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Ideologies and the European Union

European Union
Political theory
WS09
Jonathan White
The London School of Economics & Political Science
Carlo Invernizzi Accetti
Sciences Po Paris

Abstract

OVERVIEW Contemporary debates on the nature and value of the European Union often touch upon the notion of ideology. Its critics routinely describe it as an ideologically-motivated project, associating it either with a form of ‘neo-liberal capitalism’ on the left or ‘liberal multiculturalism’ on the right. Its defenders often praise it in explicitly ‘post-’ (or, more precisely: ‘anti-’) ideological terms, either as a ‘regulatory body’ focused on the production of ‘output legitimacy’, or as a ‘bulwark’ against dangerous ideological r(ev)ivals, such as those represented by ‘nationalism’ and ‘populism’ today. In many different ways, therefore, the European Union appears to be the site of an ideological struggle. Yet, the existing academic literature linking the study of the European Union with that of political ideologies is surprisingly thin. This is no doubt in part because of a long-standing division of labor within the field of political science that pushes more ‘empirically-minded’ scholars to focus primarily on institutions, behavior and policy outcomes, and more ‘theoretically-minded’ scholars to pose rather abstract normative questions relating to themes such as democracy, legitimacy and justice. The interest of the category of ‘ideology’ as a tool for political analysis, however, lies precisely in the fact that it offers a way of bridging ‘empirical’ and ‘theoretical’ approaches to the study of politics. At the same time, within the small but industrious sub-field of political theory devoted explicitly to the study of ideologies, we can observe the persistence of a kind of ‘methodological nationalism’ that has translated in a tendency to discuss specific ideological traditions – such as ‘liberalism’, ‘socialism’ and ‘conservatism’, but also ‘green’ political thought, ‘feminism’ and ‘populism’ – primarily in relation to national contexts. There is precious little work on the way in which these ideological traditions have theorized the ‘transnational’ dimension, and almost none on the way in which the ideal and process of European integration fit within them. The purpose of this workshop is to put these separate bodies of thought in dialogue with one another, examining on one hand what the conceptual category of ‘ideology’ can add to our understanding of the European Union, and on the other hand the way in which the process of European integration has inflected the ideological battles that define contemporary European politics, both nationally and transnationally. Bringing these sets of questions to bear onto one another opens a broad – but nonetheless well-defined – field of research that can be explored in a multitude of overlapping ways. More specifically, we welcome papers discussing: 1) The historical place of ideology in the making of the European Union. From Christian Democracy to Ordoliberalism, Internationalism and Neo-liberalism, what ideologies and ideological fragments have left their mark on European integration? How stable and coherent, or marked by tensions, is the European Union’s current ideological make-up? What has been the significance of particular historical moments, including the current Euro crisis? 2) The mechanisms by which European institutions reproduce their ideological dimension(s). What can political science and legal scholarship tell us about the practices that serve to privilege some ideological tendencies over others? What actors, if any, exercise control over this, and with what degree of conscious awareness? What is the relative significance of different EU institutions (e.g. Council, Commission, Parliament, Central Bank and Court of Justice), and of different national contexts? More generally, what does it mean for institutions to instantiate a set of ideas? 3) The way in which the process of European integration has inflected existing ideological traditions and debates. How has a united Europe been imagined from within different ideological traditions and how have they been changed by it? Is there a specific ideology of European integration and what ideological resources have been used by the opponents of this project? More specifically: what is the relationship between ‘Europeanism’ and other well-established ideological currents such as ‘liberalism’, ‘socialism’ and ‘conservatism’, but also ‘nationalism’, ‘populism’ and the so-called ‘end-of-ideology thesis’, to the extent that this has been identified as an ideological postulate in itself? 4) The distinctiveness of the transnational realm. To what extent does the specifically ‘transnational’ dimension of the process of European integration affect ideological dissemination and conflicts? Do cultural pluralism and dispersed decision-making foster original patterns in the relations between ideologies and institutions? What can the research of political sociologists reveal about the relative significance of lay and elite sources of ideological influence in the transnational context? 5) The conditions for an ideological counter-project. Can existing European institutions be redesigned to reduce or alter their ideological character? What precedents exist for a process of transforming the ideological foundations of an institutional settlement? What actors and forces might drive such a process, drawing on what existing resources? What political-philosophical principles might inform the evaluation of this transformative process? RELATION TO EXISTING LITERATURE Although the European Union is the subject of an enormous literature, very little has been written on it as a site of ideological politics. The few studies that do exist are almost invariably by historians, and examine the role played by specific ideologically motivated actors – such as “transnational Christian Democratic networks” or “early apostles of neo-liberalism” – in the process of construction of the European Union (Cf. McNamara 1998; Kaiser 2007; Anderson 2009; Gerber 1994). This workshop is nonetheless situated at the point of intersection between several other bodies of literature, which it proposes to both build on and extend. Within the field of empirical political science, there exists a long-standing debate on the processes that led to the creation of the European Union (“Europeanization”) and the nature of the set of institutions that resulted from it (the so-called “ontological” question). This literature is conventionally divided in a number of competing ‘schools’ of thought, that usually include: “functionalism” or “neo-functionalism” (Haas 1958; Jensen 2003), “liberal intergovernmentalism” (Moravcsik 1998), “statist” approaches to the study of the EU (Milward 1984; Bickerton 2012, 2016) and approaches focused on the development of a form of “multi-level governance” (Hirst 2000; Kochler-Koch and Rittberger 2006; Majone 2009). A common trait of all these approaches is that they focus primarily on underlying “mechanisms” or “structures”. As Mark Blyth (2003) has noted, however, “structures do not come with an instruction sheet”: “ideas” are also essential in determining political outcomes. A workshop examining the specific role played by ‘ideology’ in the process of construction of the European Union therefore also intersects with the growing body of recent literature that has sought to defend the merits of an “ideational” or “constructivist” approach to the study of politics (on this point, see also: Campbell 2002; Hay 2002, 2004; Schmidt 2008; Gofas and Hay 2010; Thatcher and Smith 2013; Schäfer 2016; Steffeck 2015). Within the field of political theory, most of the existing literature on the European Union has focused on developing normative models that address issues relating to: the creation of a European demos (Nicolaidis 2003; Lacroix 2004; Ferry 2006; Müller 2009); the institutional dimensions of democratic legitimacy at the European level (Eriksen and Fossum 2000; Bellamy and Castiglione 2003; Habermas 2009, 2012); and the functional distribution of sovereignty across its different levels of governance (Bellamy and Castiglione 1997; Follesdal 2006; Neyer and Wiener 2010). As such, this literature has devoted very little attention to the different ‘ideological’ sets of coordinates from within which the project of European integration has been (and still can be) imagined and justified. The only partial exception is the ongoing discussion over whether European democracy is better understood in ‘liberal’, ‘neo-republican’, ‘communitarian’, or indeed frankly ‘Christian’ terms (on this debate, see for instance the exchange between Lacroix 2002 and Bellamy and Castiglione 2004; but also: Weiler 2003; Ratzinger and Pera 2005; Follesdal 2006). The reason we consider this only a ‘partial’ exception, however, is that the above currents of thought are most adequately understood as rival “political philosophies”, rather than “ideologies” in the sense in which we intend to use the term for the purposes of this workshop. This is a distinction that has been elaborated at length by Michael Freeden in his seminal work on Ideologies and Political Theory (1998), which points out that whereas both can be understood as “constellations of concepts”, ideologies are distinct from political philosophies because they are: a) specifically intended to orient and inform “political praxis”; and b) not reducible to a specific author or set of authors, but rather characteristic forms of “group thinking”. From Freeden’s seminal work has developed a whole strand of contemporary political theory – and indeed a dedicated journal – devoted explicitly to the study of political ideologies (for further work in this field, or in a related vein, see: Eatwell and Wright 1999; Müller 2003, 2011; Pombeni 2006; Vincent 2009; Heywood 2012; Freeden, Tower Sargents, and Stears 2013). A signal contribution of this body of literature has been to move beyond the Marxian opposition between ideology as “false consciousness” and “science”, while beginning to treat ideologies in the plural, as the unavoidable horizon of the place where political ideas and practice meet. As we noted, however, the way in which political ideologies intersect with the ‘transnational’ dimension – and in particular with the process of European integration – has remained a blind spot in this literature. While including chapters on more than twenty different ideological traditions, the most recent edition of Michael Freeden et al.’s Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies (2013), for instance, invariably discusses them in relation to ‘national’ contexts, and includes no specific chapters on ‘Internationalism’ or ‘Europeanism’ as ideologies. That there is the potential for fruitful research here is suggested by a number of recent studies by German political theorists working on Ordoliberalism and the European Union (e.g. Biebricher 2013, Bonefeld forthcoming), research which as yet remains very much on the margins though of this research programme. By inviting papers that systematically relate the study of political ideologies to that of European integration and the politics it has given rise to, our workshop therefore aims to contribute to all these separate bodies of literature at once. BIBLIOGRAPHY Anderson, Perry. 2011. The New Old World. London: Verso. Bellamy, Richard; and Castiglione, Dario. 1997. ‘Building the Union: The nature of sovereignty in the political architecture of Europe’ in Neil McCormick, Constructing Legal Systems: “European Union” in Legal Theory, London: Springer. Bellamy, Richard; and Castiglione, Dario. 2003. ‘Legitimizing the Euro-polity and its Regime : The Normative Turn in EU Studies’, in European Journal of Political Theory, 2: 7. Bellamy, Richard; and Castiglione, Dario. 2004. ‘Lacroix’s European Constitutional Patriotism: A Response’, Political Studies, 52:1. Bickerton, Christopher. 2012. European Integration: From Nation-States to Member-States, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bickerton, Christopher. 2016. The European Union: A Citizen’s Guide. London: Penguin. Biebricher, Thomas. 2013. ‘Europe and the Political Philosophy of Neoliberalism’, Contemporary Political Theory 12. Blyth, Mark. 2003. ‘Structures Do Not Come with an Instruction Sheet: Interests, Ideas and Progress in Political Science’, Perspectives on Politics, 1:4. Bonefeld, Werner. Online early. ‘Authoritarian Liberalism: From Schmitt via Ordoliberalism to the Euro’, Critical Sociology. Campbell, John. 1998. ‘Institutional Analysis and the Role of Ideas in Political Economy’, Theory and Society, 27:2. Eatwell, Roger; and Wright, Anthony. 1999. Contemporary Political Ideologies. London: Bloomsbury. Eriksen, Erik; and Fossum, Erik. 2000. Democracy in the European Union: Integration Through Deliberation? Abingdon: Routledge. Follesdal, Andreas. 2006. ‘EU legitimacy and Normative Political Theory’, in Michelle Cini and Angela Bourne, (eds.). Palgrave Advances in European Union Studies. London: Palgrave. Freeden, Michael. 1998. Ideologies and Political Theory. A Conceptual Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Freeden, Michael; Tower Sargent, Lyman; and Stears, Marc (eds.). 2013. Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gerber, David J. (1994), ‘Constitutionalizing the Economy: German Neo-Liberalism, Competition Law and the “New” Europe’, The American Journal of Comparative Law 42 (1), pp. 25–84. Gofas, Adreas; and Hay, Colin. 2010. The Role of Ideas in Political Analysis: A Portrait of Contemporary Debates, London: Routledge. Haas, Ernst. 1958. The Uniting of Europe. Political, Social and Economic Forces, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. Habermas, Juergen. 2009. Europe: The Faltering Project. Cambridge: Polity Press. Habermas, Juergen. 2012. The Crisis of the European Union: A Response, Cambridge: Polity Press. Hay, Colin. 2002. Political Analysis, Basingstoke: Palgrave. Hay, Colin. 2004. ‘Taking Ideas Seriously in Explanatory Political Analysis’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 6: 1. Heywood, Andrew. 2012. Political Ideologies: An Introduction. London: Palgrave. Hirst, Paul. 2000. ‘Democracy and Governance’, in Jon Pierre (ed.) Debating Governance, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jensen, Carsten. 2013. ‘Neo-Functionalism’ in Michelle Cini and Nievez Perez-Solorzano Borragan (ed.), European Union Politics, 4th Ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kaiser, Wolfram. 2007. Christian Democracy and the Origins of the European Union, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kochler-Koch, Beate; and Rittberger, Berthold. 2006. ‘Review Article: The Governance Turn in EU Studies’, Journal of Common Market Studies, 44:2. Ferry, Jean-Marc. 2006. Europe: La Vie Kantienne. Paris: Cerf. Follesdal, Andreas. 2006. ‘EU legitimacy and Normative Political Theory’, Michelle Cini and Angela Bourne (eds.) Palgrave Advances in European Union Studies, London: Palgrave. Lacroix, Justine. 2002. ‘For a European Constitutional Patriotism’, Political Studies, 50:5. Lacroix, Justine. 2004. L’Europe en Proces. Paris: Cerf. Majone, Giandomenico. Europe as a Would-Be World Power. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. McNamara, Kathleen. 1998. The Currency of Ideas: Monetary Politics in the European Union. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Moravcsik, Andrew. 1998. The Choice for Europe. Social Purposes and State Power from Messina to Maastricht, London: UCL Press. Müller, Jan-Werner (ed.). 2003. German Ideologies Since 1945. New York: Palgrave. Müller, Jan-Werner. 2009. Constitutional Patriotism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Müller, Jan-Werner. 2011. Contesting Democracy. Political Ideas in Twentieth century Europe. New Haven: Yale University Press. Neyer, Juergen; and Wiener, Antje. 2010. Political Theory of the European Union. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Nikolaidis, Kalypso. 2003. ‘The new constitution as European 'demoi‐cracy'?’ in Critical Review of International Social and Political Thought, 7:1. Pombeni, Paolo. 2006. ‘Ideology and Government’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 11:1. Ratzinger, Joseph; and Pera, Marcello. 2004. Senza Radici. Europa, Relativismo, Cristianesimo, Islam. Milano: Mondadori. Schäfer, David. 2016. ‘A Banking Union of Ideas? The Impact of Ordoliberalism and the Vicious Circle on the EU Banking Union’, Journal of Common Market Studies 54 (4). Schmidt, Vivienne. 2008. ‘Discursive Institutionalism: The Explanatory Power of Ideas and Discourse’, Annual Review of Political Science, 11. Steffeck, Jens. 2015). ‘Fascist Internationalism’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies 44 (1). Thatcher, Mark and Vivien Schmidt. 2013. Resilient Liberalism in Europe’s Political Economy. Cambridge: CUP. Vincent, Andrew. 2009. Modern Political Ideologies. London: John Wiley and Sons. Weiler, Joseph. 2003. Un’Europa Cristiana. Milano: BUR.

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