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The Politics of Everyday EuropeConstructing Authority in the European Union$
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Kathleen R. McNamara

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198716235

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198716235.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
The Politics of Everyday Europe

Kathleen R. McNamara

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces a puzzle: how has the European Union come to be a taken-for-granted political authority, despite its novelty as a political actor? After assessing the EU’s surprising expansion into core state capabilities, the approach of other scholars is assessed and found wanting. A new lens on the EU, drawing on the literature on comparative political development and on the role of symbols and practices in creating political culture, can help to reveal the everyday social processes at work legitimating the EU. The chapter overviews the main arguments of the book, specifically the idea of a cultural infrastructure for governance as necessary to naturalize new political authorities and generate political identity, and outlines how this has emerged in the EU case. A discussion of methodological strategies for studying culture concludes the chapter.

Keywords:   European Union, authority, cultural infrastructure, symbols and practices, comparative political development, European identity

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