PO 352 - Europe Beyond the Nation State

As the international system changes after the Cold War, the relevance of nation states is increasingly called into question, particularly in the context of the process of European Integration. The European Union constitutes a new form of large political entity which is difficult to understand even for its practitioners. Usually it is maintained that it constitutes a completely new phenomenon, a unique type of political regime. Most scholars of the EU proceed from this assumption describing in great detail the ever growing body of EU regulations and increasing number of European supranational institutions.

Increasingly, however, some scholars and even some politicians realize that a better understanding of the European integration process can be reached by putting it into a comparative perspective. Such comparisons could be historical, looking at previous union or imperial experiences, or theoretical, developing visions for Europe’s future. While unions are formed on a voluntary basis, empires are based on the exercise of different forms of political power. Both models are not mutually exclusive. Systems may for example originate as unions and develop into empires. Combining approaches of political theory, of the history of international relations. and of modern comparative political science, this course will try to look into and discuss these and related questions. Included are site visits and group work with Austrian students highlighting Central European political experiences.

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Political Science

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