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 Unions 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.
Chapter 5: Introduction: Theorizing European Foreign Policy
Introduction: Theorizing European Foreign Policy
If the endeavour is rigorous theory-informed analysis rather than descriptive study then we need theories to guide us through the piles of data that call for our attention but do not speak for themselves. Moreover, we need guidance vis-à-vis the continuous flow of media reports that highlight spectacular events but not necessarily the grey behind-the-scenes processes. We should acknowledge the fact that the same empirical event can be interpreted in different ways and that theories help us identify relevant perspectives. We also need theories to identify causal mechanisms, strategies for interpreting essentially contested concepts (and other concepts) and ways to understand the normative superstructure of social reality, including ...