9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN32 Political Sociology

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Political Communication, Media and the Public Sphere Building I, 2E10

Public sphere, political field or governmentality? Mapping the new political sociology of European Union

The call for a new political sociology of European Union, reflected here at this conference and several other initiatives around Europe, offers exciting new prospects for rethinking the empirical terrain of "Europeanised" politics beyond the nation state, whether in terms of governance, policy making, parliamentary and legal politics, mobilisation, or political communication. However, efforts to specify this agenda have been conceptually and empirically broadly split between three camps working with the distinctive legacies of "Habermasian", "Bourdieusian" and "Foucauldian" thinking, each with their own terminology, logics and political attitudes, and each a mostly separate field of debate and empirical enquiry. Using a number of exemplary studies, this paper will offer a preliminary attempt to map the existing contributions, agendas and blindspots of these approaches, with a view to identifying commonalities and streamlining a more coherent agenda for the political sociology of European Union. The goal should be to build towards a more sociologically rich alternative to "mainstream" EU studies where political sociology has been weak, despite the recent doubtful "sociological" turn amongst some "social constructivists" and "institutionalists". The most promising line would appear to be one that moves away from purely theoretical/conceptual debates towards particular empirical issues in EU studies, and looks for "meso" level operationalisations that can help overcome familiar theoretical antinomies of national/post-national, discourse/behaviour, symbolic/material power, and domination/emancipation.

The paper would appear to be best placed in the section on Political Communication, with a second choice being the section on Citizenship and Governance.