Because Euroculture is devoted to understanding issues where society, culture and politics meet and interact, no single discipline is enough! The first semester of the Euroculture programme is devoted to an interdisciplinary introduction to core concepts and central topics for understanding modern European society through disciplines including history, political science, law, sociology, and religious studies. Below is a brief overview of these core concepts.
Constructing and Contesting European Institutions
The core European institutions consist of the Council, the European Parliament (EP), the Commission, and the European Court of Justice (ECJ). A major research question concerns the logic of their interaction: Is the European Union dominated by member states´ interests (intergovernmentalism), or is there a distinct logic that gives the integration project a momentum of its own and benefits supranational actors (supranationalism)?
The institutions are also vital for the legitimacy of the European integration project, in terms of their responsiveness to societal input, and in terms of the quality of policies they produce.
Cultural Diffraction of Europe
When addressing ‘cultural diffraction’, we deal with different understandings of ‘culture’ and its relevance on the political and social level. Discussing ‘culture’ thus means to discuss questions of religion, diversity (multi-, inter-, transculturality), cosmopolitanism, postcolonialism, (supra-)nationality and globalization. Dealing with ‘cultural diffraction’ also means to look into the many ways that Europe is represented in media and arts, both within Europe and beyond.
Historicising European Multiplicity
There is not – and presumably cannot be – one common ‘European identity’. Europe can rather be understood as a project that is always in the making. It includes inner-European processes as well as interaction with other parts of the world. Both have to be taken into account, as they provide for a constant renegotiating of the very meaning of ‘Europe’. This also means that mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion and belonging to ‘Europe’ are being constantly renegotiated. We hereby understand Europeanness as a fluid concept which includes the Social as well as Cultural and Political. In trying to understand ‘European multiplicity’, we look into the discourse on ‘European Identity’ and ‘citizenship’ in Europe.
Political Integration, Disintegration and Conflict
The question of political integration, disintegration and conflict starts at the societal level with different preferences that citizens have about national and European political outcomes. For a long time, the main assumption about public opinion was that European integration is governed by a “permissive consensus”, however, current scholarships argues that this has given way to a “constraining dissensus”. The major phenomena currently characterising the interaction of societal preferences and party strategies seem to be populism and euroscepticism. That is, parties of both the left and the right see electoral gains in arguing against European integration.