Constructing bridges and fostering growth: Interdisciplinary insights into European Union conceptions and perceptions

  • Natalia Chaban
  • Ole Elgström
Keywords: the EU, Ukraine, the EU Global Strategy, Eastern Partnership, conceptual metaphor, role conception, role prescription


This article studies the EU’s role conceptions and projections towards its Eastern Neighbourhood, and Ukraine specifically.  Informed by the novel focus on narratives and emotions in International Relations (IR) theory and in EU foreign policy studies, we propose an innovative interdisciplinary synergy between IR’s role theory [Harnisch et al. 2011; Holsti, 1970] and cognitive linguistics’ conceptual metaphor theory [Lakoff and Johnson 1980]. Using the tool of conceptual metaphor, we systemically explore the EU’s role conception (self-image) as well as its perception and expectations of the Eastern partners (role prescriptions). In doing so, we put forward a new method to systemically analyse cognitive and emotive elements in the EU’s foreign policy roles based on the notion that conceptual metaphors reveal fundamental cognitive and emotional traits central to the roles actors play. Empirically, we analyse the EU Global Strategy (June 2016) and the EU Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit’s Official Memorandum (November 2017), as well as 12 interviews with EU practitioners dealing with Ukraine (conducted in 2017).


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How to Cite
Chaban, N., & Elgström, O. (2018). Constructing bridges and fostering growth: Interdisciplinary insights into European Union conceptions and perceptions. Cognition, Communication, Discourse, (17), 24-36. Retrieved from