Academic work on the EU tends to fall short of the role traditionally assumed by the social sciences, namely that of articulating concepts that render the social world intelligible to those who inhabit it, in this case European citizens. As part of a ‘pragmatic turn’ taken in the late 1970s, the focus of European studies has shifted from asking ontological questions about the nature of the EU to studying individual institutions and policy areas. This has generated a great deal of valuable empirical material but has left the academic field fragmented, overspecialized, and dominated by technical jargon. The introduction makes the case for approaching European integration from the perspective of state transformation. This approach can help us both grasp the specificity of the EU in empirical terms and bring to EU studies insights from historical, sociological, and theoretical work done on the state in other subfields of social science.
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