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What is the EU?

International Sociology, June 2005

21 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2006  

Jozsef Borocz

Rutgers University

Mahua Sarkar

Binghamton University


This interpretive article relies on insights from three critical literatures - world-systems analysis, postcolonial studies and, to the extent of an extended simile, the economic sociology of flexible global production - to propose a geopolitical understanding of what the European Union (EU) is. The authors begin by interrogating the tendency within much of the current research and commentary on the EU to treat it as a state of sorts. They then outline some mechanisms - pertaining to its internal and external linkage structures - that have enabled the EU to perform successfully in a geopolitical context where most of the main actors are states. Finally, drawing on critical insights from the sociology of subcontracted production and distributed organization, the authors suggest ways in which the EU, in its current form, might be thought of beyond the constraints of the current theoretical language of statehood.

Keywords: European Union, political economy, colonialism, world-systems analysis, economic sociology, public authority, geopolitics

Suggested Citation

Borocz, Jozsef and Sarkar, Mahua, What is the EU?. International Sociology, June 2005. Available at SSRN:

Jozsef Borocz (Contact Author)

Rutgers University ( email )

Dept of Sociology
26 Nichol Ave
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
United States

Mahua Sarkar

Binghamton University ( email )

Binghamton, NY 13902
United States

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