The Societal Function of European Integration in the Context of World Society
Soziale Systeme, Zeitschrift für Soziologische Theorie, Vol. 13, Nos. 1- 2, pp. 367-378, 2007
7 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2010
Date Written: 2007
In the European setting, non-legal and non-political functional systems, such as economy and science, have increasingly substituted their structural couplings with the legal and political systems in the nation state form with couplings to the European Union (EU). A central reason for this is that the couplings to the EU are less tight than the national couplings, thereby granting a higher degree of autonomy to the non-legal and non-political systems. The reason for the reduced tightness of European couplings when compared with national couplings should be found in the internal structure of the EU. Although the EU possess a number of features which gives it a state like character, the EU should rather be understood as a conglomerate which bundles a whole range of rationality forms in a horizontal manner. The central societal contribution and function of the EU’s political system is thus to reduce asymmetric relations between a multiplicity of functional differentiated spheres of society rather than producing substantial unity. Consequently, and in contrast to the political system in the nation state form, the EU does not describe itself as a system which is superior to other functional systems.
Keywords: European integration, world society, functional differentiation, systems theory, constitutionalization, rationality, Luhmann, Europe, structural coupling, globalization, governance, complexity, sociology of law, political sociology
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