Symbolism in European integration

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Series Details Vol.9, No.3, July 2011 p243-268
Publication Date July 2011
ISSN 1472-4790
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The role of symbolism in European integration provides one way of answering Craig Calhoun's 2003 call in Comparative European Politics for a means of transcending specific regimes of analysis in order to advance European studies. The article argues that our understanding of the integration process and the constitution of the European Union (EU) is furthered by broadly studying symbolic forms in a multiperspectival way. In contrast to much emphasis on heroic symbolic icons, the article studies more banal processes of symbolic construction that provide a deeper understanding of the symbolisation of European integration and enrich European studies more broadly.

The article sets out how such processes could include the roles of physical icons such as maps or places, performative rituals such as days or museums, or discursive taboos such as mottos or texts. In this way the study of symbolism in European integration suggests a means of understanding how the EU becomes constituted as a political reality – how it is ‘always already there and still in formation’.

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