Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

Christos has successfully passed his viva

Research student insight

Christos Marazopoulos

 

Christos Marazopoulos

  • Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies
  • First supervisor: Dr Gian Luca Gardini
  • Second supervisor: Prof Adrian Hyde-Price
  • Research title: Constructing the Western Balkans: Understanding the European Commission's regional approach from a constructivist perspective
 

Christos is currently undertaking research for his PhD that critically engages with the political engineering of post-national spaces in Europe, through a qualitative study of the European Commission’s social representations of Yugoslavia and the Western Balkans.

His interest in this subject matter and in particular his interest in this specific region dates back many years.

The Western Balkans is a region close to my home and I got engaged with its politics from a young age.

The importance of international relations

Christos found that the role of the European Commission in the foreign policy field of the EU had not been studied extensively from an analytical and theoretical perspective. He hopes that the research undertaken for this thesis will improve the understanding of the work of the EU Institutions and how they act in the field of external relations.

My work uses constructivism as the main theoretical tool to understand how external policies emerge by the European Commission.

To date Christos’ research has shown the importance of ideas and values in international relations, in addition to the ever increasing role of international actors such as the EU, and the future trend of regionalisation and institutionalisation around the globe.

My research work so far advances the ideas that the EU has a sui generis nature as an international actor with a unique process of forming foreign policy frameworks; and also that social representations are essential for the study of international politics and more so for the better comprehension of the EU's 'actorness' qualities.

The broad conclusions point to the fact that the EU forms social representations which can provide answers to questions of policy frameworks and policy developments; the European Commission’s actions are not just the outcome of micro-calculations but part of a social context of competing world-views; and, finally, this is why the end-product of the Western Balkans can look more like a messy amalgam rather than a ‘rational design'.

Developing his research project

Having previously studied for a bachelor’s degree in the Department of International and European Studies at the University of Macedonia in Greece, Christos came to the University of Bath to focus on developing his previous knowledge in this area in order to write his thesis.

He found that one of the best parts of the PhD was the fieldwork he had undertaken, even though collecting empirical evidence was at times a challenge. This fieldwork included research trips to the European Institutions in Brussels. A welcome surprise for Christos was finding out that the staff in Brussels were very willing to discuss matters with him and to help him network.

I have spent a month every year in Brussels talking to policy-makers, searching the Archives and the European Commission's library and having a close look at how the EU bureaucracy works. It is a great opportunity to observe and record the object of your study, as well as meeting interesting people working in these institutions.

Supporting the postgraduate community

Christos has also engaged with activities in parallel to his studies, such as organising the International Relations & European Politics (IREP) postgraduate group in the Department.

As part of the IREP group, we have managed to hold around thirty events for staff and students in the last few years; with many of these including external guest speakers. This experience has helped me develop skills in organising events and learning how the mechanics of the University work.

Further to his academic involvement in the University, Christos often uses the great sports facilities on campus and has even coached the University’s basketball team for two years.

Summing up both his academic and social life at the University he commented:

I have thoroughly enjoyed researching my PhD and being part of the Department at the University of Bath!

Further information

Find out more about Christos'  research:

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