Constructivist Perspectives

Frank Schimmelfennig

in The Oxford Handbook of the European Union

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199546282
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Constructivist Perspectives


Constructivism claims that social ideas and discourses matter for European integration. In the constructivist perspective, European integration is at its core a process of community building. Communities are groups or associations based on shared ideas. They share a collective identity, causal and normative beliefs, and structures of meaning. Over time, community building and institutional integration mutually influence and potentially reinforce each other. This article first presents empirical findings on integration preferences, then moves on to ideational effects on collective integration decisions. Finally, it reports results regarding the effects of institutional integration on identities and ideas.

Keywords: European integration; constructivism; community building; institutional integration; European identity

Article.  6177 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; European Union

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