Giuditta Caliendo

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2013/2014
discipline Linguistics and Discourse Analysis
Tenured Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor of English Language and Linguistics University of Naples ‘Federico II’

Research project

Rethinking ‘togetherness’: the discursive construction of identity in the European Union


From its outset, the European Union has devoted considerable efforts to legitimate its governance. In the constant endeavor to connect to its citizens, the EU has attained undeniably impressive achievements, although opposition remains strong and many are still sceptical of its political rationale.

According to the literature in the field of European integration, opposition to the EU cannot be ascribed to one specific cause of discontent and tends to be associated to a general lack of perceived legitimacy among citizens. Legitimacy itself comes across as a ‘fluid’ concept, which varies across time and according to the events that day-by-day make up the history of the European Union. This might explain why the Eurobarometer is, among other data sources, constantly taken into consideration by scholars and analysts to gauge ‘citizens’ mood’ at a given point in time, especially at times when the occurrence of specific circumstances may not particularly fuel democratic support (Turkey’s prospective accession is a case in point).


From a more optimistic perspective, this ‘fluidity’ may also have a positive side to it: by undertaking certain actions and measures, the EU can buttress its legitimacy, or to some extent try to counter public distrust. Some authors believe that the increasing “entitativity”, i.e. the presence and relevance of EU institutions in people’s everyday lives, seems to positively affect their identification with the EU as a political entity. According to political scientist Eriksen (2009), by emphasizing certain actions and priorities, such as solving citizens’ problems, creating a framework of shared values, and empowering citizens by conferring rights upon them, the EU strengthens its legitimacy and constructs its political identity around three functional models: (i) the EU as a problem-solver, (ii) the EU as a provider of common values, (iii) the EU as a provider of rights.


In my study, I argue that the emergence of these three new identity roles is strictly related to processes of discursive change which can be clearly traced in EU texts addressing the general public (informative booklets published on Europa, the EU’s official website). My research draws upon Critical Discourse Analysis to investigate the discursive practices employed by the EU to construct itself as a legitimate supranational entity. This translates into the act of: (i) exploring critically the effectiveness of communication strategies being implemented by the EU in response to the legitimacy crisis; (ii) selecting and scrutinizing those discursive patterns that help confer upon the EU the institutional acceptability required for citizens to identify with it.



Giuditta Caliendo holds a Ph.D. in English for Special Purposes from the University of Naples Federico II, where she is Senior Lecturer and Assistant Professor in English Language and Linguistics. She has been a Fulbright Research Scholar at the University of Washington (EU Center of Excellence) and a visiting PhD fellow at the College of Europe in Warsaw.

Her research interests include political and institutional discourse, legal language, European Union discourse, Discourse Analysis, Critical Discourse Analysis, specialized translation, language policy in international organizations. She has published extensively on the above areas.

Selected publications


The Language of Popularization: Theoretical and Descriptive Models / Die Sprache der Popularisierung: Theoretische und deskriptive Modelle, with G. Bongo (eds), Peter Lang, Bern, 2012.


Genre(s) on the Move. Hybridization and Discourse Change in Specialized Communication, with S.Sarangi & V. Polese (eds), Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane, Napoli, 2011.


‘Consumers at the Heart of Europe: Language Practices and Identity Building Strategies’, with A. Napolitano, in A. Duszak, J. House and L. Kumięga (eds), Globalization, Discourse, Media: In a Critical Perspective / Globalisierung, Diskurse, Medien: eine kritische Perspektive, Warsaw University Press, Warsaw, 2010, pp. 443-486.


‘The Role of the New Media in the Promotion of Identity Frameworks’, in G. Garzone and P. Catenaccio (eds), Identities across Media and Modes: Discursive Perspectives, Peter Lang, Bern, 2009, pp. 163-188.


‘Communicating European Values in Institutional Discourse: a Statistical Model for the Analysis of Citizens’ Perception of the EU’, Glottotheory, International Journal of Theoretical Linguistics, vol. 2, 2009, pp. 19-40.


‘The Human Face of the European Union: A Critical Study’, with E. Magistro, CADAAD Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, 2009, pp. 176-202.


‘Communities, Boundaries and New Neighbours: the Discursive Construction of EU Enlargement’, with A. Napolitano, Journal of Contemporary European Research, vol. 4, no. 4, 2008, pp. 322-345.


‘The Interpretation of Community Documents in the European Court of Justice’, Cahiers du Dictionnaire de Notions Politiques et Sociales des Pays d’Europe Centrale et Orientale: Language, Law, Society, vol. 5-6, 2006, pp. 367-376.




junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Political Science
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Mathematics and Musicology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2014/2015
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Sociology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Literature