Handbook of European Policies
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Handbook of European Policies

Interpretive Approaches to the EU

Edited by Hubert Heinelt and Sybille Münch

This definitive Handbook addresses the current lack of research into European policymaking and development using an interpretive perspective. Questioning areas that mainstream approaches tend to neglect, contributors target the ways in which ideas, arguments and discourses shape policies in the institutional context of the EU.
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Chapter 2: The role of ideas and discourse in European integration

Vivien A. Schmidt


This chapter considers the role of ideas and discourse in European integration from the perspective of discursive institutionalism, which focuses on the substantive content of ideas and the interactive processes of discourse in institutional context. The chapter explores the importance of ideas and discourse in the actual processes of European integration as well as in scholarly analyses of the nature, scope, and processes of European integration. It begins with the ideas and discourse of analysts and actors regarding what the EU is and what it should become, it follows with how they conceptualize the drivers of European integration, then how they deal with questions of legitimacy in the EU, and ends with an in-depth exploration of ideas and discourse related to the Eurozone crisis and its impact on member state policy and politics.

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