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Cover Politics in the European Union

4. Critical Perspectives  

This chapter examines the range of critical perspectives now applied to the European Union, including social constructivism, critical political economy, critical social theory, critical feminism, and post-structuralism. These critical—often termed ‘post-positivist’—approaches emphasize the constructed and changeable nature of the social and political world. Many such approaches reject the notion that social reality can be objectively observed and argue that various agents, including policy actors and scholars themselves, are involved in its construction. They highlight the less obvious manifestations of power that pervade the interrelated worlds of political action and political theorizing. It is important to consider why these more critical perspectives have been absent for so long within mainstream studies of the EU.

Chapter

Cover European Integration Theory

10. Critical Political Economy  

Bastiaan van Apeldoorn and Laura Horn

This chapter examines European integration from the perspective of critical political economy. It first outlines a historical materialist framework for understanding European integration against a broader context of capitalist restructuring; focusing in particular on neo-Gramscian perspectives but also highlighting other strands of critical analysis. The chapter then proceeds with an integrated analysis of economic and monetary union (EMU) as a political project. With a focus on continuity and changes within the political economy of neo-liberalism, the euro crisis serves as a reference point to illustrate the strengths and contributions of critical political economy. Finally, contemporary perspectives on contestation and resistance in European integration are discussed.

Chapter

Cover European Union Politics

6. Theorizing the European Union after Integration Theory  

Ben Rosamond

This chapter deals with recent theoretical work on the European Union. Three broad analytical pathways are discussed: comparative political science; a revitalized international relations (IR); and ‘critical theories’. This chapter discusses in turn the contribution to EU studies of comparative political science in general and new institutionalist political science, and in particular the emergence of social constructivist approaches to the EU, IR’s contribution to the theorization of EU external action, together with approaches from the subfield of international political economy (IPE), and a variety of critical theoretical readings of the EU. The chapter also explores how IR theories might be brought back into EU studies. The purpose of the chapter is to show how the EU still raises significant questions about the nature of authority, statehood, and the organization of the international system. These questions are doubly significant in the present period of crisis, where the issue of ‘disintegration’ comes to the fore.