Normative Power Europe or Capability–expectations Gap? The Performativity of Concepts in the Study of European Foreign Policy

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Series Details Volume 58, Number 4, Pages 962-977
Publication Date July 2020
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This article argues that the view that theories are constitutive of their object of study is useful for reflecting on the role of theories in the analysis of European foreign policy. A key concept used to study the constitutive role of theories is performativity. The article illustrates its relevance through a study of the use of the concept of a capability–expectations gap.

On the basis of this study, the article also makes the point that research on European foreign policy does not unambiguously construct the EU as an ideal power Europe (of which normative power Europe is a part), as the use of the capability–expectations gap concept does not draw on the ideal power Europe discourse. The concept is mainly used as a critical label to describe EU foreign policy and applications of the concept end up by concluding that the EU is an international actor with quasi‐permanent shortcomings.

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