Europe's Prolonged Crisis

Hans-Jörg Trenz is co-editor of a book on state and society transformations in the context of the crisis and its aftermath in Europe. The volume includes several chapters by ARENA staff.

The volume Europe's prolonged crisis: the making or the unmaking of a political union is published as part of the series Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology and is edited by Hans-Jörg Trenz, Carlo Ruzza and Virginie Guiraudon.

About the book

This volume outlines a political sociology of crisis in Europe, focusing on state and society transformations in the context of the 2008 financial and monetary crisis and its aftermath in Europe. Dysfunctions of the market and the European economic and monetary system pose severe challenges to the legitimacy of political order at national, European and global level.

In this collection, the contributors investigate how the crisis undermines the integrity of political institutions and democratic government at EU and member state level, and analyse how the experiences of social deprivation are translated into political conflict and cleavages across the European space. Evidence is provided for how the return of redistributive conflicts correlates with a 'new politics of identity', nationalism, regionalism and expressions of Euroscepticism. Crisis affects patterns of social exclusion but, as this book reveals, it can also activate social networks and impacts on new forms of solidarity, which are emerging locally and transnationally.

The book includes several chapters by ARENA staff.

The crisis and the questions of de-parliamentarization

John Erik Fossum in chapter 2 assesses how the current crisis has affected the representative structures of state and democracy. The crisis appears to have greatly weakened parliaments in relation to executives, which in turn has amplified outside and bottom-up forms of political contestation, through which the basic legitimacy of the EU representative system is challenged. The question for a ‘politicized’ EU is then how to account for the social dynamics that either drive integration forward or constrain it in a way that only ‘ordered disintegration’ might be a viable option.

Eurocrisis and EU citizenship

Espen D. H. Olsen in chapter 4 interprets EU citizenship as a tool of resilience for citizens, and especially young Europeans, who migrate in the context of crisis. He takes a bottom-up perspective of citizens’ ‘enactment’ of rights. In coping with the crisis, how are these rights used and understood by EU citizens? This question is answered through a study of EU citizens who utilize EU citizenship rights to migrate in the context of crisis. The chapter is based on data collected through an online survey and group interviews with EU citizens who have migrated to Norway during the crisis, as well as with state officials, NGO representatives and street-level aid workers ‘on the ground’.

A media perspective on European crises

In chapter 10, Mai’a K. Davis Cross and Xinru Ma emphasize the continuity of crisis narratives, which have accompanied European integration at numerous junctures. In their comparative analysis of three of such crises (the Iraq crisis, the constitutional crisis and the Eurozone crisis), they can show how international media has always played an active role in amplifying crisis perceptions and constructing worst-case scenarios for the uncertain future of Europe. The flip side to these negative media stories is that they can cause (or even become tools for) actions or policies that enhance the cleavages and tensions inherent in the European social space or lead to new forms of exclusion. Among the economic losers of market integration, Euroscepticism gains ground occupying similar agendas of national (regional) protection and closure or, in some instances, even mobilizing a European alliance of nationalists.

Media autonomy, public perceptions and new forms of political engagement

Media contestations of EU legitimacy combined with new restrictions of media freedom are analysed by Asimina Michailidou and Hans-Jörg Trenz in chapter 11. They reconstruct the complex relationship between the Eurocrisis, media and democracy. They start by collecting evidence for the direct effects of crisis on media institutions and their functioning in democracy, and then analyse the politics of public discourse in Europe and its mediating effects on crisis perceptions, responses and democratic legitimacy. Finally, the authors collect evidences for how media can also empower people affected by crisis and help them to develop capacities of resilience. The latter are often linked to new media and social media practices with a potential to open new transnational spaces of political contestation and legitimation.

Full info

Europe's Prolonged Crisis: The Making or the Unmaking of a Political Union
Edited by Hans-Jörg Trenz, Carlo Ruzza and Virginie Guiraudon

Palgrave Macmillan, 2015
ISBN: 9781137493675

Published Sep. 23, 2015 9:44 AM - Last modified Jan. 22, 2016 12:05 PM