The European Union (EU) poses quite profound questions for scholars and students of the social and political sciences. This benchmark Handbook is designed to provide an authoritative state-of-the art guide to the scope of the field suitable for both established scholars and students of the EU; reflect and contribute to the debates about the nature of the field of EU studies and EU politics in particular; and explore in detail the development of the many approaches to the study of EU politics. Divided into four sections, the Handbook focuses on theorizing European integration; the EU as polity; politics and policy making in the EU; and the EU and the international system.

Rational Choice and EU Politics

Rational choice and EU politics


Rational choice approaches to politics did not originate in the study of the European Union (EU), nor is ‘rational choice’ as such a theory of European integration or of EU politics.1 Rational choice, like constructivism, should be understood as a broad approach to social theory, capable of generating an array of specific theories and testable hypotheses about a range of human behaviors. Over the past two decades, rational choice theories have made rapid inroads into the study of EU politics, most notably through the application of rational choice institutionalism to the study of EU decision-making. In this Chapter, I provide a brief introduction to rational choice theory, examine the application of rational choice analyses to EU ...

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