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ECPR Summer School in Methods & Techniques 2020

Questions of Dominance and Differentiation in Contemporary Europe

European Union
Political Theory
John Erik Fossum
Universitetet i Oslo
John Erik Fossum
Universitetet i Oslo

This paper’s point of departure is that one of the prominent features of the European Union that emerged out of the many crises and challenges was a more differentiated Union. An important aspect of that was a certain transition from temporally differentiated patterns of integration, but where all moved in the same direction to a situation where states started diverging, in terms of magnitude and direction of integration. The relationship between differentiation and dominance is complex and contingent. Some forms of differentiation engender dominance, others do not. In this paper, I take as my point of departure that the EU post-crisis has clear traits of a segmented political order. Most political systems harbor patterns of segmentation but generally within specific policy fields. In addition, democracies have a range of de-segmenting features that contain these features. A distinctive feature of the EU post-crises is that the EU’s structural make-up has clear traits of segmentation; hence warranting the label segmented political order. I first clarify what such a political order would look like. Thereafter I briefly assess the extent to which such a depiction captures post-crises EU. A segmented political order represents a distinct type of differentiation. In institutional terms, a segmented political order combines supranational and intergovernmental traits in a distinctive manner. From a governing perspective, a segmented political order is imbued with pathologies associated with the privileging of certain distinct forms of professional expertise; and/or certain distinct world-views and ideologies; and certain distinct situational depictions. Each segment is closed in the sense that it defines away or excludes alternative world-views, forms of expertise, situational depictions or frames, ideas or participants. Pathologies pertain to lack of coordination, systematic biases in problem conception that produce suboptimal outcomes, and various legitimacy fallouts pertaining to exclusion and alienation. I proceed to discuss whether or the extent to which such a political order is marked by dominance, by drawing on two conceptions of dominance, associated respectively with Philip Pettit and Ian Shapiro. In the last section, I draw on the findings from the previous parts and present and assess different democratization strategies.
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