Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2003

Re-structuring Europe: European Integration and the Nation State

Lecturer: Professor Stefano Bartolini,
Department of Political and Social Sciences,
European University Institute, Florence, Italy

Main disciplines: Sociology, Political science
Dates: 28 July - 1 August 2003

This course is meant to discuss the issue whether the historical processes of empire retrenchment and dissolution and those of nation-state formation offer a meaningful and useful point of reference when we interpret the historical process of integration in Europe. The goal is to investigate whether the conceptual tools and frameworks developed by modernisation and nation-state formation theories can be fruitfully adapted and applied to the development of the European integration.

Classical modernisation and political development theory may help us to appreciate the specific features of the EU polity by making clear the differences with the national state formation; to clarify that state formation and nation building are contingently linked, because the nation-state was only one of several possible outcomes of state building; to devise concepts and framework as heuristic devices for generating and ordering questions about the relationship between the nation-state and the emerging European polity.

A considerable part of the seminar, therefore, will be devoted to the discussion of this political development conceptual tool kit and to its possible adaptation to the EU development. Stein Rokkan's and Albert Hirschman's theories will be the two main reference works for this theoretical adaptation.

The following substantive questions concerning the EU will be discussed in the seminar:

1) Is the EU an attempt at state formation?
Even if it has not progressed through war and acquisition of territory, to the extent that supranational powers have accumulated at the EU level and functional transfers are already in evidence, this can be defined as a state formation attempt characterised by:

From the historical point of view, there is nothing exceptional or new in this configuration of subsystem differentiation and autonomy, and past experiences may help to conceptualise the problems that emerge from the given configuration.

2) Is the EU an attempt at state formation without nation building?
A European 'nation' does not exist; a European identity as a 'level' of identity amongst others (national, regional, communal) may develop and constitute the basis for building some elements of a European citizenship. Yet, a historical recollection of how European cultural boundaries came to be defined in relation to military, politico-administrative and economic boundaries may help to dissipate some of the certainty of the German Constitutional Court as to the proper sequence of, and relationship between, demos, telos and kratos.

3) Is the EU state formation without democratisation?
Conflict and opposition formation and institutional democratisation were processes occurring within the consolidated state and impinging upon its cultural 'nationalisation'. A closer consideration of 'democratisation processes' of the past may clarify our ideas about requirements, limits and possibilities of the EU's internal democratisation. This requires concentrating on the broader and more deeply rooted process of 'political structuring' of conflict lines within the newly devised borders of the EU. It is necessary to speculate about how large-scale territory external boundary demarcation and internal institutional development may generate processes of interest redefinition for individuals, social collectivities, membership organisations, corporations and bureaucracies. Then we can ask how this new conflict and interest redefinition affect the existing national systems of corporate interest representation and of electoral political representation. Finally, we can extrapolate from this the likelihood that certain political forms will represent a lasting step toward the internal political structuration of the 'European political system'.

Essential Readings

Outline of Lectures

Lecture 1: Introduction
a) Analytic theory(structural profiles) versus historical development (diachronic processes)
b) Micro versus macro

This introductory lecture is devoted to the discussion of the kind of theory which is needed to interpret the relationship between European integration and nation-state development. Predominant existing theories of these processes will be shortly introduced. The excessive and extremist 'dualism' and 'dichotomies' of such theoretical literature will be criticised, namely: 'intergovernmentalism' versus 'supranationalism', 'international relations' versus 'comparative politics' ', 'state' versus 'non-state' ; 'democracy' versus 'techno-bureaucracy'. The lecture will also argue the need for establishing linkages between 'structural profile' analysis and historical developmental approaches, between micro foundations of actors' behaviour and macro outcomes.


These two books represent a constant source of inspiration throughout the course and they need to be read touroughly.

Lecture 2: Analytical Theory I
Key concepts for the analysis of political systems:
a) Authority arenas versus natural arenas
b) Centre formation - Exit

This lecture is devoted to the discussion of a set of basic analytical concepts to be applied to the analysis of political system building. Stein Rokkan and Albert Hirschman works will be introduced as an ideal starting point for the elaboration of such conceptual tools. Hirschman's concept of 'exit' will be develop to include 'non-physical' exits, and Rokkan's concept of 'boundary' will be further elaborated in relation to the formation of membership groups and territorial groups. The distinction between 'natural arenas ' and 'authority arenas' (based on the absence or presence of an actor/structure specialised in the production of behavioural conformity) will be conceptualised through the combination of these revised concepts.


Lecture 3: Analytical Theory II
System building - Loyalty:

Political structuring - Voice:

In this lecture Rokkan's concept of 'system building' and Hirschman's concept of 'loyalty' will be compared and discussed. They are interpreted as the macro-micro concepts that define the formation of cross-local broader 'equality areas' in the cultural (identity), social (social sharing) and political (participation rights) domains. 'Structuring' and 'voice' are then to be seen as the macro-micro concepts that pertain to the formation of political structure of governmental arenas.


Lecture 4:

In this lecture the focus is on those mechanisms that reducing exits and rising boundaries (or increasing exists and lowering boundaries), lock (or unlock) key resources and actors within a system. The lecture discusses what implications derives from these mechanisms for the political exchanges developing within the system and for the level and type of 'political production' that characterises the system.


Lecture 5:
Historical structuring of the nation-state (dynamic processes) I, and;
Large-scale territorial Differentiation and retrenchment:

In this lecture the approach switches from analytical theorising to historical reconstruction. The analytical tool kit discussed in the first four lectures will be tested to interpret the main macro-processes of nation state development: State formation, Capitalist development, Nation building, Democratisation and Welfare state development.


Lecture 6:
Historical structuring of the nation-state (dynamic processes) II:

a) The resulting structural profile of the 'nation-state'

b) The European integration as a sixth developmental process
c) The European integration as a project of 'differential boundary transcendence'
d) The inherent tensions between nation state and European integration

The sixth lecture is devoted to the definition of the profile of the specific structuring of the European 'nation-state'. The process of European integration is introduced interpreting it as a powerful sixth process of European political development that reopens tensions between boundaries' definitions and actors' confinement. The lecture discusses the inherent tensions between the inadequacy of the nation state as a military-diplomatic and economic capsule, on the one hand, and its continued legitimacy as a national, democratic and solidaristic entity, on the other hand.


Lecture 7: Exit options and boundary building in the European Union
a) The peculiar institutional design
b) Structural imbalances in the EU boundary building/removing processes

c) The redefinition of actors/resources locking in at the EU level
d) Differential boundary transcendence and the consequences for national political exchanges

The lecture is devoted to the analysis of the specific project of centre formation, boundary building/removing and exit option inherent into the European Union treaties. Particular attention is paid to the centre accretion in terms of competencies and institutional differentiation, on the one side, and the specificity of the institutional design and of the political production, on the other side. The lecture also discusses the European Union imbalances in political production (negative versus positive integration, etc.) and in the resulting locking of key actors.


Lecture 8: The restructuring of the nation state
a) Differentiation processes:

c) Nation

d) Participation

e) Social sharing

Lecture number eight concentrates on the direct and indirect impact of the European integration on the political structuring of the nation state. The lecture deals with 1) the differentiation of interest orientations of social and corporate groups and of territorial sub-state entities that may result from their access to extra-national regulative, jurisdictional and material resources; 2) the shift in balance between forms of territorial, corporate and electoral representation within the nation state; 3) the empowerment and disempowerment of key institutional actors (executives, parliaments, parties).


Lecture 9: The political structuring of the European Union
a) Political representation in loosely bounded territories
b) The EU and political alignments

c) Europeanisation of;

This lecture investigates the extent to which new political structures are created at the European Union level. The key question is the extent to which cleavage systems, interest intermediation structures and centre-periphery relations can be 'Europeanised' and what are the likely consequences of this Europeanisation. Regional representation, Euro-parliamentary groups and parties, Euro interest groups are analysed in this light.


Lecture 10: Conclusion
a) The restructuring of the nation-state 'triangle' (identity-participation-social sharing) at the European level?
b) The disintegration of the nation state 'triangle' through European integration?

The conclusive lecture recast the main points of the course. It also discusses the general issue 1) whether the current mode of European integration is likely to 'dis-integrate' the specific nation-state integration and legitimation triangle: identity, participation, social sharing; and/or 2) whether some 'restructuring' of this integration-legitimation triangle will be possible at the European Union level. Key (near) future development, like the institutional changes implied by the activities of the Convention and the enlargement to the East, may be discussed within this framework.


The lecturer
Born in 1952, Stefano Bartolini is a graduate in political science of the University of Florence. He has been assistant at the University of Bologna (1976), assistant professor at the European University Institute (1979), associate professor at the University of Florence (1985), and full professor at the University of Trieste (1990) and the University of Geneva (1991). He is editor of the Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica and a member of the scientific editorial board of West European Politics and Electoral Studies. In 1990 he was awarded the UNESCO Stein Rokkan Prize for the Social Sciences.

He has been part-time professor at the University of Geneva and at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, Paris. His research interests focus on West European political development and comparative methodology. He has published in the fields of French and Italian politics, presidentialism and institutional reform, political parties and European electoral history and electoral behaviour. His present academic interests lie in the historical mobilisation of the contemporary changes in patterns of political and electoral competition and in the impact of European unification on the forms of domestic political representation.