Niilo Kauppi
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A structural constructivist theory of politics and of European integration
in Democracy, social resources and political power in the European Union
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This chapter explores in detail structural constructivism as a theory of European integration. Pierre Bourdieu's structural constructivist theory of politics offers powerful instruments for a critical analysis of political power. In Bourdieu's theory of the political field, politics is a game. In many ways, Bourdieu's pessimistic analysis of politics is reminiscent of Plato's critique of the Sophists. The political reality of the European Union is Janus-faced. On the one hand, it is an emergent system of governance that is networked, not hierarchical, and open, not closed. On the other hand, the European Union is far from being a power-free institutional and discursive space. Compared to other approaches in European integration studies, one of the advantages of structural constructivism as an alternative to social constructivism is that it does not commit itself to either a state-centric or a supranational point of view.

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