Hardening and Softening of Borders in European Integration Enlargement

This project is focused on the 2004 eastern enragement and its implications for internal integration capacity in the European Union. It investigates the enigmatic case of alleged democratic backsliding in Poland to explore the wider trend of norm reversal amongst European Union member states. The project aims to investigate the conditions under which EU conditionality criteria, which were originally theorized to be part of a powerful and affective strategy for rule acceptance and norm adoption in candidate states, has failed to solidify the continued implementation of democratic practices and maintenance of democratic institutions in arguably the Union’s most extreme case. This investigation will explore the political and historical roots of the relationship between Poland and the EU as well as claims that there is an underlying cultural irreconcilability between East and West, which is most conspicuously actualized by the discordant actions being taken by Central and Eastern European member states, such as Poland and Hungary. 

To address these claims, this research will take a multidisciplinary approach, employing cultural and history studies to dissect and understand the role of Polish culture in the EU-Poland relationship and more deeply investigate what EU membership and the inevitable normative changes that have come with it has meant for average Pole. Taking up recent developments in Poland and globally through which it has become clear that the amplification of citizen voices online is of growing importance to understanding societal polarization, social change, and political disquiet, this project also instrumentalizes the online ethnography technique to arrest a glimpse of the potentially diverse citizen voices that form discourse about the EU, democracy, and other crucial themes. The project is designed to confront the circumstances of Europe's past, its current condition, and also ideate on the potential trajectories for the future of the European Union. 

Researcher: Akudo McGee (see profile)

Supervisors: Mathieu Segers, Ferenc Laczó, Frans Brom (see profiles)