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Kamil Bernaerts

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PhD Candidate


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VUB Research Profile





I am a PhD-candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium) and the University of Warwick. I started my PhD in October 2021 under a EUTOPIA PhD Co-tutelle Program. My main institution is the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and my two supervisors are Didier Caluwaerts (VUB) and Renske Doorenspleet (Warwick). Before starting my PhD, I studied the Bachelor of Science in Social Sciences (VUB) and the Master of Science in European and International Governance (VUB). I work and live in Brussels.

Research interests

My research interests are rooted in my worry about polarisation in our democracies. I aim to disentangle the various sorts of polarisation and to empirically explore the causes and mechanisms that underlie polarisation dynamics. In the latter, I specifically focus on the emotions underneath affective polarisation. My research interests, therefore, include (but are not limited to):

  • polarisation;
  • conflict;
  • democracy;
  • affect.


Kamil Bernaerts, Benjamin Blanckaert & Didier Caluwaerts (2022). Institutional design and polarization. Do consensus democracies fare better in fighting polarization than majoritarian democracies? Democratization.