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The Discursive Construction of EU Democracy: Discourse Network Analysis of the EU’s Struggle for Self-Understanding as a Post-National Community and a System of Governance

European Union
Mixed Methods
Ekaterina Tolstukha
University of Glasgow
Ekaterina Tolstukha
University of Glasgow

The European Union is a political system of an unusual and complex nature. It is neither a state nor an international organization but incorporates elements of both. Although in a partially supranational reality of the EU the very possibility of democratic government is called into question, a gradual increase in competences has been raising demands for EU’s democratization. This increasing demand has stimulated not only academic debate but also a vivid political discussion on the essence and future of both European ‘demos’ and ‘kratos’.
Studied from a range of national perspectives as well as from diverse perspectives of single actors (e.g. Sternberg 2013, Biegoń 2016, Schmidt 2015) this debate, however, lacks a comprehensive birds’- eye view. Analysing political debate around the EU democratic reform (after 2013) as it is reflected in the EU-level pan-European news outlets (Euractiv, Politico) the paper aims to understand EU’s struggle for self-understanding as a post-national community and a system of governance. Adoption of an innovative mixed discourse network approach allows exploring patterns of communicative relations emerging between different actors and ideas. In other words, the paper presents empirical measures of the structural features of the discourse on EU democracy (e.g. groups of ideas that are dominant and groups of actors promoting these ideas).
To sum up, if politics is a battle for a discursive hegemony (Leifeld and Haunss 2012), the proposed paper employs an innovative empirical approach to presents a complex map of the battleground of the EU democracy discourse insightful both for EU institutional design studies and political theory on EU democracy.
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