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Public Debates over Europe in Britain: Exceptional, Conflict-Driven and Path-Dependent?

Statham, Paul and Gray, Emily. (2004) Public Debates over Europe in Britain: Exceptional, Conflict-Driven and Path-Dependent? In: UNSPECIFIED, Sheffield, UK.

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    Abstract

    This article undertakes an analysis of the British public debate over European integration through recourse to an original data-set on political claims-making. The public sphere is conceptualised as a space where citizens interact through their acts of public communication. Such public communications are seen as a potentially important source of the Europe-building process, by providing public input to the elite-led processes of European political institutional integration. Our empirical findings show that British public debates are internalised within the nation-state rather than creating links to supra- or trans-national European polities. In addition, we find relatively low levels of civil society engagement compared to that of political elites, and a high level of political competition between the two major political parties, Labour and Conservative. Overall, we argue that elite ambivalence to Britain’s position within the European Union has created this climate of uncertainty, and political competition over Europe. With respect to the proposed referendum on the Constitution, we argue that it will be difficult for public actors, including the Labour government, to make the pro-European case. This is because, first, the opt-out and non-committed stance of previous governments on European integration has legitimated political Euroscepticism, and second, pro-European stances have so far made far fewer attempts to frame their arguments on this political terrain than their Eurosceptic opponents.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Subjects for non-EU documents: EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > europeanisation/europeanization & European identity
    Countries > U.K.
    EU policies and themes > Policies & related activities > political affairs > public opinion
    Subjects for EU documents: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Series: UNSPECIFIED
    ["eprint_fieldname_eusries" not defined]: UNSPECIFIED
    EU Annual Reports: UNSPECIFIED
    Conference: University of Sheffield, Department of Politics > ESRC/UACES Series of Seminars on EBPP > 2004-07-16 Seminar on EBPP
    Depositing User: Phil Wilkin
    Official EU Document: No
    Language: English
    Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2006
    Page Range: p. 31
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2011 17:40
    URI: http://aei.pitt.edu/id/eprint/6117

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