Social Forces in the Making of the New Europe: The Restructuring of European Social Relations in the Global Political Economy

By Andreas Bieler; Adam David Morton | Go to book overview

4
The Struggle over European Order:
Transnational Class Agency in
the Making of ‘Embedded
Neo-Liberalism’ 1

Bastiaanvan Apeldoorn


Introduction

This chapter presents an analysis of transnational social forces in the making of what is interpreted as a new European socio-economic order emerging out of the relaunching of the European integration process of the 1980s and 1990s. This transnational struggle over European order is seen as taking place within the context of a changing global political economy in which the social relations of capitalist production are increasingly constituted beyond the nation-state. As the editors stress in their introduction, it is only by putting the process of European integration within a global context that one can fully capture present dynamics and see how that process has been bound up with a transnational restructuring of European state–society relations. This has, in turn, involved a transformation of the historical bloc underpinning the European project. In this perspective, European change is seen as linked to global change through the mediating agency of transnational social forces, understood as collective actors whose identities, interests and strategies take shape within a changing global structural context, and who struggle over the direction and content of the European integration process.

In this chapter, I thus conceive of the European integration process as a struggle between transnational social forces. This struggle may express itself ideologically, or on what Gramsci called the ‘universal plane’ of hegemony ( Gramsci, 1971: 182), in the form of rival ‘projects’ contending for the construction of European order. On the one hand, these projects serve as rallying points around which disparate actors may coalesce into broad transnational coalitions. On the other hand, they are also

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