Eline Severs

Plein 5 - Room 2.67
Office Hours: 
by appointment
+32 (0)2 614.81.06

Eline Severs is an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science, Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She conducts research on representative democracy within the framework of the VUB Strategic Research Programme 'Evaluating Democratic Governance in Europe' (EDGE). She is also an affiliated member of RHEA, the VUB Centre of Expertise on Gender, Diversity, and Intersectionality.

Eline conducts research on political representation. Her current research projects centre on (i) the legitimacy of representative democracies and (ii) social group representation:

  • Her research on the legitimacy of representative democracies seeks to shed light on the meaning of the so-called crisis of representation in contemporary democracies. Abandoning prior conceptions of what constitutes legitimacy, she studies (through interviews and focus groups) how elected representatives and citizens give meaning to their expectations toward and disappointments with representative democracy.
  • Her recent research on social group representation aims to clarify which representatives are preferable over others. As an entry point into this puzzle, she studies discourses of 'betrayal' in ethnic minority representation and analyses the ways in which ethnic minority representatives present themselves and are being represented within the press. She compares these findings against representatives' activities in parliament. She combines these empirical findings with theoretical analysis of the nature of (democratic) representation.

Eline holds a PhD degree in Political Science from the University of Antwerp (2012). From 2012 till 2015, she combined her post-doctoral research with the scientific coordination of the Policy Research Centre on Equality Policies (PRCEP) ('Steunpunt Gelijkekansen'). The PRCEP was an inter-university research consortium funded by the Flemish Government Departments on Science and Equal Opportunities (2012-2015). It conducted policy-preporatory research for the Flemish Minister of Equal Opportunities. Within the framework of the PRCEP, Eline organised the 3rd 'Equal is not Enough: Exploring novel theoretical and empirical approaches toward studying (in)equalities' (2015).

Eline's PhD was short-listed for the Annual prize for best PhD in political science ('Jaarprijs Politicologie') jointly extended by the Dutch and Belgian associations of Political Science. She received a Best Paper Award for a paper presented at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. The award was extended jointly by the APSA Section on 'Women and Politics' and the APSA Section on 'Foundations of Political Theory'.

She is currently the Treasurer of the ECPR Standing Group of Gender and Politics. She is also an executive member of the Belgian association of Political Science ('Vereniging voor Politieke Wetenschappen'). She has been a member of the award jury for the best PhD in Political Science ('Jaarprijs Politicologie') and chaired the award jury in 2015-2016.


Eline currently teaches 'History of Political Thought' ('Geschiedenis van het Politieke Denken') in the Bachelor programmes of Social and Political Science and 'European History' in the Bachelor programme Social Sciences.
She also supervises bachelor and master theses on democratic theory, constitutionalism, civil rights, political representation, social group representation and issues related to gender, diversity and intersectionality.
She also has experience in teaching on 'Power and Gender in Global Politics' (University of Amsterdam, 2014) and 'Political representation and public opinion' (University of Antwerp, 2010-2013). In 2011-2012, she supervised (together with Petra Meier) a thrid bachelor research seminar on 'How politicians conceive of political representation'

Research Themes


A full list of publications can be found here.
A selection of recent publications:
Severs, E., Celis, K., and Erzeel, S. (2016) 'Power, privilege and disadvantage: intersectionality theory and representation', Politics 36(4), 346-354.
Severs, E. (2016) 'Feminisme en constructivisme: een "catch 22"?' Sociologos 37(1), 45- 57.
Severs, E. (2015) 'The limits of categorical refurbishment: Ethnicisation and racialisation in the Flemish debate on how to denote "migrant" populations', DIGEST - Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies, 2(3-4), 127-142.
Severs, E., Celis, K., and Meier, P. (2015) 'The indirectness of political representation: a blessing or a concern? A study of the conceptions of members of the Flemish regional parliament', Parliamentary Affairs, 68(3), 616-637.
Severs, E., Celis, K., and Meier, P. (2013) 'De substantiële vertegenwoordiging van Moslimvrouwen. Vertegenwoordigende claims en responsiviteit in het Vlaamse hoofddoekendebat,' Res Publica, 55(4), 429-458.
Severs, E., Celis, K, and Meier, P. (2013) 'Representative claims and beyond. A study of the inclusion of Muslim women's judgment in the Flemish headscarf debate', Politics, Groups, and Identities, 1(3), 433-450.
Severs, E. (2012) 'Substantive representation through a claims-making lens: A strategy for the identification and analysis of substantive claims,' Representation, 48(2), 169-182.
Severs, E. (2010) 'Representation as claims-making: Quid responsiveness?' Representation, 46(4), 411-423.