ARENA Tuesday Seminar: Hans-Jörg Trenz

Prof. Hans-Jörg Trenz from ARENA and University of Copenhagen presented his paper 'Euroscepticism as EU polity contestation: from normative assessment to cognitive framing' at the ARENA Tuesday Seminar on 3 March 2015.

Photo: UiO

The paper, which is a contribution to a forthcoming book on Euroscepticism, theorises Euroscepticism in relation to European integration. It locates Euroscepticism as part of the ongoing legitimacy contestation on the EU and tests three standard approaches to explain the contested character of EU legitimacy. It outlines firstly the attitudinal approach, which is based on the assumption that political conflicts over European integration correspond to changing attitudes of citizens. The second approach views political legitimacy as an outcome of the strategic mobilisation of collective actors, particularly political parties. And the third approach discusses political legitimacy in relation to welfare, material well-being and modes of collective empowerment. Trenz argues that Euroscepticism is neither an attitude nor a discourse.

Instead, Trenz conceptualises Euroscepticism as the mistrust of the system, or ‘regime’.  A crisis of legitimation is playing out in public through the debating of choices of European integration involving questions of power and conflict. Euroscepticism is contestation of what the EU is and represents rather than how it functions and what it does. Therefore, Euroscepticism is neither an ideology nor is it confined to a particular arena. It is instead diffuse and elusive, negative and reactive. Trenz suggests taking a dynamic approach that takes into consideration the cognitive component of political legitimation. He points especially to the role of the mass media in the knowledge production of EU citizens.

The presentation was followed by a discussion on issues such as the link between negative reporting and Euroscepticism, the media as an actor creating Euroscepticism versus measuring Euroscepticism based on media-output, and the role of discourse and discursive arenas.

By Helena Seibicke


Download the paper (restricted access)

Please note that this paper is work in progress and thus has limited distribution, please contact us if you would like access. Do not cite without permission from the author.

Published Jan. 20, 2015 3:34 PM - Last modified Apr. 4, 2022 12:06 PM