Authorizing affluence: European Union social policy and promotion of the commerce society : a critical theoretical analysis
Edquist, Kristin Alisa
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This dissertation analyzes three areas of contemporary European Union (EU) social policy---social exclusion, gender equality, and employment---in an attempt to understand the implications of European integration for societies within EU borders. Presenting original research, including personal interviews with local and regional authorities, leaders of EU-sponsored projects, and representatives of various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), it argues that European integration is a process whereby European-level institutions, at the behest of EU member-state authorities, enlist state, regional, and local authorities, business and labor representatives, and non-state actors including NGOs in a project of development defined as economic growth. In particular, it analyzes non-legislative EU policy instruments in the three policy areas, and argues that these instruments place a priority on social relationships of market exchange, and compel regional and even local authorities and NGOs to encourage market exchange relations between individuals and groups. This occurs even in EU gender equality policy, whose ultimate aim, it is argued, is to promote women's role as discrete economic actors. As a result of these dynamics, European integration holds implications that vary geographically, especially from North to South, and sociologically, depending on a given locale's level of institutionalization of social relations. Thus, the dissertation differs from neo-functional and liberal intergovernmental EU integration scholarship in that it views states and supranational institutions primarily as collaborators, rather than competitors. And it differs from functional integration and liberal feminist analyses of EU social policy because it focuses on the ideological and sociological, rather than functional or sex-dependent, implications of integration. As such, it contributes a distinct cross-disciplinary approach to European integration scholarship that combines important insights from critical sociologists, critical geologists, and critical feminist theorists, and therefore broadens our understanding of the larger significance of the European Union for the persons and societies that experience integration on a daily basis.
- Political science