I am delighted to share that my book, Europe’s Crisis of Legitimacy: Governing by Rules and Ruling by Numbers in the Eurozone, received the Best Book Award 2021 from the American Political Science Association’s Ideas, Knowledge and Politics Section.
Schmidt’s subject is the Eurozone crisis, which revealed the fragility of the EU’s technocratic institutions (which she pithily summarizes as suppliers of “policy without politics”). As Greece crept towards a default on its sovereign debts in 2010, the EU’s principal decision-making bodies (the European Council, which consists of the various heads of EU member states, and the European Commission, which proposes and implements EU policy) imposed a rigid prescription of bridging loans and austerity requirements. However, Political Epistemology 42 Fall 2021 • No. 1 the effects of this rigidity were dire: financial market speculation over Greece’s debts not only failed to recede, but spread to other peripheral economies. Meanwhile, political divisions within the EU intensified, and what had been a general apathy among EU citizens about the supernational body in many cases morphed into outright hostility. In response, Schmidt argues, EU leaders relaxed the policies that had catalyzed the crisis in its early years. However, despite apparently better policy outcomes, these leaders continued to profess their adherence to “neoliberal” orthodoxy. The moralized language of profligacy and prudence that they had employed in 2010 to justify their rigidity had itself become a constraint on their political agency. Thus, when they finally acknowledged their reinterpretations of their rules in 2015, the EU’s figureheads appeared confused (if not dishonest) rather than victorious. Rather than settling the controversies surrounding the EU’s constitutional and political basis, they had in fact exacerbated them. By setting out to save the euro (albeit from a seemingly negligible threat), they had imperiled it.
The political epistemologist will find much of value in Schmidt’s thorough account. Her analysis is impressively ecumenical, drawing on political theory as well as economics, IR, and comparative politics. But, in common with her previous studies of the EU, Schmidt’s main method is interpretive. The constraints established by the leading figures at the onset of the crisis (inter alia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet, and EC president José Manuel Barroso) were fundamentally discursive. Moreover, Schmidt does an excellent job of showing that the various conceptions of legitimacy to which these figures oriented themselves were entirely ideational—and thus intangible. Early in the crisis, policymakers may have thought that they were generating sufficiently good “outputs” that the lack of democratic “inputs” didn’t matter. However, even when they did materialize, the “outputs” policymakers favored did not match those expected by voters. This led to changes in what Schmidt calls the “throughput” of the policy process—the ways in which policy is generated and citizens are, or are not, included. The bulk of Schmidt’s account is addressed to these changes, which followed dramatic shifts in power and epistemic authority as economic conditions in the periphery deteriorated. Crucially, she shows that despite their apparently salutary effects, it is far from clear that these changes will be sufficient to address the EU’s lack of democratic (input) legitimacy. Despite the discursive churn, policymakers had not (before the pandemic, at least) relinquished the idea of rigid rules and numbers, even if the content of those rules and numbers had changed. There may be good reason for this: given the technocratic discourses and expectations baked into the EU’s identity, any fundamental change might lead to more, not less conflict. Yet if elite ideas do not calibrate with those of ordinary voters, conflict may be unavoidable. Either way, Schmidt’s analysis suggests, the EU’s democratic crisis is nothing less than a crisis of ideas.
I am thrilled that Europe’s Crisis of Legitimacy: Governing by Rules and Ruling by Numbers in the Eurozone (OUP 2020) was awarded an Honorable Mention for the best book of 2021 by the European Union Studies Association (EUSA).
My congratulations to Christina J. Schneider, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego, who received the top prize for The Responsive Union: National Elections and European Governance (Cambridge University Press, 2019).
We will be honored in person at EUSA’s Biennial Meeting in May 2022.
I have just been awarded an Honorary Professorship in the Department of Political Science at LUISS Guido Carli University in Rome, for a three-year term. I was very surprised and pleased to receive this unexpected honor. In Europe, to be named Honorary Professor is one of the most prestigious awards a University can grant to someone who is not a member of their faculty. It signals their appreciation of a person’s scholarship along with interest in maintaining close ties with them in both research and teaching venues. I have already been a visiting professor at LUISS in the School of Government for a number of years, conducting a short-term seminar in Rome once a year in late spring. This takes the relationship to a new level for the next three years. I am truly honored, and delighted!
I am thrilled to share that I have been named as one of the 100 currently most-cited scholars, the 25 most-cited in my PhD cohort, and the 40 most-cited women scholars by PS: Political Science & Politics, one of the American Political Science Association’s official journals.
The Political Science 400 “identifies the 400 most highly cited scholars in the profession who are currently teaching at PhD-granting departments in the United States, with their primary appointment in that department, by tallying the citations to lifetime bodies of work in all journals and books. It includes citation data from when scholars began receiving citations to their most recent work.”
You can read the full article here.
I’m thrilled to announce that on Friday May 10, I was awarded the European Union Studies Association’s Lifetime Contribution Award, which is conferred on a scholar once every two years at the Association’s biannual meeting—this year in Denver, Colorado. The association is the largest such association bringing together scholars who work on the European Union. The award honors a scholar in the field of EU studies whose lifetime of research and writing have been important, enduring, and widely felt influences on EU scholarship.
There was also a keynote panel on Saturday May 11, assembled to honor my work on the occasion of the lifetime achievement award from EUSA – with Abe Newman, Professor at Georgetown; Kalypso Nicolaidis, Professor at Oxford University; Tanja Börzel, Professor the Free University of Berlin; Alberta Sbragia, Professor at Pittsburgh University; George Ross, Emeritus Professor at Brandeis; and Matthias Matthijs, Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins U.
I have learned that I will be receiving the European Union Studies Association (EUSA) Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 EUSA International Biennial Conference in Denver next May.
The plenary honoring Schmidt at the conference will include Tanja Börzel (Freie Universität Berlin), Matthias Matthijs (Johns Hopkins University), Kalypso Nicolaïdis (University of Oxford), Fritz Scharpf (Max Planck Institute and recipient of the 2007 EUSA Lifetime Achievement Award), George Ross (Université de Montreal and recipient of 2017 EUSA Lifetime Achievement Award), and Alberta Sbragia (University of Pittsburgh and recipient of 2013 EUSA Lifetime Achievement Award).
More information about the prizes can be found here: https://www.eustudies.org/about/eusa-prizes
The Lifetime Achievement Award honors a scholar in the field of EU studies whose lifetime of research and writing have been important, enduring, and widely felt influences on EU scholarship.
I am deeply honored to have been named Chevalier (Knight) in the French Legion of Honor. The prestigious designation, honoring individuals who have contributed to the advancement of French arts and culture, will be presented at a decoration ceremony in the fall of 2018 by Valéry Freland, Consul General of France in Boston.
The French Legion of Honor is an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in May of 1802. It is the highest decoration bestowed in France.
Great news! I was just awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for a book on the ‘rhetoric of discontent,’ a transatlantic investigation of the populist revolt against globalization (and Europeanization).
Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for individuals who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.
Link to Guggenheim Fellows Profile: https://www.gf.org/fellows/all-fellows/vivien-a-schmidt/
Link to article on Pardee School website: Prof. Vivien Schmidt Awarded Guggenheim
I was honored to receive the SWIPE Mentor Award by the International Studies Association in February. The SWIPE Mentor Award pays tribute to women and men who have invested in the professional success of women in the IPE field. Originating in the early 1990s, the Society for Women in International Political Economy (SWIPE) observed that many women in IPE did not have the close mentoring relationships that their male counterparts seemed to benefit from. Indeed, while research across disciplines has shown that mentoring can be key to higher publication rates and successfully achieving tenure, women tend to get less mentoring than men.
I attended the award ceremony during the International Political Economy Section reception at the International Studies Association Annual Meetings in Baltimore between February 22-25, 2017. While in Baltimore, I spoke on the panel: “Mentoring Women in International Political Economy and Honoring SWIPE Award Recipient 2017 Prof. Vivien Schmidt.”
I was awarded a prize for best paper published in BJPIR (the British Journal of Politics and International Relations) 2013, for my paper entitled, “Speaking to the Markets or to the People? A Discursive Institutionalist Analysis of the EU’s Sovereign Debt Crisis.” The prize was announced at the Political Studies Association Annual International Conference, at the conference dinner on the evening of March 31st, 2015 in Sheffield, UK.
The paper argues that the EU’s sovereign debt crisis is not just economic; it is also political, resulting from the failure of EU leaders to offer solutions that calm the markets and convince the people. These failures stem from problems with EU leaders’ ideas about how to solve the crisis as well as their communication about them. That communication encompasses not just EU leaders talking to one another in negotiations of crisis solutions but also speaking to “the markets’ and to ‘the people’ about those solutions, all of which may interact in perverse ways. My article uses the analytic framework of “discursive institutionalism” to consider the different forms, types, levels, rates and mechanisms of change in ideas followed by the EU leaders’ discursive interactions in the “coordinative” discourse and their “communicative discourse” to the global markets and European publics. It uses a range of country cases, but in particular Germany and France, in illustration.