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Unit 2 Discourses and European Integration

Politics, Culture and Society, 2021/22, Semester 1, 2
Dr Andrew Delatolla
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

Discourse analysis has become a powerful tool to understand how the world as we know it has come into existence. In particular, it focuses on how language constructs and produces particular images of the world rather than simply reflecting reality objectively. This has important implications for the study of politics and culture. Discursive approaches to politics look at how politics is represented in and through language and the effects such representations have. For example, it can show that political rhetoric inherently shapes our perception of what is thinkable and acceptable to say in politics. Political discourses identify certain political issues (and not others) as ‘problems’ and in doing so already exclude somepotential solutions from even being considered. In this learning unit, we will discuss what discourse is, how it operates and how it can be meaningfully applied to politics. Although you are encouraged to think about how discourse can be used in your respective disciplines, we will primarily explore discourses of European integration. In particular, we will look at how discourse can help us understand recent crises and debates in Europe.

Week 8: Lecture: What is discourse?

Mills, S. (2003), Michel Foucault, London: Routledge, chs. 3-4, pp. 53-79.     

Week 9: Lecture: Discourses about European integration

Bickes, H., T. Otten and L. Weymann (2014), ‘The financial crisis in the German and English press: Metaphorical structures in the media coverage on Greece, Spain and Italy’, Discourse & Society, 25:4, 424-445.     

Week 10: Lecture: Discourses within European integration

Krzyżanowski, M. (2019), Brexit and the imaginary of ‘crisis’: a discourse-conceptual analysis of European news media, Critical Discourse Studies, 16:4, 465-490. Available online:     


Week 11: Seminars: Case study – British discourses of Europe

Seminar questions

  • How does discourse shape what can and what cannot be said?

  • What ‘realities’ of Britain and the EU/Europe are constructed and performed in British Eurosceptic discourse?

  • Why have these understandings of the EU/Europe become so persistent?

Seminar readings

Daddow, O. (2015), ‘Performing Euroscepticism: The UK Press and Cameron's Bloomberg Speech’, in: Karine Tournier-Sol and Chris Gifford, eds (2015), The UK Challenge to Europeanization. The Persistence of British Euroscepticism, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 151-171.     

Wodak, R. (2016), ‘“We have the character of an island nation”. A discourse historical analysis of David Cameron’s “Bloomberg Speech” on the European Union’, EUI Working Paper RSCAS 2016/36,, 10-18.     

Zappettini, F. and M. Krzyżanowski (2019), “Brexit" as a Social & Political Crisis: Discourses in Media & Politics. Special Issue, Critical Discourse Studies, Volume 16, Issue 4 (2019),     


Further reading

Anderson, P.J. and T. Weymouth (2014), Insulting the Public? The British Press and the European Union, London: Routledge.

Arrese, A. and Alfonso Vara-Miguel (2016), ‘A comparative study of metaphors in press reporting of the Euro crisis’. Discourse & Society 27:2, 133–155.

Baranowska, Paula (2014), ‘The Coverage of the Eurozone Economic Crisis in the British Press’, Perspectives on European Politics and Society 15.4, 1-18.

Bevir, Mark, Oliver Daddow and Pauline Schnapper, eds (2015), ‘Interpreting British European Policy’, special issue Journal of Common Market Studies 53:1.

Bogain, Ariane (2014), ‘Demons, Ants, Giants and Dwarves: The Construction of Germany’s Handling of the Euro Crisis in French Political Discourse’, Journal of Contemporary European Studies 22:1, 7–23.

Daddow, Oliver (2012), ‘The UK Media and “Europe”: From Permissive Consensus to Destructive Dissent’, International Affairs 88:6, 1219-1236.

Daddow, Oliver (2015), ‘Interpreting the Outsider Tradition in British European Policy Speeches from Thatcher to Cameron’, JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 53:1, 71-88.

Diez, Thomas (2001) ‘Europe as a discursive battleground discourse analysis and European integration studies’, Cooperation and Conflict, 36:1, 5-38.

Foucault, Michel (1991), ‘Politics and the Study of Discourse’, in: Graham Burchell, ed, The Foucault Effect. Studies in Governmental Rationality, Harvester, 53-72.

Hawkins, Benjamin (2012), ‘Nation, Separation and Threat: An Analysis of British Media Discourses on the European Union Treaty Reform Process’. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies, 50:4, 561-577.

Kendell, Gavin and Gary Wickham (1999), Using Foucault’s Methods, London: SAGE. Macmillan, Catherine (2014), ‘The Return of the Reich? A Gothic Tale of Germany and the Eurozone Crisis’, Journal of Contemporary European Studies 22:1, 24-38.

Marcussen, M., Thomas Risse, Daniela Engelmann-Martin, H.J. Knopf and K. Roscher (1999), ‘Constructing Europe? The Evolution of French, British and German Nation State Identities’. Journal of European Public Policy 6: 4, 614–633.

Mascha, Maria Kontochristou Evi (2014), ‘The Euro Crisis and the Question of Solidarity in the European Union: Disclosures and Manifestations in the European Press’, Review of European Studies 6:2. Available online here

Mills, Sara (2004), Discourse, London: Routledge.

Todd, John (2016), ‘Safe to Stand Alone Once More? The Securitization of Europe in British Eurosceptic Discourse’, in: Guri Ellen Barstad, Arnstein Hjelde, Sigmund Kvam, Anastasia Parianou, John Todd, eds, Language and Nation: Crossroads and Connections, Munster: Waxmann, 83-104.

Tournier-Sol, Karine and Chris Gifford, eds. (2015), The UK Challenge to Europeanization. The Persistence of British Euroscepticism, Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Waever, Ole (2009), ‘Discursive approaches’, in: Antje Wiener and Thomas Diez, eds (2009), European Integration Theory, Oxford University Press.

Wodak, Ruth and Jo Angouri, eds (2014), ‘From Grexit to Grecovery: Euro/crisis discourses’, special issue Discourse & Society 25:4.

This list was last updated on 20/10/2021