Social mechanisms and the quality of cooperation: are Europe and the EU really all that different?

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Series Details No.8, 2004
Publication Date 2004
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Drawing upon a multi-faceted understanding of human rationality, this essay highlights the role of three generic social mechanisms - strategic calculation, cognitive role playing and normative suasion - in promoting differing degrees of cooperation within international institutions. I focus in particular on the last, persuasive, mechanism and its ability to bring about deep cooperation - that is, preference or identity shift - in contemporary Europe. A growing body of empirical work suggests that, while Europe is different when it comes to the workings of its regional institutions, it is not as different as some of the headline stories suggest. Indeed, at the elite level, we see little evidence of bureaucrats and policymakers 'going native' when working in EU institutions, while, more generally, the emergence of a distinctly European identity, spurred by regional institutions, is at best a distant prospect.

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