Understanding the European Union: On the Spotlights and Blind Spots of Political Scientific Research
As the EU has evolved and transformed Europe, political scientific scholarship on the EU (PSSEU) has flourished. Despite this, however, several scholars have pointed to a certain orthodoxy in PSSEU – ..
As the EU has evolved and transformed Europe, political scientific scholarship on the EU (PSSEU) has flourished. Despite this, however, several scholars have pointed to a certain orthodoxy in PSSEU – one centered on mainstream concerns, limited interest in viewing the EU in comparative contexts, narrow scientific methods, and neutrality over normativity. These scholars have called for new directions in PSSEU, so that more can be understood about the process of European integration. This chapter notes that these calls, though welcome, actually do not rest on systematic assessments of PSSEU. Is PSSEU in fact orthodox? This chapter examines 527 articles published during 2011–2020 in three leading EU-focused political science journals. The focus is on themes: What themes are most often addressed? The analysis confirms what we may call a “traditional” bias: a focus on questions of internal institutional design and impact, and externally on issues of foreign and security policy. Alternative themes in principle still within the confines of political science – such as the EU’s relationship to Africa, postcolonialism, or reflections on methods and epistemology – receive little attention. In addition, the analysis shows that surprising asymmetries actually exist across mainstream themes, with few articles addressing for instance agriculture, the budget, or the European Council. The orthodoxy is itself internally uneven. The conclusion advocates for a more diversified and balanced evolution of PSSEU.