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Stephanie Mudge receives France-Berkeley Fund Grant

Stephanie Lee Mudge (UC-Davis), Antoine Vauchez (CNRS-CESSP) received a one year grant for their research "When Theory Matters: Law, Economics and the Scholarly Production of Europe 1990-2010.

Amidst the current political turmoil around the Eurozone, an especially heated debate centers on the monetarist orthodoxy of the European Central Bank (ECB) and, in particular, the unwillingness of central bankers to consider a more interventionist role—a debate that goes to the very heart of Europe's basic economic purposes. Specificity of the current crisis notwithstanding, debate over fundamental meanings has been a stable feature of Europe's uneven institutional trajectory, rendering 1960s “Europe” a qualitatively different entity than, for instance, the Europe of the 1980s, or of the present age. What are the major causal forces shaping Europe's periodic breakdowns and reconstructions? Considering the global implications of Europe's present-day struggles, this is now a critical question.

In-line with existing research, we take the roles of elites and ideas as essential to any answer to this question. Our project is distinctive, however, because we focus on the ways in which law and economics—that is, the same scholarly professions that have long been central to national-level government—are now integral to the production and enactment of models of Europe. For instance, Bela Belassa’s steps of regional economic integration (1961), Ernst Haas’s neo-functionalist theory (1957), and the notions of “governance” and “constitutionalization” are all much more than ivory tower abstractions: they have amounted to both enactable models of Europe and political positions within European politics. Accordingly, we focus on the question of why certain legal and economic ideas of Europe acquire near-commonsensical political authority, while others do not. More specifically, we ask: What has been the relationship between legal and economic scholars and European politics, and how has that relationship helped to shape Europe's governing institutions? To what extent, and under what conditions, has the production of scholarly abstractions led to the emergence of new European agendas and techniques of government?

The co-coordinators of the proposed project have already laid considerable groundwork in an article on the 1960-1990 period entitled “Building Europe on a Weak Field: Law, Economics, and Scholarly Avatars in Transnational Politics,” accepted for publication in the American Journal of Sociology in September 2012. This article establishes the causal importance of scholarly actors' strategic positioning within Europe's governing institutions in two major transformations of Europe: as a “Community of Law” in the 1960s and as a “Single Market” in the 1980s. The France-Berkeley Fund will provide seed money for a new step in this research focused on emergent theories, policy struggles and failed transformative efforts in the 1990-2010 period, supporting the consolidation of a larger network of experienced researchers and PhD-level graduate students collectively aiming to understand the causal linkages between legal and economic scholarly professions and the ongoing constitution of “Europe.”