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Conceptualising the EU's social constituency


  • John Erik Fossum


The EU is often labelled a unique entity. This assertion is more the product of assessments of its institutional character than on the nature of its social constituency, i.e. the structure of demands and expectations that citizens and groups place on the EU. Determining the character of the latter is important both for our understanding of the EU as polity and for the question of the democratic deficit. It is also theoretically interesting given the increased focus on recognition politics, not only in nation-states but also transnationally. The main purpose of this article is to provide a conceptual-methodological framework with a set of structured tests to help ascertain the nature of the EU’s social constituency. To this end, a framework has been devised, which combines a philosophical approach to recognition with a sociological approach to contentiouspolitics. Central to this framework is Axel Honneth’s notion of ‘recognition order’, and the article briefly examines whether the EU might be said to make up a unique recognition order.

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  • John Erik Fossum, 2004. "Conceptualising the EU's social constituency," ARENA Working Papers 16, ARENA.
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:arenax:p0033

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    polity building; normative political theory; legitimacy; deliberative democracy;

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