Aurelia Sauerbrei, DPhil student in Population Health at the University of Oxford, has been awarded a one-year Wiener-Anspach fellowship at ULB, where she is pursuing her research on “Artificial intelligence and healthcare: the ethics of using clinical artificial intelligence tools” under the supervision of Prof. Jean-Noël Missa (Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences).

Aurelia recently published in BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making Publication a paper titled “The impact of artificial intelligence on the person-centred, doctor-patient relationship: some problems and solutions”, co-authored with Nina Hallowell, Angeliki Kerasidou, and Federica Lucivero.

Presenting this research, she wrote: “Great hopes are being placed in AI technology to improve all aspects of healthcare. This includes improving the relationship between doctors and patients and making care more people-centred by saving time. However, given the novelty of AI tools in healthcare, there is little concrete evidence. Two ways have been identified to ensure that the use of AI tools has a positive impact on person-centred doctor-patient relationships: (1) using AI tools in an assistive role (2) adapting medical education with a greater emphasis on data science in the curriculum, while maintaining a strong focus on interpersonal skills.” The article is available on the journal’s website.

Thomas Legein, PhD in Political Science (ULB), is currently a Wiener-Anspach Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cambridge, where he is carrying out a research project on “Perception and party dynamics: towards a psychological approach to the causes of party reform”, under the supervision of Dr Lee De Wit (Department of Psychology).

Dr Legein presented two papers at the Politicologenetmaal 2023 conference (1-2 juin, Leuven):

  • Legein, T & Rangoni, S, “The Latest Contortions of the French-Speaking Christian Democratic Party (cdH): Between decline and distress innovations”

This paper focuses on the recent transformation of the Belgian French-speaking Christian Democratic Party (cdH) into a new ‘party movement’ labelled Les Engagé.e.s. We investigate, in particular, the large package of reforms the party implemented in 2022 through a process tracing emphasizing the complex causality underlying them. The case of the cdH is a glaring example of the difficulty of mainstream parties, once oligarchs in stable party systems, to maintain their status in the face of their predicted decline. We combine party elites interviews with media reports and original party documents to inductively explore what can be learned about the mechanisms of such a party transformation conceptualized as the result of a bundle of party reforms. Special attention was given to the question of how party elites perceived particular stimuli in their environment and how they translated them into specific outcomes. The results offer methodological and theoretical insights that go beyond the specific case study explored. The paper demonstrates the usefulness of engaging with party reforms as bundles since it reveals how reforms of different types can be interrelated and how this impacts the bargaining process between key party actors. By dealing with causal complexity, this in-depth case study also emphasises the added value of process tracing as a unique method to produce additional knowledge to understand these sensitive events for political parties.

  • Legein, T, Young, D, & de-Wit L, “Affective Polarization as a New Component of Intra-Party Dynamics: A New Barrier to Party Reform?”

Our democracies have been experiencing a sharp increase in affective polarization in the last decades, impacting their stability via various channels. It can lead to emotional reactivity, dissatisfaction with democracy, lack of cooperation, misperception of political competition, etc. Yet, the literature still needs to examine a key channel through which polarization can undermine the political system: intra-party dynamics. Studies that attempt to detect and measure polarization within parties are limited, and the topic is often merely reduced to factionalism. Yet, intra-party dynamics are known to substantially shape representative and democratic processes through the way they carve parties’ organizational, ideological or personnel dimensions. Interestingly, parties are increasingly led to thoroughly review the political offer they put on the market since the decrease of their legitimacy in public opinion. But achieving party innovations designed to counter that trend requires a consensus among party elites and alignment with citizens’ preferences. The literature has already identified important organizational and psychological barriers to party reforms. But no one has questioned the role of intra-party affective polarization as an additional barrier so far and, by extension, as a potential driver of polarization at the political system level. This paper hence proposes investigating the scale of affective polarization within parties and how it relates to party reforms. Preliminary hypotheses suggest that the symbolic and realistic threat perceived by supporters can generate intergroup hostility and, in turn, the heterogenization of supporters’ attitudes toward their party. The results from a panel survey conducted in the UK, US, and South Africa will not only inform the literature on affective polarization and democratic representation but also extend our understanding of the drivers of party reform.