This recently published article comes out of my Guggenheim Fellowship project on the rise of populism. It builds on existing scholarship on populism while shifting the lens to focus on the ideational and discursive dynamics of populist power.
“The Discursive Construction of Discontent: Varieties of Populist Anti-System Ideas and Discursive Interactions in Europe.” Journal of European Integration published online (February 2022)
A piece I wrote for the French journal Politique Étrangère, which is published by the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI), appeared in the winter 2021 issue. It compares the problematic policies of the European Union during the Eurozone Crisis with the more promising responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Gouvernance économique : l’UE entre erreurs passées et promesses d’avenir,” Politique Étrangère no. 4 (2021): 95-109.
On Friday, November 12, I gave an online talk entitled “The Power of Ideas in Capitalism Transformations and the Democratic Backlash.” My talk was based on a paper to be published in the journal Stato e Mercato for the 40th anniversary of the journal. My main focus was on how to explain the resilience of neo-liberal ideas since the 1980s, its impact on democratic capitalism, and whether it would remain the paradigm in the future. I began with theorizing about the nature of the resilience and power of neo-liberal ideas and discourse. I next explored the powerful role of resilient neo-liberal ideas and discourse in the neo-liberal transformations the 1980s, the 1990s, the 2000s, and during the Eurozone crisis. I then considered what neoliberalism wrought in terms of the deep changes in capitalist structures, institutions, and policies brought about by the neo-liberal project. I followed with the rise of alternatives ideas, first with the populist democratic backlash to the impact of neo-liberal transformations, then with the Covid-19 crisis response that has seemed to put a pause to neoliberalism, with a shift to sustainable and equitable growth. I concluded with an analysis of neoliberalism’s seeming decline in resilience at the moment.
I wrote on the continuing dangers to democracy in the aftermath of the Trump election for the European Progressive Observatory of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies. The article was published Tuesday, November 10, 2020.
Donald Trump has undermined the very essence of the US Presidency. However, he and the current Republican party are not alone responsible for the decline of American democracy. The US is certainly a divided country today, but those divides have been building for a very long time, with a Republican Party open to polarising anti-system politics since the 1990s. Will the Republicans continue to fuel discord, dysfunction, and gridlock, or will they return to some semblance of bipartisanship? Few are the signs that speak for the latter.
Read the rest of the article at the Progressive Post, the political magazine run by the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS).
I have just published an article with Martin Carstensen, Associate Professor at Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, in the Journal of European Public Policy. The article – “Between power and powerlessness in the euro zone crisis and thereafter” – shows how interaction between EU institutional actors is structured by different kinds of power – coercive, institutional and ideational – and argues that none of these are sufficient on their own for actors to successfully drive the reform process.
See my latest article in Social Europe on why after a decade of harsh austerity programs EU must manifest real solidarity – muddling through will not do.
An article that I wrote in 2010 was recently ranked fifth of all articles published in Political Science in the Web of Science citation index between 2010 and 2014 (out of a total of 29,881 articles).
The article, entitled “Taking Ideas and Discourse Seriously: Explaining Change Through Discursive Institutionalism as the Fourth ‘New Institutionalism,” was published in the European Political Science Review in March 2010.
Abstract: All three of the traditionally recognized new institutionalisms – rational choice, historical, and sociological – have increasingly sought to ‘endogenize’ change, which has often meant a turn to ideas and discourse. This article shows that the approaches of scholars coming out of each of these three institutionalist traditions who take ideas and discourse seriously can best be classified as part of a fourth ‘new institutionalism’ – discursive institutionalism (DI) – which is concerned with both the substantive content of ideas and the interactive processes of discourse in institutional context. It argues that this newest of the ‘new institutionalisms’ has the greatest potential for providing insights into the dynamics of institutional change by explaining the actual preferences, strategies, and normative orientations of actors. The article identifies the wide range of approaches that fit this analytic framework, illustrating the ways in which scholars of DI have gone beyond the limits of the traditional institutionalisms on questions of interests and uncertainty, critical junctures and incremental change, norms and culture. It defines institutions dynamically – in contrast to the older neo-institutionalisms’ more static external rule-following structures of incentives, path-dependencies, and cultural framing – as structures and constructs of meaning internal to agents whose ‘background ideational abilities’ enable them to create (and maintain) institutions while their ‘foreground discursive abilities’ enable them to communicate critically about them, to change (or maintain) them. But the article also points to areas for improvement in DI, including the theoretical analysis of processes of ideational change, the use of the older neo-institutionalisms for background information, and the incorporation of the power of interests and position into accounts of the power of ideas and discourse.
My thoughts on how the challenges facing the EU from populism, and how progressives can fight back, in particular by rethinking how to do with governance of the Euro and how to re-envision the EU:
In recent years, the European Union has suffered through a cascading set of crises, including the Eurozone crisis, the refugee crisis, the security crisis, and Brexit. But rather than bringing the EU together, with concerted responses that would demonstrate its common values on its 60th anniversary, these crises have revealed cross cutting divisions among member states. What’s more, they have been accompanied by major crises of politics and democracy for the EU as well as its member states.
At EU level, questions are increasingly raised not only about the (lack of) effectiveness in solving the various crises but also democratic legitimacy. The causes are EU governance processes characterized by the predominance of closed-door political bargains by leaders in the Council and by a preponderance of technocratic decisions by EU officials in the Commission and the European Central Bank, without significant oversight by the European Parliament. At national level, concerns focus on the ways in which the EU’s very existence has diminished elected governments’ authority and control over growing numbers of policies for which they had traditionally been alone responsible, often making it difficult for them to fulfill their electoral promises or respond to their voters’ concerns and expectations.
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