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Silvia Naydenova

PhD Candidate

If you wish to contact me please do at either my Warwick email:

or at VUB:



Full CV


I am a Ph.D. Candidate at the Department in Politics and International Studies and a recipient of the EUTOPIA PhD Co-tutelle Program 2021. The program is jointly supervised by the University of Warwick and the Department of Sociology in the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. I hold a Master’s degree in International Politics (awarded with Distinction) from the University of Aberystwyth, where my work focused on the relevance of the human security framework in analyzing narratives of Leave voters’ behavior in the Brexit Referendum. Previously to this, I received my BA in Political Science from Sofia University in Bulgaria.

I am broadly interested in qualitative studies of human insecurity in the context of global governance and globalization. Before joining PAIS Warwick, I worked as a research assistant at the Center for the Study of Democracy and Transparency International in Bulgaria.

Provisional topic:


The ‘one-size-fits-all’ international benchmarks have gained an overarching reputation both as a reliable source of insight into human development and as a social and political instrument of international governance. However, the question remains whether they portray legitimate and truthful to people’s experiences levels of life satisfaction and social security. To explore this matter the project focuses on the country of Bulgaria, to which scholarship has paid little attention, as an example of a range of post-Communist welfare states in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) that have experienced deteriorating social conditions, but at the same time are deemed ‘very developed’ according to global benchmarking standards. Therefore, by exploring the transformative potential of individual-level accounts of life satisfaction in the everyday through unstructured cognitive interviews, this project aims to yield significant original insights into how global benchmarking measures not only marginalize but can actually suppress ‘irrelevant’ social concerns of the citizens of post-Communist states. The main aim is to understand how the practice of global benchmarking, as a tool for domestic regulation, creates an antagonism between (normative) judgments of a state’s welfare performance and people’s everyday perceptions of insecurity, and how this can negatively impact human wellbeing.

My research is supervised by Dr Alexandra Homolar and Prof. Dieter Vandenbroeck of the Free University of Brussels (VUB).

Research interests
  • Human Security
  • Subjective Well-Being
  • Qualitative Research
  • European Union Politics
  • Normative Power
  • CEE States
Awards and scholarships
Conference Presentations:

BISA Workshop: ‘Researching Emotion in IR: A Conversation on Methodologies’. Engaged in dialogue about experiences, techniques, and insights about methodology/method, knowledge-production, reflectivity, and ethics in emotion/affect research. (Attended online) April, 2022.

9th European Workshops in International Studies (EWIS), 6-9 July 2022. Presented paper: 'Global Benchmarking: Contestations from a localised everyday perspective'. Discussant on panel 'Security Discourses and Practices'. (Attended online) July, 2022

EISA 15th Pan-European Conference on International Relations 1-4 September 2022 Presented the following articles at 2 panel events: "Dissemination and contestation of European Union governance norms: A localised perspective" and "Diplomacy by Numbers: Shaping Social and Economic Governance in Post-Communist Europe through Benchmarking"

GLOBE summer school in International Relations - “Path, Context, Crisis”. Presented paper: “Setting the EU Standards for Social Citizenship through Benchmarking: a Regionalised Approach”. Egaging in 5 days of presentations, feedback and roundtables. Attended in person from 29 May - 2 June 2023, Oslo, Norway.

CES (Council for European Studies)’ Twenty-Ninth International Conference of Europeanists, Reyjkjavik, Iceland. Paper accepted "Setting the EU Standards for Social Citizenship through Benchmarking: A Regionalised Approach".

IDEAS24 Conference (15-17 MAY 2024, Brussels, Belgium): IDEAS24 ‘Inequality and the European Union. New frontiers in European Studies’. Presented paper on the topic of: 'The Impact of Numbers: theTransformation of Social Citizenship in Central and Eastern Europe.

Other roles: