News from Jun 05, 2018
This introductory chapter of the third edition of European Integration Theory (OUP 2018) addresses the rationale for a book on European integration theory and introduces the contributions to the book. It begins by addressing the question of Why Study Integration Theory; it then defines the terms ‘integration’ and ‘theory’ and introduces the ‘mosaic of European integration theory’ as the book’s central concept. The chapter also offers an overview of European integration as a process which has been studied for several decades now. To that end, the chapter recalls distinct phases of integration and the respective parts of the mosaic which have been developed to understand and explain them based on descriptive, analytical and constructive theorising. Each phase is distinguished by historical context, leading questions and relevant theoretical reference points. The book’s extensive section on Studying European Integration by taking account of ‘contexts of theoretical development’ and addressing the question of ‘competing or complementary theoretical approaches’ which also identifies the functions and areas of theory. In concluding, the chapter details the concept of the ‘Mosaic of Integration Theory’ and introduces the chapter structure of the book’s contributions.
European integration is a fundamentally open-ended and contested process. Within the ‘mosaic of European integration theories’, critical political economy perspectives highlight the imbalances and structural power asymmetries of the European project, and how they have become manifest in the multiple crises in Europe. How to account for both the origins and consequences of this crisis has become a key question for scholars and students of European integration. We argue that critical political economy (CPE) has an important and unique contribution to make here. Unlike other approaches, CPE seeks to uncover the deep connections between the (internal) dynamics of the European integration process and the dynamics of global capitalism, arguing that European integration, or disintegration for that matter, takes place in a global, structural context that shapes and conditions both form and content of the integration process. In this paper, we provide an overview of the key concepts, methodology and arguments of a critical political economy perspective on European integration. Following a discussion of the core conceptual framework, the paper then proceeds with an integrated analysis of EMU as a political project, with a particular focus on continuity and changes within the political economy of neoliberalism. The Euro crisis here serves as a contemporary reference point to illustrate the strengths and contributions of critical political economy perspectives to the overall mosaic of European integration theories.
Integrating theories about discourse (Discourse Studies; DS) with social science theories allows to grasp the dynamic and fluid co-construction of European identities, both top-down and bottom-up. Such interdisciplinary approaches systematically deconstruct the everyday workings of European institutions and support our understanding of the impact of traditional and social media in their production and reproduction of pro-European or Eurosceptic sentiments and attitudes. In this chapter, I first present some important characteristics of Discourse Studies and Critical Discourse Studies (CDS), specifically of the Discourse-Historical Approach (DHA). I then, secondly, summarize the most relevant discursive research based on a range of
theories and methodological approaches on European integration. Thirdly, I illustrate the interdisciplinary nexus of discourse-oriented European studies with a case study on the mediatization and politicization of the refugee crisis in Austria, from 2015-2016. I specifically focus on legitimation strategies and argumentation schemes which accompany the implementation of ever more restrictive policy decisions.
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