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Polanyi in Brussels? Embeddedness and the three dimensions of European economic integration


  • Höpner, Martin
  • Schäfer, Armin


In a recent article, Caporaso and Tarrow have argued that the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is increasingly moving in a social policy direction that will ultimately put European politics on a 'Polanyian' course. We take issue with their claim and distinguish three dimensions of European economic and social integration: market-correcting integration, market-enforcing integration, and the creation of a European area of nondiscrimination, the latter consisting of two subdimensions, namely nondiscrimination on the basis of characteristics such as gender, age, and ethnic origin, on the one hand, and nondiscriminatory transnational access to the social security systems of the member states, on the other. Increased heterogeneity among European varieties of capitalism perpetuates the different ranges and speeds of these integration dimensions. We conclude that the Polanyi-in-Brussels hypothesis is misleading. Politically enforced social integration has not made much progress in the last decades, while market-enforcing integration and European nondiscrimination policies have asymmetrically profited from 'integration through law.' So far, the impact of European integration on political economy has been Hayekian rather than Polanyian.

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  • Höpner, Martin & Schäfer, Armin, 2010. "Polanyi in Brussels? Embeddedness and the three dimensions of European economic integration," MPIfG Discussion Paper 10/8, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgd:p0088

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Beckert, Jens, 2007. "The Great Transformation of Embeddedness: Karl Polanyi and the New Economic Sociology," MPIfG Discussion Paper 07/1, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
    2. Amable, Bruno, 2003. "The Diversity of Modern Capitalism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199261147.
    3. Emiliano Grossman, 2006. "Europeanization as an Interactive Process: German Public Banks Meet EU State Aid Policy," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(2), pages 325-348, June.
    4. Philipp Genschel & Achim Kemmerling & Eric Seils, 2011. "Accelerating Downhill: How the EU Shapes Corporate Tax Competition in the Single Market," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(3), pages 585-606, May.
    5. Eising, Rainer, 2002. "Policy Learning in Embedded Negotiations: Explaining EU Electricity Liberalization," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(01), pages 85-120, December.
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