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Constructivism and EU Studies Frank Schimmelfennig European Politics ETH Zürich Comenius University, Bratislava April 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Constructivism and EU Studies Frank Schimmelfennig European Politics ETH Zürich Comenius University, Bratislava April 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Constructivism and EU Studies Frank Schimmelfennig European Politics ETH Zürich Comenius University, Bratislava April 2008

2 2 What is constructivism? Theory, not metatheory The primacy of ideational intersubjective structures –Collective rather than individual ideas, culture rather than psychology –Causal or instrumental ideas (knowledge) and principled ideas (values, norms), positive or negative identities –Communities: groups sharing a common culture (set of ideas) and identity The logic of appropriateness –Habitual or normative action –In case of contested or inconsistent ideas: argumentative action The politics of identity and community: Community- building and community conflict

3 Constructivism and integration theory Recent addition to integration theory –With roots in neofunctionalism (loyalty transfer, actor socialization) and transactionalism (community- building) Part of the supranationalist strand of theorizing –Allows for transformative impact of integration –But not inevitable: ideas and identities are sticky Integration as community-building –Creating a common identity and culture Core process of integration: socialization 3

4 Mechanisms and conditions of socialization ImitationSocial learning RulesTemplates, scriptsValidity claims InstrumentsRole models, role- playing Arguing AdoptionHabitualizationInternalization System structureAuthority (agency), legitimacy (rules), identification and noviceness (target actors) ProcessDuration and intensity of contact, deliberation, non-public setting Domestic structureResonance 4

5 Basic proposition Integration is likely to progress –if actors’ identification with the EU increases, –when integrative efforts enjoy a high degree of legitimacy and resonance in the member states Variation in the scope of integration –reflects variation in the relative intensity of identification with the EU –institutional legitimacy –and societal resonance 5

6 Empirical evidence 1.Internal socialization 1.Mass level 2.Elite level 2.External socialization 1.Export of community values and norms through imitation or social learning? 6

7 Identity change at mass level 7 From: Kelemen 2007, arrows added

8 Identity change at elite level Pollack 1998 (review of socialization studies of the 1970s): cognitive change but no positive affective change toward the EC Hooghe 2005: high support for EU in Commission but not as a result of preference shifts or internalization but national socialization Beyers 2005: extensive exposure of Council officials to EU does not necessarily lead to supranational role playing; domestic factors positively affect adoption of supranational role conceptions Egeberg 1999, 2002; Trondal 2002: national bureaucrats involved in Commission and Council committees develop new role conceptions but primary allegiance remains with state Scully 2005: MEPs’ views on integration are little different from those of national parliaments; length of service without effect Jachtenfuchs 2002: EU-related constitutional ideas of major member state parties stable across decades. 8

9 External socialization Kelley 2004: Socialization large ineffective in contrast to incentives Vachudova 2005: passive leverage ineffective Schimmelfennig 2005; Schimmelfennig/Sedelmeier 2005; Schimmelfennig/Engert/Knobel 2006 Adoption of EU political norms endogenous in early democratizing countries (not an EU effect) Otherwise a result of credible membership incentives and low domestic political costs Ineffectiveness of regional organizations that work without major material incentives (OSCE, Council of Europe) EU socialization does not produce new preferences or identities; compliance results from replacing anti-reform and anti-EU elites with pro-reform and pro-EU elites Positive identification facilitates compliance when political costs are high and membership is close (but identification was given) Change of identification occurs in the opposition rather than in government 9

10 Intermediate summary 1.No large-scale identity transformation 2.Prior identities and beliefs decisive for attitudes toward EU 3.Adoption of EU norms and rules not via habitual or normative action  EU socialization is secondary and weak at best  Weak imitation and social learning effects  Not even under favorable conditions as specified by the theory  Strong constructivist theory not corroborated 10

11 Exclusive environment- agency links Technical environment Cultural environment Logic of consequences (calculation) Rationalism Logic of appropriateness (internalization) Constructivism 11

12 Overcoming exclusive environment-agency links Technical environment Cultural environment Logic of consequences (calculation) Hard Rationalism Soft constructivism or rationalism Logic of appropriateness (internalization) Hard Constructivism 12

13 Soft constructivism in EU studies Ideas (intersubjective structures) matter (but not in the way envisaged by strong constructivism) Many integration outcomes cannot be explained without reference to ideas (but without change in identity) Ideas and identities as EU-level institutions Ideas as constraints and resources for strategic action –Ideas as limits to integration (even if integration is rational) –Strategic use of ideas/rhetorical action to bring about idea-based outcomes (even if integration is not rational) 13

14 Ideas as limits to integration Risse et al. 1999: no Euro in Denmark and Britain Gstöhl 2002: Swiss non-membership < direct democracy, neutrality 14

15 Strategic use of ideas: rhetorical action Schimmelfennig 2001: Eastern enlargement: use of pan-European liberal democratic identity of the EU by candidate and pro- enlargement countries to overcome opposition Rittberger 2005: increase in EP competencies in order to create legitimacy for integration Rittberger and Schimmelfennig 2006: parliamentarization and institutionalization of human rights in the EU 15

16 Summary Hard constructivism: theoretically strong but empirically problematic –No pervasive transformation of identities and basic political beliefs even under favorable conditions –If change then not through communicative action leading to internalization of new beliefs Soft constructivism: theoretically eclectic but empirically corroborated –Domestic resonance as a limit to integration –European standards of legitimacy and identity claims as resources for further integration 16

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