Tom Beyer

+49 381 498 - 8465
Universitätsplatz 5, 18055 Rostock

Power of Interpretation (Deutungsmacht) in Europe: The Mythical Deficit of the European Union and the Political Myth in Late Modernity

At present the European Union has a mythical deficit, which is, at least partially, responsible for the EU’s often described lack of proximity to citizens and the accompanying bottleneck of legitimation. Today's political myths are noticeably weakening national monomyths, rising late modern grand narratives, notably the globalization myth, and an increasing number of myths of medium and small range. In this context, “Europe“ is subject to different interpretations, i.e. mythical narratives of different agents that compete in a conflict over power of interpretation. (Deutungsmachtkonflikt).

The dissertation project aims at investigating mythical narratives concerning European integration and their acceptance. Using discourse analysis and various sources, for instance media texts and speeches of national as well as European key agents or the recently conceptualized “House of European History“, relevant narratives will be identified. The study primarily focuses on the period from the 2004 Eastern Enlargement to the present. This allows to examine the influence of the Eastern European nations on the integration narratives.

Parallel to the study of particular myths, the EU in general will serve as a contemporary and sociopolitically relevant case study in order to survey the overall change of political myths in late modernity – for example the increasingly complex “work on myth“ („Arbeit am Mythos“ – Blumenberg) and the growing pluralism of interpretation. In this regard, the role of ideology and its relation to late modern political myth gain importance because both the left as well as the right political spectrum can relate to the narratives of European integration. However, as might be expected, their interpretations vary.