During the last two decades the study of European foreign policy has experienced remarkable growth, presumably reflecting a more significant international role of the European Union. The Union has significantly expanded its policy portfolio and though empty symbolic politics still exists, the Union’s international relations have become more substantial and its foreign policy more focused. European foreign policy has become a dynamic policy area, being adapted to changing challenges and environments, such as the Arab Spring, new emerging economies/powers; the crisis of multilateralism and much more. The SAGE Handbook of European Foreign Policy, Two-Volume set, is a major reference work for Foreign Policy Programmes around the world. The Handbook is designed to be accessible to graduate and postgraduate students in a wide variety of disciplines across the humanities and social sciences. Both volumes are structured to address areas of critical concern to scholars at the cutting edge of all major dimensions of foreign policy. The volumes are composed of original chapters written specifically to the following themes: • Research traditions and historical experience • Theoretical perspectives• EU actors• State actors• Societal actors• The politics of European foreign policy• Bilateral relations• Relations with multilateral institutions• Individual policies• Transnational challenges The Handbook will be an essential reference for both advanced students and scholars.

Critical Approaches to European Foreign Policy1

Critical approaches to European foreign policy
Aasne Kalland Aarstad

Introduction

If ‘critical’ is seen as the antithesis to ‘uncritical’ then the social sciences, including the study of European foreign policy, are by definition critical endeavours.

In parallel with the understanding of critical as a rigorous character trait of academic research, however, critical has also come to mean a more narrow and targeted approach to the study of social and political affairs. The extent to which it is possible to draw a clear line between these two conceptualizations of critical research remains tenuous, but it is widely agreed that an important body of critical approaches in the social sciences exists as a project in its own right. ...

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