Centre Welcomes Dr Soetkin Verhaegen as Senior Research Fellow

The KHK would like to welcome Dr Soetkin Verhaegen as our newest Senior Research Fellow. We look forward to productive and enriching collaborations over the next year. Please read on for details about the research project that Soektin will be bringing to the Centre.


Dr Soetkin Verhaegen

Senior Research Fellow, June 2022 – Mai 2023

  • Research Group: Legitimation and Delegitimation in Global Cooperation
  • Affiliation: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University, Netherlands
  • Project at the Centre: Citizens’ Legitimacy Perceptions in the Context of Multilevel Governance


Project Description:

The primary research focus of the project would be the global level in a study that uses survey experiments so as to explain how the way in which Global Governance Institutions (GGIs) are portrayed to people (by the GGI itself, peers, or civil society actors) may affect citizens’ legitimacy beliefs toward those GGIs. It is important to study citizens’ attitudes about GGIs, as competences have not only been moving to different levels and institutions, this is also increasingly contested. Concerns are raised about the risk that moving competences and decision-making to higher governance levels could decrease the legitimacy of policies (and as a result also their effectiveness). These concerns have become especially apparent in three situations: 1) when governance reaches beyond intergovernmental cooperation, 2) when member states’ veto powers are limited, and 3) when decision-making addresses matters of high electoral salience (Føllesdal, 2006; Moravcsik, 2002). In these cases, governance decisions and institutions can draw less strongly upon the perceived legitimacy of its member states among their constituencies, and direct legitimacy is more urgently required. When competences move, concerns about solidarity, identity, fairness, and effectiveness are central. Depending on the perspective of an individual, moving competences to the supra- or subnational level is evaluated as positively or negatively regarding these issues. For these reasons, I study how citizens relate to this (changing) division of competences between a broad range of institutions and levels.

One particular element that warrants further research, is the question how citizens become aware of GGIs and their functioning, and how different sources of communication about GGIs may differently affect citizens’ attitudes about these institutions. Citizens may become aware of GGIs, their functioning and their output through various channels. GGIs themselves invest to varying extents in their public relations towards the broader public, political speeches of member state representatives (e.g. in the context of key meetings of those GGIs) shed more light on the role of GGIs, nonstate actors such as civil society organizations regularly mobilize (often critical voices) regarding GGIs, citizens may discuss GGIs with peers, and the (social) media play an important role in communicating those different messages and views.