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Conceptualizing representative democracy in the EU polity by re-thinking classical key conceptual clusters for the EU multi-level polity

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Framing a new concept of democracy

A better understanding of conceptual change and controversies in the EU provides alternatives for policy decisions and institutional development.

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The EU is a community undergoing constant change and in the midst of political controversy along with it. As such, many concepts and their different aspects are part of what gives shape to European integration in daily life. Yet, ways to approach conceptual history have not been adequately addressed. In light of this, the EU-funded EUPOLCON project set out to create a conceptual framework that represents democracy. An interdisciplinary approach with a thematic aim, the work was divided into three conceptual clusters. These are state-government-policy-polity; parliament-representation-politicians; and citizens-subjects. The main aims were methodological insights of conceptual history, a research agenda for European integration, an analysis of practices related to parliament, government and citizenship, and the establishment of a link between conceptual history and various social disciplines. Many results were achieved during the project. These include lectures and meetings, book and article publications, and workshops. Project results add value to conceptual history sub-fields such as EU studies, comparative politics and political theory. Finally, the findings can be useful for policymakers and civil society agents as regards political debates within institutional settings.


Democracy, conceptual change, controversies, policy decisions, institutional development

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