Self or Other? The Eurozone Crisis in British Discourse

  • Abstract:

    Britain has long been known as the ‘reluctant European’ and as the EU’s ‘awkward partner’, at first not wanting to join the European Communities at all, later opting out of the Euro and frequently objecting to further transfers of power to Brussels. In this context, this paper examines cross-party British political discourse on the current Eurozone crisis with the aim of identifying if there has been a fundamental change in British attitudes to the EU since the onset of the crisis. From a social constructivist point of view, social identities tend to be more open to change at times of crisis, known as critical junctures.(Marcussen et al, 1999: 5). It has frequently been noted, for instance, that the eurozone crisis has also been a crisis of European identity, with increased antagonism including a revival of old stereotypes between Northern and Southern Eurozone members (e.g. Droumpouki, 2013), and a general increase in Euroscepticism in public opinion across the EU. On this basis, then, a form of discourse analysis based on Foucault’s concept of discourse and developed by Copenhagen School researchers such as Wæver ans Larsen is used in an attempt to establish whether the current crisis has had an important effect on British discursive attitudes to the EU. The paper aims to explore the discussion of the Eurozone crisis in British political/media discourse through the lens of Foreign Policy Discourse Analysis, based on the work of Foucault. The paper examines how traditional discourse on state and nation and on Britain’s relationship to Europe/ the EU is reflected in contemporary debate on the Eurozone crisis.