The private life of politics

Turkey’s Europeanisation saga, which began in 1959 and climaxed in 2005 with the opening of membership negotiations with the European Union (EU), presents a unique opportunity to understand how interstate actors negotiate their interests; what ‘common interests’ look like from their historically and culturally contingent perspectives; and what happens when actors work for their private, professional, public, personal or institutional interests, even when those interests may go against their mandate. Honing in on the role of diplomats and lobbyists during negotiations for Turkey’s contentious EU membership bid, this book presents intricate, backstage conflicts of power and interests and negotiations of compromises, which drove this candidate country both closer to and farther from the EU. The reader will find in the book the everyday actors and agents of Turkish Europeanisation and learn what their work entails, which interests they represent and how they do what they do. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Brussels, the book argues that public, private and corporate actors, voicing economic, political and bureaucratic interests from all corners of Europe, sought access to markets and polities through the Turkish bid instead of pursuing their mandate of facilitating Turkey’s EU accession. Although limited progress was achieved in Turkey’s actual EU integration, diplomats and lobbyists from both sides of the negotiating table contradictorily affirmed their expertise as effective negotiators, seeking more status and power. This is the first book-length account of the EU–Turkey power-interest negotiations in situ, from the perspective of its long-term actors and agents.

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Workfare, post-Soviet austerity and the ethics of freedom

This book is an ethnography of politics of waiting in the contemporary austerity state. While the global political economy is usually imagined through metaphors of acceleration and speed, this book reveals waiting as the shadow temporality of the contemporary logics of governance. The ethnographic site for this analysis is a state-run unemployment office in Latvia. This site not only grants the author unique access to observing everyday implementation of social assistance programmes that use acceleration and waiting as forms of control but also serves as a vantage point from which to compare Western and post-Soviet workfare policy designs. The book thus contributes to current debates across sociology and anthropology on the increasingly coercive forms of social control by examining ethnographically forms of statecraft that have emerged in the aftermath of several decades of neoliberalism. The ethnographic perspective reveals how time shapes a nation’s identity as well as one’s sense of self and ordinary ethics in culturally specific ways. The book traces how both the Soviet past, with its narratives of building communism at an accelerated speed while waiting patiently for a better future, as well as the post-Soviet nationalist narratives of waiting as a sacrifice for freedom come to play a role in this particular case of the politics of waiting.

Select committees and the quest for accountability

Based on unprecedented access to the UK Parliament, this book challenges how we understand and think about accountability between government and Parliament. Using data from a three-month research placement, over 45 interviews and more, this book focuses on the everyday practices of MPs and officials to reveal how parliamentarians perform their scrutiny roles. Some MPs adopt the role of a specialist, while others the role of a lone wolf; some are there to try to defend their party while others want to learn about policy. Among these different styles, chairs of committees have to try to reconcile these interpretations and either act as committee-orientated catalysts or attempt to impose order as leadership-orientated chieftains. All of this pushes and pulls scrutiny in lots of competing directions, and tells us that accountability depends on individual beliefs, everyday practices, and the negotiation of dilemmas. In this way, MPs and officials create a drama or spectacle of accountability and use their performance on the parliamentary stage to hold government to account. This book offers the most up-to-date and detailed research on committee practices in the House of Commons, following a range of reforms since 2010. The findings add new dimensions to how we study and understand accountability through the book’s path-breaking empirical focus, theoretical lens, and methodological tools. It is an ideal book for anyone interested in how Parliament works.