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Pathos and Patina: The Failure and Promise of Constitutionalism in the European Imagination


  • Ulrich Haltern


Legal studies react to the Union’s social legitimacy deficit either by funneling the problem into empirical sociology (accompanied by the familiar call for more transparency and democracy), or by ignoring it altogether. This article argues that the crisis in social acceptance can be traced back to the texture of EU law. Law is more than a body of rules: It is a social practice, a structure of meaning, and a system of beliefs. In this light, national law has a richly textured cushion of cultural resources to rely on, which makes it ours. In contrast, EU law embodies the fluid surface of consumer identity and appears less ours. The Union’s counter-measures – adding pathos and patina to neutralize our distrust – have proven unsuccessful. The way out, then, is coming to terms with the market citizen, rather than believing in, and forcing upon the consumer, stories of shared values and historically situated commonality.

Suggested Citation

  • Ulrich Haltern, 2002. "Pathos and Patina: The Failure and Promise of Constitutionalism in the European Imagination," The Constitutionalism Web-Papers p0026, University of Hamburg, Faculty for Economics and Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Institute of Political Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:conweb:p0026

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    Cited by:

    1. Jim Davies, 2009. "Entrenchment of New Governance in Consumer Policy Formulation: A Platform for European Consumer Citizenship Practice?," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 32(3), pages 245-267, September.

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    legitimacy; European law; constitution building; polity building; identity;

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