European Studies and the Theory of International Relations


The paper introduces the reader to the most important theoretical approaches to European integration and critically discusses them in turn. The underlying goal of the text is to alert the reader to the fact that any understanding of the EU invariably relies on theoretical assumptions and thus all disciplinary debates are theory-driven. The first section of the article deals with the early debate between neofunctionalism and intergovernmentalism. The second section turns to one of the most important recent rationalist approaches to the EU - liberal intergovernmentalism. The third section presents a critique of state-centered approaches as developed by the multi¬level governance approach. The fourth section turns to new institutionalism and policy-networks analysis. The fifth section discusses the contemporary sociological turn in the field of international relations and European studies. The paper concludes with two sections discussing the main current theoretical controversy within European studies - the debate between rationalism and constructivism. The paper also speculates about the future direction of European studies.

European Studies; Theories of international relations; neofunctionalism; intergovernmentalism.




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