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.
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