Conceptions of Europe: A Review of Recent Trends

Delanty, Gerard (2003) Conceptions of Europe: A Review of Recent Trends. European Journal of Social Theory, 6 (4). pp. 471-488. ISSN 1368-4310

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The nine books under consideration reflect a tendency in recent scholarship to view Europe as an object of research and of theoretical and philosophical reflection. The question of Europe has now had an impact on the diverse fields of sociology, anthropology, political science, philosophy and history which have all responded in different ways to the recognition that a transnational project engineered by nation-states is transforming those very entities that gave rise to it and something new is being created in this process. Although it is debated exactly how new, it is generally agreed that something new is emerging with the enhanced momentum of Europeanization in recent years which has led from a transformation of the state to a transformation of society and the construction of new conceptions of the self, power and culture. As several of the selected books demonstrate, this relatively new object of research and consciousness in the social and human sciences does not replace national societies but operates alongside them and is even articulated within national societies as part of their socio-cognitive self-understanding in a post-national era. Indeed, as Douglas Holmes’s book shows, nations are still capable of arousing powerful expressions of belonging (see also Delanty and O’Mahony, 2002). But Europe is no longer a residual category in contemporary conceptions of the nation: it has a huge presence in all societies as an economic, legal and symbolic entity. The question of Europe is now a central dimension of the wider societal transformation of modernity, the reflection on which is also a reflection on the meaning of Europe. It is thus difficult to be specific on what we are talking about, for ‘Europeanization’ is not leading to a society, a state, a cultural or a geographical entity that can be specified with precision, but a process. Even if we take the now expanding European Union as the geopolitical entity, as several of our authors do, the problem still remains – exactly what is Europe as an object of research?

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2012 11:44
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2012 11:44
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