Interpretive Approaches to the EU
Edited by Hubert Heinelt and Sybille Münch
This chapter recounts the difficult emergence of consumer policy at the level of the EU and its expansion against the depoliticization at work throughout its development. Moving beyond institutionalist accounts, we offer a critical focus on continuities and changes in notions of ‘being a European consumer’ and how these are invoked in policy discourse. First, we propose that the quality of language and complex interaction in this multi-level setting, as well as the particular strategy of the European Commission to set aside consumer affairs – as a strategy of depoliticization – marked the gradual development of this policy area. Second, we argue that these ambiguities – and the ‘interpretive voids’ they produce – form the very conditions for the rise of behavioural approaches as a relatively recent regulatory paradigm in European consumer policy.
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