Natalia Umansky

Natalia Umansky

PhD candidate in Politics and International Relations

University College Dublin

About me

I am a PhD candidate in the School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe) at University College Dublin. Additionally, I am Lab Manager to The Connected_Politics Lab and research assistant for the EU funded EU Data Laboratory Project.

My PhD thesis “Repost and Like: Securitization Theory in the Digital Age” examines the construction of (in)security frames on Twitter and offers a processual refinement of securitization to understand how security problems emerge online. More broadly, my research focuses on applications of computational social science, including quantitative text analysis, network analysis, and digital trace data to questions in international relations and critical security studies.

Curriculum Vitae


  • International Relations
  • Critical Security Studies
  • Computational Social Science
  • Social Media Communication


Working Papers

  • Repost and Like: Securitization Theory in the Digital Age.

Securitization theory has long aimed to explain how (in)security comes to existence. Yet, limited by the notion that security is articulated in an institutional voice by the elites (Wæver 1995:57), the modern processes of securitization encouraged by the proliferation of social media have been obliterated. By developing a processual refinement that confronts the notion of securitization with network theory, this article explores how securitization manifests itself within social media’s architecture. To substantiate this framework, the study validates and employs a semi-supervised semantic scaling model to categorize over 10 million Twitter messages posted by politicians and governmental institutions, advocates, political influencers, the media, and citizens on Twitter in the months leading up to the 45th G7 summit. First, the classifier is employed to position each tweet on a securitization-desecuritization scale and identify the securitizing moves produced online. Then, a fine-grained temporal analysis of the Twitter messages is developed to explore the underlying securitization processes. The results demonstrate that securitization develops on Twitter by adopting a network structure composed of repeated, mundane, routinized, and banal securitizing acts produced by elite and non-elite actors. Moreover, the study reveals that QTA tools are instrumental in producing reliable indicators of securitization.

  • Now you are speaking my language: Exploring the links between resources, negotiations, and language-specific transparency in the Council of Ministers of the European Union (with James P. Cross).

Transparency in negotiations is thought to facilitate accountability as it provides information to outside observers about how state representatives act during negotiations. In the European Union (EU) context, transparency is complicated by the fact that negotiations take place in a multi-lingual environment. If records are not available in a language that outside observers understand, then they do not enhance accountability practices. Despite the centrality of translation capacity to the assessment of transparency, the current literature ignores this fact. This study examines the determinant of language-specific transparency in the Council of Ministers by combining new data on language-specific record availability with an updated dataset on EU legislative decision-making (DEU III) to address this gap in the literature. We show that transparency has decreased over time due to an increase in the number of official EU languages and a simultaneous cap on the overall budget allocated for record translation. This has led to differences in transparency across languages. We also demonstrate that member-state specific utility outcomes tend not to influence language-specific transparency,but that involvement of the European Parliament does affect transparency in the Council. Our findings speak to the literatures on legislative politics, transparency in decision-making, and democratic oversight at the EU level.

  • Talk the Talk: Exploring conflict in European Central Bank Governing Council speeches using speaker-topic networks (with James P. Cross and Derek Greene).

The Governing Council of the European Central Bank sets ECB policy and communicates policy decisions to other EU institutions, the markets, and the general public. Despite its central role at the heart of European economic governance, we know relatively little about the degree to which its policy decisions are contested. In this paper we shed new light on conflict in the ECB Governing Council by studying the speeches made by Governing Council members. We first unveil the latent topical content of the speeches using a dynamic topic-modeling approach, and then employ a discourse- network approach to capture evolving discourse coalitions over time. Our results demonstrate that the policy focus of the ECB Governing Council and the discourse coalitions driving this focus have evolved significantly over time. This variation can be explained by both individual-level speaker characteristics, and the political, economic, and institutional context in which decision-makers interact at the national level.

Punctuated equilibrium theory, or more specifically the general punctuation hypothesis, emphasises the information-processing role of policy-making institutions (Jones & Baumgartner 2012). In information-rich policy environments, boundedly rational policy makers can only focus on so much information and this leads to a great deal of policy stability punctuated with disjoint and episodic policy change. The degree to which policy-making institutions can mitigate these effects is under-studied. To address this gap in the literature, this study examines the communications policy of the three institutions that led the response to the recent economic crisis in Europe: The European Commission (EC), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Focusing on press releases in particular, we apply innovative text analysis methods to capture the evolving policy agenda of each institution in a comparative manner, and examine how factors such as institutional research capacity, reputational concerns, and political oversight affect their ability to react to policy challenges in a proportional manner. Our findings draw attention to some of the scope conditions under which the general punctuation hypothesis holds.

Work in Progress

  • Alternative Sites of Securitization: Women and the #NiUnaMenos Movement (with Emma Murphy).

The field of securitization has its origins in a process-oriented view of security in which security threats are not limited to material threats alone, but rather are socially constructed. Traditional theories of securitization rely on a narrow view of possible actors and sites through which securitization can take place. These sites are typically confined to the historically male-dominated sphere of public authority, and the securitizing actors are often not representative of traditionally marginalized groups. This paper explores the ways in which women have responded to the trend of marginalization by creating alternative spaces in which to securitize and attach collective significance to threats affecting them. By examining the case of the #NiUnaMenos movement originating in Argentina, we demonstrate the ways in which women are challenging traditional conceptions of where and how securitization can take place. Rather than being confined to a male-dominated sphere of public authority, we argue, securitization can take place in alternative spaces such as the realm of social media. These alternative spaces, furthermore, offer the opportunity for previously marginalized groups to take center stage in the securitizing process.

  • Skill-Biased Technological Change and its Drivers (with Nils H. Lehr).

Skill-Biased Technology Change (SBTC) and its close cousin Routine Biased Technological Change have been credited for the increasing college-premium and wage polarization in the US and Europe. In this paper, we apply text analysis tools to directly measure SBTC using text from granted US patents and occupational classifications from O*Net and the DOT. Using our measure we document the extend to which SBTC is rooted in Skill-Biased Innovation SBI. Furthermore, we leverage variation across geography and time to understand the determinants of SBI by exploring local wage structure, unionization rates, and local inequality as potential drivers.

Ongoing Projects

Repost and Like: Securitization Theory in the Digital Age.

Non-peer reviewed publications

If you would like to get access to the latest version of a paper, feel free to send me an e-mail.


Teaching Assistant at University College Dublin

  • Spring 2020: EU Politics
  • Autumn 2019: Foundations of Political Theory and International Relations
  • Spring 2019: Foundations of Contemporary Politics
  • Autumn 2018: Research Methods in Political Science

Workshop Instructor

Curriculum Vitae


September 2018 - To Date PhD in Politics and International Relations
University College Dublin
2015 - 2016 MSc International Security
Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals
2010 - 2014 B.A. International Studies
Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Professional Experience

September 2019 - To Date Lab Manager
The Connected_Politics Lab
September 2018 - To Date Research Assistant
University College Dublin
September 2018 - To Date Teaching Assistant
University College Dublin
2016-2017 Editorial Intern for Latin American Affairs
Open Democracy

Awards and Scholarships

2020 - 2023 SPIRe Continuation Scholarship
University College Dublin
2018 - 2020 SPIRe Graduate Scholarship
University College Dublin
2016 Final research project awarded with diploma and qualification of Honor and Distinction
Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals
2010 - 2014 Undergraduate Merit Scholarship
Universidad Torcuato Di Tella

Visiting Positions

06.2019 - 10.2019 Visiting Researcher
Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals

Continuing Professional Development

August 2020 Longitudinal Network Analysis Workshop
University of Exeter
August 2020 Quantitative Text Analysis
ECPR Summer School
July - August 2018 Advanced R Programming
Barcelona Summer School of Demography

Other Professional Activities

2019 Co-organizer
Quantitative Text Analysis Dublin (QTA-DUB) Workshop



  • Newman Building, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland