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Identity, Legitimacy, and Discourses - the Political Significance of Mythical Narratives of and in EUrope

S. Anne G. Bostanci

A recent special issue of the Journal for Common Market Studies focused on the European Union's political myths (No. 1, Vol. 48, 2010). Acknowledging an inherentlypolitical, yet simultaneously cultural, object of study, this has opened up a new focus within the study of the European Union, which allows for the exploration ofpolitically relevant culturalist ideas. Fundamental questions of political theoretical engagement as well as innovative methodological approaches can be brought into themainstream of a field that has long been shaped by rationalist, positivist ontology, and empiricist, often comparative, epistemology. The present paper welcomes thesenew opportunities. It proposes a discursive constructionist approach to the study of the EU that is neither constrained by intergovernmentalist theoretical commitmentsnor advanced by supranationalist normative ideas. From the perspective of a 'back to the basics' starting point that establishes links to fundamental concepts of politicalsciences, such as legitimacy, identity and ideology, it complements some of the features of EU political myth already identified in the 2010 special issue of the JCMS. Indoing so, it touches on the political role of discourse in the creation of identity and legitimacy and, consequently, the uses of methods of discourse analysis in the studyof political entities including the EU.

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