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European Discourses on managing the Greek crisis: denial, distancing and blaming

Papadimitriou, D. & Zartaloudis, S. (2014) “European Discourses on managing the Greek crisis: denial, distancing and blaming”, Political Studies Association, 23 April.


Since the outbreak of the Eurozone crisis much attention has focused on the deficiencies of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and its effects on member states’ politics. Here we present some key findings of an ongoing research project which tries to examine an often neglected aspect of the Eurozone’s recent troubles; that is, the evolution of European discourses on the ‘rescue’ of Greece. We focus our analysis predominantly on discourses by senior EU officials, rather than the wider public debate on the fate of Greece which also included the media and other more specialised epistemic communities. We draw evidence from an extensive dataset of media reports from one of the largest databases on EU affairs, Euroactiv, and other leading European newspapers.

Our analysis is grounded on the conceptual literature of Discursive Institutionalism (DI), focusing, in particular, on the distinction between coordinative (i.e. the discourse used by political actors to coordinate their actions and ideas in order to produce policies) and communicative (i.e. the discourse whereby political actors legitimise the selected policies to the public/electorate) discourse, as contributors of a master discourse which shapes the direction of policy adjustment. We also employ the concepts of critical juncture (i.e. path-breaking policy departure) and critical moment (windows of opportunity facilitating change) as a means of assessing the timing and magnitude of such policy change.


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