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How the academic community has explained EU integration

To better address the ongoing European integration crisis, it is important to understand how the academic community explains or understands related events. An EU initiative shed light on the internal nature and functioning of Europe.
How the academic community has explained EU integration
The EU-funded ESNETNARR (Networks and narratives: The transnational community of European studies 1957-2004) project examined European Studies (ES) – the community of scholars who study integration – and their transnational networks and narratives in this field since 1957. It explored whether such networks and narratives through their ways of understanding and discussing helped to shape European integration.

Project partners studied over 140 ES journal articles that were repeatedly read and cited by students, teachers and researchers. They focused on two key aspects of ES narratives: normativity and transnational networks of ES scholars.

For normativity, researchers investigated articles proclaiming European integration or its institutions or policies as damaging or beneficial, flourishing or declining. They studied the use of normative and objective language in ES, and scored texts based on overall degree of normativity and their positive or negative outlook towards integration and its institutions or policies. Results show that most canonical political science articles in ES contained normative expressions.

To analyse networks of ES scholars, the ESNETNARR team conducted 21 semi-structured 60-minute interviews with leading scholars in the field from Europe and the United States. Information was gathered on various affiliations, spatial location, research area and network connections. It also studied ES textbooks to identify the foundation of several different national networks.

Research on the transnational community of ES scholars showed that the biographies of ES scholars greatly influenced their work. Time and generational differences also affect scholarly culture, thus shaping the normativity of academic writing. In addition, enlargement was addressed to examine the effect of various groups within ES on its narratives.

ESNETNARR contributed important insights into the development and presentation of narratives that sustain and challenge European integration.

Related information


EU integration, ESNETNARR, narratives, European studies, normativity
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