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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.


Cover The European Union

1. Introduction  

Daniel Kenealy, Amelia Hadfield, and Richard Corbett

This chapter discusses the practical and analytical reasons for studying the EU. It presents the EU as a complex and innovative political entity, comprising its member states, its institutions, and its citizens. The chapter presents some of the key theoretical and conceptual approaches to understanding how the EU has developed historically and how it works today. Furthermore, it outlines three broad themes that help the reader make sense of the EU: experimentation and change; power sharing and consensus; and scope and capacity. Finally, it provides an overview of the chapters that follow, which cover topics ranging from an historical overview of the EU’s development to its institutional architecture, from its policy-making process to its democratic credentials, from its key internal policies to its growing role as an actor on the global stage.