Two sides to every story(teller): competition, continuity and change in narratives of European integration

Quincy Cloet

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The word ‘narrative’ has gained prevalence in the vocabulary of European politics and European Union (EU) studies in recent years. Enduring questions about the history, purpose and finality of the European integration process now fall within the scope of the narrative turn: narratives underpinning political discourses and intellectual writings about European integration are increasingly being scrutinised. Yet few of these types of narrative have been put into a longitudinal perspective, in order to address elements of change and continuity in their construction and diffusion of narratives. This article presents a historical survey of the twentieth century, looking at political and intellectual types of narration. This highlights the value of a competitive model for narratives of European integration. Whereas hegemonic narratives are rare, new and competing narratives appear as the norm in the majority of political debates about Europe during the twentieth century, from the interwar antecedents until present-day discussions about the EU. This article questions the singular replacement of an ‘old’ by a ‘new’ narrative and provides evidence for a degree of continuity in how narratives present themselves in diverse forms, as constructions and reproductions of political realities, intellectual thought, and the European past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-306
JournalJournal of Contemporary European Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 03 Jul 2017


  • narratives
  • European integration
  • European Union
  • narration
  • history


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