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Session Overview
SP06: (Un)Making Europe
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Kathrin Komp, Helsinki University
Location: PC.1.7
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 1.
Semi-Plenary 06 with Stefan Immerfall and Kostas Maronitis.

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Keeping Unity, Preserving Diversity: European Possibilities Beyond Integration Overextension

Stefan Immerfall

University of Education at Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany

How to stop Europe drifting apart? To simplify, two therapies to get out of this quagmire circulate: “less Europe” and “more Europe”.

There are serious problems with both visions. “Less Europe” could mean little or no Europe in the end. As Prime Minster Cameron’s botched referendum strategy aptly demonstrated, opening up Pandora’s Box of public sentiment may easily backfire. The second proposal is even less likely. European politicians are understandably loath to put any constitutional change before the electorate. Implementing a financial and social redistribution system of any serious size would cause massive opposition.

My presentation takes a distinct sociological approach for analysing the European integration crisis. Such an approach focuses on the societal basis of European integration and on the relationship between societal and political integration. It is heavily indebted to historical comparativists like Stein Rokkan and their work on the structuring of territorial politics. How, then, to strike a balance between the needs of diversity and the need to form a coherent whole?

The European Union is a union of nation-states with long and variegated histories which continue to show in welfare institutions, economic styles and political cultures. A unified regulatory scheme does not comply with the historically entrenched diversity between Europe’s macro-historical regions and the lingering power of its nation-states as a locus of attachment. The task is to organize integration on the basis of Europe's diversity and not against its diversity. Examples of flexible rules, strategies and institutions to accommodate European diversities will be discussed.


Stefan Immerfall is Professor of Sociology at the University of Education at Schwäbisch Gmünd and founding Director of its Master Program on Intercultural Studies. He has taught at the Universities of Passau, Mannheim, Grand Valley (Michigan, USA) and North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA). His main research interests cover education, health and well-being, and comparative social and economic analyses. Immerfall’s book publications include the "Handbook of European Societies. Social Transformations in the 21st Century" (with Göran Therborn) and “Freizeit” (“Leisure”, with Barbara Wasner). He currently works on the revised edition of his textbook "Europa - politisches Einigungswerk und gesellschaftliche Entwicklung" [Europe - political unification and social developments].

Is this the End of Federalism? The Immigration Crisis and the Remaking of Europe

Kostas Maronitis

Leeds Trinity University, United Kingdom

This presentation argues for a new theoretical framework regarding the emerging structure of the EU through the prism of the current immigration crisis.

Greece provides the empirical material for this paper. Located at the borderlands of the EU, Greece occupies a strange position between federalism and inward looking social formations where membership depends on blood relations. Drawing on policy documents (Dublin Regulation; Refugee Centres and Hotspots; Refugee Relocation System) and on the political rhetoric of sovereignty and border control the paper introduces the concept of Europia. Europia shifts the debate from the binary of Federalists and Eurosceptics to the capacity of immigration to create utopian and dystopian visions about the European project. Europia exists between the sociological analysis of immigration and an imaginary future of the EU viewed through the prism of hope and crisis. As a result, Europia serves as an analytical tool for a series of actions and mentalities concerning the way immigration authorities construct dystopian environments for immigrants and refugees; the way states understand cultural homogeneity as a political utopia; the way the arrival and presence of immigrants contributes to a dystopia of a torn social fabric; and the way immigrants and asylum seekers view Europe as a utopia of prosperity, rule of law, and freedom.

The presentation concludes by arguing for a renewed understanding of European citizenship independent of national belonging that will ultimately democratize the EU.


Kostas Maronitis is Lecturer in politics and media at Leeds Trinity University, UK. His research interests focus on the political theory and policies of immigration and European integration. He has published articles on immigrant detention and human rights, networks of protest, cosmopolitanism and citizenship, the politics of fear, and diasporic cultural practices. Kostas Maronitis is the author of the book Postnationalism and the Challenges to European Integration in Greece: The Transformative Power of Immigration (2016) published by Palgrave McMillan.

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