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A Primordial Attachment to the Nation? French and Irish Workers and Trade Unions in Past EU Referendum Debates

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  • Élodie Béthoux
  • Roland Erne
  • Darragh Golden

Abstract

We aim to contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics that are driving EU politicization and the rising Euroscepticism of workers and unions in the public sphere. One explanation frames the rise in Euroscepticism in cultural terms, emphasizing workers’ alleged primordial attachment to their nation. A second uses socioeconomic frames, linking growing Euroscepticism to the increasingly neo‐liberal direction of the EU. The weight of these competing frames in the referendum campaigns on the EU Constitution in France and the Lisbon Treaty and the Fiscal Treaty in Ireland cannot be measured easily, as the categorization of a phrase as socioeconomic or cultural is in itself subject to political classification struggles. We therefore presents the findings of an inductive lexical analysis of all Irish Times, all Le Monde and all worker‐ or union‐related articles published in almost all national media outlets during the mentioned referendum debates. This was made possible by the Alceste software package that allowed us to analyse very large corpuses of articles inductively. Our analysis reveals that socioeconomic terms dominated policy debates in both countries. The findings question existing EU politicization studies that were measuring the salience of different frame types by deductive analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Élodie Béthoux & Roland Erne & Darragh Golden, 2018. "A Primordial Attachment to the Nation? French and Irish Workers and Trade Unions in Past EU Referendum Debates," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 56(3), pages 656-678, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:56:y:2018:i:3:p:656-678
    DOI: 10.1111/bjir.12303
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