Arnd Bauerkämper, Hartmut Kaelble, eds. Gesellschaft in der europäischen Integration seit den 1950er Jahren: Migration – Konsum – Sozialpolitik – Repräsentationen. Studies on the History of European Integration Series. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2012. 187 pp. $54.00 (paper), ISBN 978-3-515-10045-8.
Reviewed by Robert Terrell (University of California San Diego)
Published on H-German (April, 2015)
Commissioned by Chad Ross
Toward an Integrated History of an Integrated Europe
In his much revered Dark Continent, historian Mark Mazower wrote that "the 'Europe' of the European Union may be a promise or a delusion, but it is not reality." Mazower meant to emphasize the contingent nature of Europe and its geography throughout the twentieth century. And rightly so. The present volume, however, suggests that a history of Europe guided and shaped by competing ideologies or value systems and pulled left, right, and center by nations, super powers, and international diplomacy omits the concrete institutional and structural developments that do in fact undergird today's Europe and the flavor of its social integration since the 1950s. The book aims to develop our historical consciousness of the European Community (EC) and the European Union (EU) as subjects in their own right. It follows a history that may have emerged from close circles of politicians in the 1950s but has since grown into a continental union—far beyond a single economic market—that is conscious of and politically engaged in social questions of migration, foreign policy, foreign and domestic security, consumption and environmental policy, culture, education, law, and citizenship.
Comprising the eighth volume in the trilingual (English-German-French) series Studies on the History of European Integration, this text grew out of the 2007 conference "50 Jahre Römische Verträge: Supranationale Institutionen und transnationale Erfahrungsräume." Editors Arnd Bauerkämper and Hartmut Kaelble approach the history of European social integration by offering essays representing important research themes in current literature: migration, consumption, social policy, and cultural representation. Accordingly the book is a bit scattered in focus and nowhere do we get a centralized history of European integration. Indeed some contributors diverge quite drastically in their diagnoses of Europe's past and future, and one closes the book thinking about just how optimistically, cautiously, or skeptically we ought to view European integration. But taken holistically, the book offers insightful histories of the institutional development of European integration and its diverse array of social impacts.
The first section of the book addresses the state of research on European integration. Bo Stråth locates the origins of social integration in the postwar idea of an integrated West European political economy, which resolved a century-long tension between internal social stability and external military stability. From the late 1940s on, he argues, a discursive and structural distinction between economic and social spheres remained relatively unproblematic as long as an economic boom lifted all boats. But beginning with the failed 1970 Werner Plan, the goal of a social Europe was pushed onto ever-thinner ice by growing gaps between federal state rhetoric and institutional backing as well as between economic depression and European expansion, and by a prioritization of market-economic integration at the expense of social policy. In what is probably the most skeptical essay of the volume, he concludes that since the 1970s, the dream of a social Europe is precisely that.
Joining Stråth in the first section is Wolfram Kaiser, who offers a historiographical essay on Gesellschaftsgeschichte and the political history of the EU. On the one hand, political histories by scholars from Alan Milward to Tony Judt have largely focused on diplomatic interstate bargaining rather than on the supranational political structures of integration, such as the European Coal and Steel Community. On the other hand, historians of society have been slow to move beyond national histories at worst and straightforward comparisons at best. Kaiser pleads for a European Gesellschaftsgeschichte that theorizes communication and cultural transfer, transnational networks, and the ways that integration is a process of Europeanization. While this plea may ring loudest in German academic circles, Kaiser rightly hammers that all historians of Europe since 1945 ought to place their subjects into expanding and contracting scales of significance, from the local to the regional, national, supranational, global, and back again.
The second part of the volume focuses on migration and as a whole highlights the importance of colonial legacies. Leo Lucassen and Charlotte Laarman's essay analyzes intermarriage of first- and second-generation migrants as an indicator of both cultural assimilation and upward social mobility. Most of their data comes from Western Europe and concentrates on the period since the 1980s. They make a number of arguments concerning particular colonial pasts, national specificities, and migrant populations. Among their many findings, they argue for the centrality of gender norms and religion over race or skin color as determining factors in cultural assimilation. Georg Kreis in turn goes beyond merely stressing the colonial past by claiming that the problem of South-North migration today is itself "a colonially induced problem" (p. 104). Kreis wants to undermine the metropole-colony dichotomy altogether and make European integration and (particularly African) decolonization one and the same history. Postcolonial migrants today stand outside of, and unsupported by, the structures of Europe. This condition, Kreis argues, is the direct result of political and popular narratives from the Treaty of Rome to the Lomé Convention that sever colonial history from European integration. While his political narrative is largely convincing, his analysis of popular consciousness is more ethereal and the connections between the two remain underdeveloped. Still, Kreis's essay is a powerful critique of historicizing European integration without putting it in world historical context.
The third part of the volume deals with consumption and social policy and demonstrates particularly well the disjointed yet insightful nature of this volume. Detlef Siegfried starts the section by tracing the history of consumer policy standardization in the European Economic Community (EEC) and the EU. He argues for the emergence of the consumer as a European citizen by analyzing the interplay between national policies; consumer actions; and a series of centralized European laws, treaties, and organizations from the 1970s to the 1990s. In each case, the nexus of consumer agency and structural reaction provide the basis of thinking about and governing consumers as citizens. Siegfried concludes optimistically that new discourse around globalization, ethical consumerism, energy consciousness, and genetic modification suggests we should not expect this trend to let up.
Béla Tomka turns Siegfried's optimism upside down. Shifting the focus from consumption to social policy, Tomka approaches the idea of a European Social Model from an East Central European (ECE) perspective. He argues that ostensible liberalization in ECE since 1989 has hinged more on the weight of the Communist past than the role of the EU. The EU may have a formal commitment to a European Social Model and a convergence in social welfare policies. But since post-Communist accession—and here Tomka meshes well with Stråth—the EU has focused evermore "on macroeconomic goals associated with the monetary union at the expense of social rights" (p. 128). In ECE, the weak civil society and shaky social solidarity leftover from Communism have been crucial in social and welfare politics and undermine any practical influence of EU policy.
Reinforcing the polarized EU optimism and skepticism yet further, the third contribution to the section, from Bernd Schulte, analyzes the legal basis for the coordination of social policy from the Treaty of Rome to the Treaty of Lisbon. Schulte provides a legal history of social integration and argues that EU Social Security Coordination today offers a legal precedent for the integration of a social Europe. Schulte's claim that the Treaty of Lisbon was a victory of "Social Europe" because it respected the boundaries of national welfare states perhaps reads against the grain of the distinctly national flavor of the EU's Social Security Coordination. Taken together, it is unclear how the contributions in part 3 tie together in any explicit way. This ostensibly odd collection of essays points both to the sampler-platter style of this early history of European integration as well as to the possibility that this volume is better read for its pieces than for its sum.
The fourth part of the volume focuses on representations of Europe and European social integration. Rolf Petri investigates the place of regions and regionalism in integration since 1989. Equating political discourse to "representation," Petri authoritatively analyzes regionalist movements from the usual suspects in the United Kingdom and Spain to more offbeat regionalisms in the Baltic, Italy, and the Balkans. Combining an analysis of EU structural developments that provide a political footing to regions with a diverse analysis of regional political rhetoric, he argues that EU policies have contributed to the revival of the region and a "resumption of traditional discourses" of regional identity (p. 160). While his analysis of modern appeals to "traditional discourses" is impressive, what is missing is a historical purview to show that regionalism ever went away enough to necessitate a "resumption." Nonetheless Petri aligns somewhat with Schulte's claims that the EU now provides a platform for Union-wide social change. His piece is one of the most thought provoking in the volume in terms of the possible futures of Europe should the region gain momentum after two centuries of playing second (or third) fiddle to the nation in what he calls the "trialectics" of region, nation, and Europe (p. 160).
The volume closes with perhaps its most optimistic and beckoning contribution—a counterweight to Stråth's skeptical opening piece. Anne-Marie Autissier shows how Europe's centuries-long paradoxical history of cultural superiority and cultural borrowing manifests in the context of European integration. She claims that Europe has been structurally embracing global exchange and cultural pluralism. Since decolonization, European governmental and private bodies, such as the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Programs and the Anna Lindh Foundation, have supported intercultural dialogue, the spirit of which echoes Kreis's plea for Euro-African historical consciousness. What lies in front of Europe, she announces, is the need to provincialize itself, to open its intellectual dialogue, and to "transform the national myth into a crossed local, global, transnational idea of governance, creating new public spaces where civil societies, diasporic communities and all individuals are included as full partners" (p. 179). What remains to be seen is the political, popular, and cultural will to pursue such a new Europe.
As these synopses of each contribution demonstrate, Bauerkämper and Kaelble offer no all-encompassing or authoritative history of European integration, the "European Social Model," or the EU. Indeed, there is no conclusion that puts a nice summary bow on the preceding contributions. Throughout the book some essays are complementary (Autissier and Kreis, or Petri and Schulte) while others are conflicted or apparently mismatched (Tomka and Siegfried, or Schulte and Stråth). It may be precisely the point that the reality of an integrated Europe remains somewhere between what Mazower called a promise and a delusion. But by any measure the book succeeds in the tasks set for it: to sketch out the history, historiography, problems, challenges, promises, and dangers of a social Europe.
Assuming language skills in English and German, the volume could be used for planning upper-division undergraduate courses in European history since 1945 and for inventive courses in political science. Read individually, selected essays could be very usefully paired with seminal texts in graduate-level seminars. Experts in the themes under discussion (migration, consumption, social policy, and representations of Europe) should take notice of the book for their own research. Perhaps the greatest utility of the volume is its central challenge for scholars of Europe who have not considered integration a subject of study either on its own terms or as an integral part of national, regional, and local histories. So in spite of organizational issues and a lack of consensus, this volume is important because it can and should be read as an extension of Kaiser's plea to Gesellschaftsgeschichte: a plea that scholars of Europe place their subjects into diverse and fluid analytic scales from the local to the global.
. Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century (New York: Vintage Books, 2000), xiv.
If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the network, at: https://networks.h-net.org/h-german.
Robert Terrell. Review of Bauerkämper, Arnd; Kaelble, Hartmut, eds., Gesellschaft in der europäischen Integration seit den 1950er Jahren: Migration – Konsum – Sozialpolitik – Repräsentationen.
H-German, H-Net Reviews.
|This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.|