Theorizing Europe as the Future of Modern Society: European Integration between Thick Norms and Thin Politics*

In: Comparative Sociology
Harry F. Dahms Department of Sociology, University of Tennessee-Knoxville 901 McClung Tower, Knoxville, TN 37996–0490

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Many Americans are overwhelmed when confronted with questions relating to the European Union. And sociologists who are not working directly on related themes, as well as social theorists concerned with incarnations of modern society, have long ignored the peculiar character and historical implications of the developing European Union. But now a growing number of European theorists have begun to focus on the significance of European integration for the very discipline of sociology. To situate and evaluate some of this recent work, I deploy Gregg’s (2003) distinction between thick norms and thin politics. That distinction helps us see that developments in the European Union point toward the formation of a new kind of modern society.

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