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Informal Governance in the European Union

Edited by Thomas Christiansen and Simona Piattoni

This book addresses an issue of paramount importance concerning the politics of the European Union: aspects of governance and policy making in the EU that are labelled ‘informal’. Much of the literature on the EU focuses on the formal facets of EU politics, but uniquely, the subject matter within this book deals with informal aspects such as: the role of personal relationships, the presence of non-hierarchical policy-networks and non-institutional channels of interest representation, and the relevance of the unwritten rules and routines which govern these aspects of EU politics.
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Chapter 3: Cultures of states and informal governance in the EU: an exploratory study of elites, power and identity

Ulf Hedetoft


Ulf Hedetoft INTRODUCTION The aim of this chapter is twofold. First, to develop the concept of state culture, distinguish it from that of political culture, and relate it to the notion of informal governance. And second, to apply this concept to the EU and its different types of relations with and impact on the member states. The concluding section of the chapter attempts to extract the most significant results of the analysis, but also to point up a number of problems and issues (both empirical and methodological) that are in serious need of further investigation along these lines. STATE FORMATION AND STATE CULTURE IN WESTERN DEMOCRACIES: CHARTING THE TERRITORY States are sites of power and authority which historically have served both elite purposes and broader societal interests. They have always maintained and legitimated themselves with reference to providing people(s) with security from outside threats and domestic menaces, to meeting collective needs, to protecting group cultures and identities, and so on – all in the name of some kind of Allgemeinheit and ‘general will’ (although these concepts derive from European modernity and are characteristics of the modern bourgeois state). Historically, they have increasingly become institutionalized and democratized. Max Weber’s tripartion of state authority into traditional, charismatic and rationalistic-legalistic (Weber [1922] 1957) captures a development from personalized (arbitrary) forms and discourses of power towards more legalistically bounded and possibly more predictable power exertion, but it also conceals the fact that both traditionalism, charisma and other culturally determined dimensions have not disappeared, but...

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