European Republicanism(s)

European Union
Political Theory
National Perspective
Section Number
Section Chair
Andreas Busen
Universität Hamburg
Section Co-Chair
Cillian McBride
Queen's University Belfast

The last twenty or so years have seen a veritable surge in research on, or inspired by, republicanism. A supposedly forgotten tradition of political thought, republicanism has been ‘rediscovered’ as a European heritage which offers a viable alternative to dominant frameworks of thinking about social, political and economic questions (and to liberalism, in particular).

Notably, republicanism has been characterized not as a comprehensive political theory but as a research program: Starting out from a number of core ideas (an account of freedom as non-domination, a focus on the role of institutions, an emphasis on citizenship, etc.), republicanism provides a framework for pursuing various research questions in different disciplines (including different subfields in political science). Undoubtedly, broader normative and conceptual questions still need further clarification – as evidenced by respective studies on power, democracy, or social justice. However, there is now also a growing literature on the ‘application’ of republican ideas to much more specific social and political issues and challenges – comprising studies on electoral systems, criminal law, the status of religious minorities, or basic income models.

Such ‘applications’ include attempts at employing republicanism in addressing pressing social and political challenges in Europe – like the debt crisis and its repercussions, the rise of populism, separatist movements, or the refugee crisis – which decidedly have an impact on individual states, but at the same time need to be faced on the level of Europe or, more specifically, the European Union. Interestingly, this duality in perspective echoes one within the republican tradition itself: The rediscovery of republicanism has led to a (re-)discovery of a multitude of thinkers, works and discourses in different European countries as contributions to this tradition of political thought – reaching well beyond its oft-cited Roman origins. While this supports the characterization of republicanism as a ‘shared European heritage’, it suggests that we might also speak of a plurality of European republicanisms.

The ECPR General Conference is the ideal place for further discussion of the perspectives (both theoretical and practical) opened up by republicanism. It presents an opportunity not only to discuss the potential merits of republicanism as a research program with colleagues from different fields in political science, but also to bring together perspectives from different European countries, and thus to highlight and further explore the specifically European dimension of republicanism.

Potential Panels:

Being citizen of a European Republic – responsibility and opportunity
Republicanism and work
Republican freedom and political actors: individuals or collectivities?
Republicanism and structural domination
Machiavellian Moments: Weimar, Paris and beyond

Section Chairs:
Dr. Andreas Busen is wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter in the Department for Political Science at the University of Hamburg. He has previously worked at the University of Frankfurt and Oxford University. His research areas include political theory and the history of political thought, with a special interest in questions of methodology, critical theory, and historical and contemporary perspectives on republicanism, on which he has published both in German and English.

Dr. Cillian McBride is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast. His research focuses on republicanism, recognition, and Irish politics. He is the co-editor (with Keith Breen) of Exploring Republican Freedom: Freedom and Domination (Routledge, forthcoming).

Panel List

P027Being citizen of a European Republic – responsibility and opportunity View Panel Details
P395Republicanism and Work View Panel Details
P420Structural Domination View Panel Details
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"To govern is to choose" - Duc de Lévis

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