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“Speaking ‘Europe’: The Politics of Integration Discourse”

Diez, Thomas. (1999) “Speaking ‘Europe’: The Politics of Integration Discourse”. In: UNSPECIFIED, Pittsburgh, PA. (Unpublished)

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    This article explores the role of language in the construction of the European Union. I argue that the various attempts to capture the Union’s nature are not mere descriptions of an unknown polity, but take part in the construction of the polity itself. To that extent, they are not politically innocent, and may themselves become subject of analysis, along with articulations from other actors. My plea is therefore to include discourse analysis in the canon of approaches in European studies. With a few exceptions, and in contrast to the field of International Relations, such work is currently missing. Closing that gap would both enlarge our understanding of the integration process and insert a reflective moment in our analyses. First, it adds an important dimension to the predominant focus on ideas and institutions within discourse. Secondly, it introduces a new ‘face of power.’ Analyses of European integration have so far by and large focused on (absolute or relative) material capabilities as power, and on the interests behind the application of such power. Against such an understanding, Steven Lukes once put his ‘radical’ view of power that works through preventing individuals or classes from realizing their ‘real’ interests in the first place (Lukes 1974). The notion of power that I employ in this article follows the line of Lukes but doubts that there is such a thing as ‘real’ interest independent from the discursive context in which interests emerge. The power of discourse then becomes crucial. Thirdly, it allows for analysis of the contestedness of certain concepts, and thus points towards possible integration alternatives. Finally, it brings a reflective dimension to the research processes, particularly necessary in a field in which many researchers have traditionally been directly entangled with the political process of integration.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Subjects for non-EU documents: Other > researching and writing the EU (see also integration theory in this section)
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > political union & integration/European Political Union
    Other > integration theory (see also researching and writing the EU in this section)
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series and Periodicals: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: European Union Studies Association (EUSA) > Biennial Conference > 1999 (6th), June 2-5, 1999
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2006
    Page Range: p. 17
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:21

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