EU Foreign Policy

Xymena Kurowska

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter aims to sketch currents trends in interpretivist scholarship on the foreign policy of the European Union (EU) and suggest an outline for an interpretivist research agenda in this area. The interpretivist approach adopts an ontological-methodological consistency wherein the social ontology is matched by methodology attuned to the intersubjective enactment of such reality. It thus exposes distinct inconsistencies in the mainstream literature on EU foreign policy which often adopts the constructivist label, but, as I will argue, effectively forecloses an interpretivist inquiry by falling back on positivist research methods. The liberal bias inherent in the concept of ‘the normative power Europe’ has become the usual target for criticism in this respect. It is crucial however to see how the concept is an effect of two underpinning constructs. First, a reductionist conceptualization of identity which pits identity against strategy as an explanatory variable in foreign policy choices, and, second, the definition of norms and their socializing power as necessarily progressive and linear in their evolution. Against this background, the emergent interpretivist scholarship brings healthy dose of critical reshuffling: studies on European foreign policy are not anymore only for (advancing the project of) the EU but they start looking into its conditions of possibility and its contested meanings, within the EU and in its interaction with others. Conceptually, at the core of the establishment of the interpretivist research agenda in the EU foreign policy studies has been the (re-)turn to narrative as both an analytical category and a means of instantiating reflexivity as an interpretivist methodology. This growing sensibility about the inherently contextual and contentious character of knowledge production signals a major shift in the field.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of European Policies:
Subtitle of host publicationInterpretive Approaches to the EU
EditorsHubert Heinelt, Sybille Münch
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
ISBN (Print)978-1784719357, 1784719358
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2018

Publication series

NameHandbooks of Research on Public Policy Series


  • EU foreign policy, narrative, interpretive appraoches


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