Due to the increasingly complex character of overlapping institutional, legal, economic and social spheres, and the interdisciplinary and evolving field of perspectives, European Studies constitutes a particularly challenging, and at the same time exciting terrain for reflecting upon the conduct of inquiry in social sciences.
To systematically explore these analytical strategies, and to foster an awareness of the implications of these methodologies within European Studies and beyond is an essential dimension of conducting research on EU affairs. And yet more often than not the question of underlying methodology in EU Studies is being conflated with a certain fetishism of methods. Within the (sub)disciplinary confines of the EU Studies sphere, methods are too often discussed with exclusive regard to their explanatory power, validity or parsimony, without critical reflection of how specific analytical strategies are intimately linked with particular views of social reality. It is these fundamental methodological choices underwriting EU Studies research that constitute the focus of this workshop.
This workshop seeks to contribute to this debate by providing a platform for discussing questions of research design and concomitant research strategies. Rather than focusing on epistemological concerns, which is often the case in the discussion about positivist and interpretive approaches (generally reproduced in the spurious distinction between 'quantitative' and 'qualitative' research), the primary focus will be on the ontological grounds of 'what we talk about when we talk about Europe'. The workshop aims to cut across disciplinary boundaries to develop analytical strategies that can capture the dynamic social reality of European Union. Instead of a reconciliation of different methodologies, the objective here is to survey and critically reflect on the analytical principles underlying current research in EU Studies at distinct locations of the methodological spectrum.