Europe commemorates the passing of one century since the eruption of WWI in a challenging and complicated setting. The economic crisis has managed serious blows to the foundations of the European Union and exposed conceptual, political, economic and institutional weaknesses. Yet, in one way or the other, the EU seems to overcome the economic aspects of the crisis and to have, at least temporarily, stabilised its impact. Reversely, the social and political effects of the crisis are gradually amplified. These dynamics were uncovered in the 2014 EP elections. The raise of populism and nationalism was one of the externalities. Abstention and political apathy were others.
At the same time, Europe seems not to afford introversion. Diminishing competitiveness coupled with increasing political and economic assertiveness of other players (namely China and, to a lesser extent, Russia) challenges the leading position of the EU and sketches a grim picture for the future of the Union. The EU, perceived as an economic institution, cannot compete with China whose ample liquidity and lack of attached strings in the form of conditionality render it a much more likable partner for European states. On the other hand, the EU as an envoy of a value system cannot compensate for its limiting economic attractiveness as long as it is unwilling or unable to invest in its fundamental principles (mutuality, reciprocity etc.)
The enhancement of populism, nationalism and Euro-skepticism in Europe derives to a large extent from such political and behaviuoral inconsistencies. The inability of the European leaders and the EU leadership to convincingly prove that their motives are significantly different and that the EU structure in its current form is viable, has resulted in ostensible reasonability of populist arguments. This has led to a shift of political powers in Member States that reinforce the long-standing questions about the legitimacy of EU institutions.
Thus, another important discourse for the future of Europe relates to political pluralism. Euro-skepticism derives its following from other political powers and ideologies that have been held accountable for the eruption and escalation of the crisis, the stagnation of European integration process, and the lack of a convincing alternative economic policy. It is essential to look into those political spaces, understand the reasons for their demise, and discuss improved alternatives. On the other hand, it is important to discuss whether Euro-skepticism is essentially and by-default the “other” in the European Union. How incompatible is it to the European ideals, if there are such? How exclusive is European pluralism for those particular parties and for what reasons?
Finally, examining images of the EU and Member States deriving from crisis-related narratives is essential for the future of the Union. The recurrence of stereotypes and in-Europe otherness as a tool of social mobilization constitute another pressuring challenge for the post-crisis EU. Because, while the goals of the political powers utilising these tools are usually short-term political benefits, their effects on perceptions of countries and peoples carry a long-term impact. What alterations can be noticed in collective perceptions of the EU and among Member States? To what extent did the crisis cause the rise of negative images and to what extent did the pre-crisis period of growth create an unsustainable image of unity based on unsound foundations? Has the common culture and the common symbols of the EU been developed enough to render societies immune to backpedalling?
In that context, we invite contributions from academics, researchers, and policy makers from the fields of sociology, political science, international relations, anthropology, history, political economy, psychology. Multi-disciplinary approaches are particularly welcome. The collective volume will be based on three thematic pillars: Facets of parliamentarism in the EU; political cohesion & integration; perceptions, images & stereotypes; in the post-economic crisis period.
1. Facets of parliamentarism in the EU a. Power elites, pluralism, representation & legitimacy in Member States & the EP b. Democratic deficit: abstention, apathy, skepticism, radicalism c. Party systems, new, old & changing political equilibria: Neo-liberalism, Social-Democracy, Left, Nationalism d. Patterns of social mobilisation – Political discourse & collective action in the EU Member States
2. Political cohesion & integration a. Institutional integration vs. psychological alienation: Political cohesion in post-crisis EU b. Decision making, power balance and normative externalities of EU decision-making c. Crisis & political change: Motive, opportunity or tool? d. Political risk in post-economic crisis EU
3. Perceptions, images, stereotypes & their impact on the process of social and political integration of the EU a. EU’s communication skills: New & old media – Visibility in the public discourse & impact on collective action at the EU level b. Stereotypes and popular perceptions in and of the EU: Impact on crisis eruption, escalation & settlement c. Social groupings and self-identification in post-crisis European societies. d. Cultural integration: Europeanisation of symbols, lifestyle, arts, science.
Submit your abstracts to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Important Dates: Abstracts’ submission deadline: 15 September, 2014. Notification of selected abstracts: October 1, 2014. Deadline for papers’ submission: 20 December, 2014. Publication of papers: March, 2015 as a collective volume on challenges & potentials of post-crisis EU politics & societies.
The recommended length for abstracts is 500 words. Successful abstracts will be selected through blind review. Papers should be drafted in English and address contemporary issues related to the EU politics & societies during and after the economic crisis. Comparative approaches (across countries, time and disciplines) are encouraged.
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