to explore questions of power and leadership at the national level, populism in Europe has moved beyond national borders, with an increasing number of transnational movements and organizations. This article investigates the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25) and its leadership’s main speeches. Informed by both discourse theory and Michel Foucault’s work on parrhesia (veridiction), the analysis draws on readings of transnational Euroalternativism and populism, pointing out the conflicting logic of bringing them together at the transnational level. Our findings thus stress the increasing politicization of European integration as an opportunity to mobilize transnational activities, which are based on the populist ‘people vs. the elites’ dichotomy and against Brussels’ unaccountable elites (see FitzGibbon & Guerra, 2019), while indicating the limits of leadership in a populist transnational movement (de Cleen, Moffitt, Panayotu, & Stavrakakis, 2019; Marzolini & Souvlis, 2016).
Peter Mair argued that the lack of an institutional framework that facilitates the contestation over European politics makes European integration politics a “zero-sum game”. Yet, in the time following this statement the dynamism of Euroscepticism has allowed it to evolve its strategy beyond national contestation of the EU into a ‘transnational European political space’ (FitzGibbon et al. 2016). The centralisation of economic and financial supervision in response to the ‘Eurocrisis’ has provided Eurosceptics with the opportunity for structuring a new form of pan-European contestation that has adapted to these new policy realities. Understanding this evolution of Eurosceptic strategy helps, in part, to explain why a nativist politician, Matteo Salvini, is now calling for a pan-Eurosceptic alliance. This development gives rise to important questions; principally can this form of transnational contestation be described as Euroscepticism? And, if so, what type? We argue that the recent 2019 EP elections demonstrate opposing (successful) transnational Eurosceptic collaborations: on the right, opposing EU integration on the political and economic side, protecting national sovereignty, in particular with regard to the immigration agenda; and on the left, adopting a Euro-alternative agenda, pointing to accountability, transparency, legitimacy, democracy, the role of the ECB, and a border-free Europe. This is a significant development as the EP has long been the arena in which the ‘zeitgeist’ of Euroscepticism has manifested itself and the surface of new forms of contestation (Caiani and Guerra 2017) towards the EU.
During the 1990s and the 2000s, Spain, Italy and Greece experienced a considerable growth of immigration. In just two decades, the immigrant population has multiplied more than fivefold in all three countries and by the end of the 2000s, residents of immigrant origin already accounted for 7 per cent of the overall population in Italy, 8 per cent in Greece and 13 per cent in Spain, respectively. This accelerated demographic change has put pressure on the democratic representative system of these countries, with large numbers of new residents and new citizens wishing to have a voice in the direction of collective affairs. Yet, their possibilities of securing political representation might have been constrained not only by the institutional and partisan setting in these “new” countries of immigration in Europe, but also by the fact that the public opinion has become increasingly concerned about immigration and immigrants’ integration in all three cases. As we will show, the levels of descriptive representation of citizens of immigrant origin (CIOs) are still very reduced and quite distant to those found in other European countries, thus pointing to a common ‘South European’ pattern. The paper examines how the above-mentioned institutional and societal factors have affected parties’ strategies in relation to the incorporation of CIOs into elected office and how issues relating to timing, the size of the CIO electorate (as opposed to the CIO resident population), and party competition dynamics might help us understand the descriptive representation gaps. The paper further explores their substantive political representation, by systematically comparing the behaviour of CIO and non-CIO elected representatives in the parliamentary arena in Spain, Italy and Greece.
2013: Central and Eastern European Attitudes in the Face of the Union. A Comparative Perspective, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN-10: 0230279864 | ISBN-13: 978-0230279865.
2017: Euroscepticism, Democracy and the Media. Communicating Europe, Contesting Europe, Basingstoke: Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology (with M. Caiani), ISBN 978-1-137-59642-0.
2013: ‘Confronting Euroscepticism’, Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. 51, No. 1, January (with S. Usherwood and N. Startin).
2020: ‘Veridiction and leadership in transnational populism: The case of DiEM25’, Politics and Governance, Vol. 8, No. 1 (with E. Fanoulis).
2019: ‘Immigration, that’s what everyone’s thinking about …’ The 2016 British EU referendum seen in the eyes of the beholder, Journal of Language and Politics, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp. 651-670.
2018: ‘Gender, Ownership and Engagement during the EU Referendum: Gendered Frames and the reproduction of Binaries’, European Journal of Politics and Gender, Vol. 1, No. 3 (with R. Guerrina and T. Exadaktylos).
2017: ‘Anger and protest: referendum and opposition to the EU in Greece and the UK’, Cambridge Review of International Affairs (co-authored with E. Fanoulis), Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 305-324, Published online: 11 February 2018.
2017: ‘Without losing my religion: The dilemmas of EU integration in Poland’, Culture and Society: Journal of Social Research., Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 52-68.
2016: ‘Distrust Unbound: What next after joining the EU’, The Journal of Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 49, No. 3, pp. 233-241.
2013: ‘Does familiarity breed contempt? Determinants of public support for European integration and opposition to it before and after accession’, Journal of Common Market Studies, Vol. 51, No. 1, pp. 38-50, Special Issue ‘Confronting Euroscepticism’.
2010: ‘Not Just Europeanization, Not Necessarily Populism: Potential factors underlying the mobilization of populism in Ireland and Poland’, Perspectives on European Politics and Society, Vol. 11, No. 3, pp. 273-291 (co-authored with J. FitzGibbon).
2009: ‘The League of Polish Families between East and West, past and present’, The Journal of Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 42, No. 4, pp. 527-549 (co-authored with S. de Lange).
2009: ‘Election or Referendum?: The 2007 Polish Parliamentary Election’, Representation, Vol. 45, No. 1, pp. 75-85 (co-authored with M. Bil).
2020: ’Poland and the EU: The historical roots of resilient forms of Euroscepticism among public Euroenthusiasm’, in M. Gilbert and D. Pasquinucci (eds) The Historical Roots of Euroscepticism, Amsterdam: Brill, European Studies Series.
2018: ‘Civil society and the EU’ in M. Cini and N. Perez-Solorzano (eds.) European Union Politics, Oxford University Press, 6th ed. (co-authored with H.J. Trenz).
2018: ‘Barone’ and ‘Bustarella’, The Encyclopedia of Global Informal Corruption, A. Ledeneva (ed.), London: UCL University Press.
2018: ‘Earthquake or Hurricane? The Rise and Fall of Populist Parties in Poland’, in S.B. Wolinetz and A. Zaslove (eds.) Absorbing the Blow? Populist Parties and their Impact on Party Systems (with F. Casal-Bértoa).
2017: ‘Young people and the EU: It’s about European perspective economic and life expectations’, in N. Startin, S. Usherwood and B. Leruth (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Euroscepticism, Abingdon: Routledge.
2017: El populismo en Polonia', in J. del Palacio, A. Rivero and J. Zarzalejos (eds.) Geografía del populismo: Un viaje por el universo del populismo desde sus orígenes hasta Trump, Ciencía Politica, Madrid: Tecnos (with F. Casal Bértoa).
2017: ‘Eurosceptic voices: beyond party systems, across civil society’, in M. Caiani and S. Guerra (eds.) Euroscepticism, Democracy and The Media. Communicating Europe, Contesting Europe. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan (and Introduction and Conclusion).
2016: ‘Between dialogue and Euroscepticism: an analysis of the religious discourse at the EU level’ in J. FitzGibbon, B. Leruth and N. Startin (eds.) ‘The emergence of a new sphere of opposition: Euroscepticism as a transnational and pan- European phenomenon?’, Abingdon: Routledge.
2015: ‘Public Opinion and the EU’ in M. Cini and N. Perez-Solorzano (eds.) European Union Politics, Oxford University Press, 5th ed. (with L. McLaren, as first author).
2014: ‘Determinants of Support for EU Integration: West & Politics and East & Economy or EU Identity’ in B. Stefanova (ed.) The European Union beyond the Crisis: Evolving Governance, Contested Policies, and Disenchanted Publics, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield (with F. Serricchio).
2020: ‘The politics of the EU as crisis, mobilization and catharsis’, Comparative European Politics, DOI: 10.1057/s41295-020-00217-2
2020: Brexit: The EU27’s momentary Lapse of Unity, Political Insight, June.
2020: Democratic Backsliding, Poland’s election and COVID-19: What needs to be considered?, LSE Europp blog, 24th April.
2020: Between safety and surveillance, Controcorrente, SGOC COVID19 Blog, 5th April.
2019: ‘More in common: the emotional experience of Brexit in the eyes of generations’, LSE Brexit blog, 3 October (available here).
2019: ‘Siamo tutti euroscettici? Non esattamente. Ecco perché’, La Repubblica and Society of Electoral Studies (Società Italiana di Studi Politici), 24 April (available here).
2019: ‘The Affective Understanding of Post-Brexit European Integration’, DCU Brexit Institute, 20 February (available here).
2018: ‘What Euroscepticism looks like in Central and Eastern Europe’, LSE Brexit blog, 4 January (available here).
2017: ‘Akademička, ktorá skúma euroskepsu: Potrebujeme, aby ľudia Európu zažili’, Euroactiv Slovakia, 27 December (available here).
2017: ‘What is public Euroscepticism?’, Think, University of Leicester, 20 December (available here).
2017: ‘Euroscepticism has taken hold across the EU - but it has many different roots’, LSE Brexit blog, 19 July (available here).
2017: ‘Post-Referendum Britain: Hopeful or Uncertain?’, (with T. Exadaktylos and R. Guerrina), The Policy Space, University of Canberra and Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, 10 April (available here).
2016: ‘What Europe must do...’, The Conversation, 27 June.
2016: ‘Academics bring expertise to Brexit debate’, 23 May.
2016: ‘The Polish Catholic Church has become intertwined with Euroscepticism and the promotion of conservative “national values”’, The Democratic Audit UK, 28 April and LSE EUROPP blog, 2 May.
2016: ‘Europe wades into debate over Poland's constitutional crisis’, The Conversation, 27 January (with F. Casal Bértoa).
2015: ‘The year in elections. Poland: right turn’, The Conversation, 1 January (with F. Casal Bértoa).
2015: ‘How Poland's political landscape was redrawn overnight’, The Conversation, 27 October (with F. Casal Bértoa).
2015: ‘Surprise election loss for Polish president spells trouble for governing party’, The Conversation, 26 May.
2014: ‘Politicians fiddling while Rome burns?’, The Conversation’, 10 December.
2014: ‘Angry Young Europeans?: Croatian Attitudes towards the EU in comparative perspective’, The European Parties Elections and Referendums Network (EPERN) blog.