A European Way of Political Legitimacy? The European Central Bank and its Investments in Scientific Authority

Antoine Vauchez, Stéphanie Mudge

The paper questions ECB's deep investments in scientific prestige and scholarly productivity-that is, its hyper-scientization-and the ambiguities therein, and then sets out to explain them. Using diverse sources that include official documents, on-site interviews, and comparative data, we argue that hyper-scientization is a field effect expressing the ECB's origins and cross-location in three worlds: financial institutions, professional economics, and European politics. We then trace out the signs and symptoms of cross-location. First, we trace the origins of the ECB's directorate for research, DGR, which differentiated the ECB from most other European central banks at the time of its founding. Thus invested, the ECB accelerated its scholarly activities in-step with the internationalization and scientization of economics. But this also expressed the ECB's stake in European authority struggles: research exchanges are a means of building relationships with national central banks, which was especially crucial in the lead-up to the European Union's (EU) 2004 enlargement. We thus argue that there is more to the ECB than its independence and policy operations, and that some of its most striking features are best explained as effects of its multiple field locations.

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