Academic Research

November 7th, 2016
Critical Discourse Analyses:
Understanding State Movements Effecting Power Structure in the European Context

The creative European project was approved by the European Council 3 December 2013 and enacted by the members of the European Parliament (MEPS) to be funded from 1 January 2014 – 2020. The aims and goals of the 1.46 Billion euro project, the European Parliament sought to (a) to safeguard, develop and promote European cultural and linguistic diversity and to promote Europe’s cultural heritage; (b) to strengthen the competitiveness of the European cultural and creative sectors, in particular of the audiovisual sector, with a view to promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Creative Europe progamme has a relationship to the broader context of the EU’s unifying identity, with consideration to EU slogan, “Unity in Diversity”. The programme conceptually aims to enhance ‘European’ art and cultural producers while maintaining the individual and national identities of said producers. “European branding and identity” serves as the fundamental ideology as an end result to Creative Europe policy text. However movements by state actors inside and out of the EU in context to the Creative Europe project questions the “unifying” motive of the ideology. Due to the 2016 “Brexit campaign” the UK now faces the role of arts and culture outside of the European context. Examples of right-wing populist nationalism campaigns such as UKIP party in Britain and the AK Parti of Turkey give example of EU member movements challenging the semi-hegemonic state of the EU, namely of projects such as Creative Europe which promotes, Europeaness of identity and branding. This paper approaches Horkheimer’s Frankfurt School, “Critical Theory” (Wodak and Meyer, 2009 p.6) with 1) considering the role of Creative Europe as a European unifier, 2) how does this project give evidence to the EU context as a unification state 3) how do state actors influence the power structure of the EU, and 4) how does the unification discourse of EU influence global trends?

The European Union is a post-WWII conceptualization of political, economical, and social union-ship that evolved out of the Treaty of Rome by the 1957 signing from the original member states; Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and West Germany; and has since expanded to 28 member countries. The original conceptualization was birthed out regional standardization and supranational intergovernmental decision – making. The European Council, informally introduced in 1961, serves as the overall policy director emphasizing in political direction and priorities. The institution is compromised of heads of states of member states along with the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission. In his 2010 book, Strategy Making in the European Union: The Quest for Comprehensive Security, Frank Hagemann (p.18) discusses the European Union as a regional hegemonic state through supranational basis and intergovernmental decision making, -the jurisdiction of a governing body which challenges the characteristics of Kan’s definition of actor as mentioned above. Hagemann goes on to say that these “characteristics differ from other international actors such as China, Russia, or the United States (…)namely with the time consuming decision-making process” (Hagemann, p.19). What is seen as an overreaching of bureaucratic power, member states such as the UK have questioned its dependence on the European Union. The EU interpreted as a overreaching bureaucratic state has created a subconscious symbolic image of authoritarianism for itself; interpreted by members of actor states, such as UKIP, which in turn negatively effected its discourse of maintaining union-ship. Brexit is an example building off of Foucault’s interpretation of realties (Wodak and Meyer, 2009, p. 39), in that the UKIP party, lead by Nigel Frarge, strategy was to create a movement through communicating a dialogue of an anti-immigration and economic and social independence rhetoric. Foucault would relate the conscious understanding of Brexit campaigners to their particular realties as a symbolic reaction to what is seen as EU authoritarian bureaucracy and standards.

Thompson (1990) discusses the concept of creating ideology and its relationship to other concepts through aspects of mass communication. For Thompson, “ideology refers to social forms and process within which, and by means of which, hegemonic symbolic forms circulate in the social world” (Wodak and Meyer, p. 86). Considering UKIP commenting right-wing populist rhetoric as a reaction to European Union unification message and reframing its construct as a hegemonic state, the movement gained influence and was able to target voter behavior in the UK. Furthermore Brexit now becomes a global symbol of anti EU discourse and dialogue in challenging power of perceived authority. Now there is an emergence of various other anti-EU members of actors, or eurosceptics, challenging the role of power of the EU bureaucracy such as, nationalist Freedom party of Austria, Lega Nord of Italy, the Front National movement of France, Sweden Democrats of Sweden, AFD party of Germany, and so forth. What it means for the UK post Brexit is largely an uncertain process as this is the first example of a nation state exiting the EU, however the automatic legislative measure is invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, -two years to concede a plan between both entities. Two social distinct considerations, are of individual migration and settlement in the now closing open boarder policy of the EU and the economical concerns of trade between EU and UK. Brexit now can be considered in the Foucauldian sense of power, as a whole system of mechanisms as an expression within a discourse (Wodak and Meyer, 2010, p. 35). Therefore the Brexit discourse coexists within the greater context of the European discourse, as a dialogue of power and social practice as defined by Foucualt, between the relationships of member states and the greater EU.

These two discourse more accurately give rise to Teun A. van Dijk critical discourse analyst on dominance and power. van Dijk defines dominance as an “exercise of social power by elites, institutions or groups,” however in the means that “power and dominance as unilaterally imposed on others resulting in social inequality”, but in a “top-down” relation structure (van Dijk, 1993, p. 250). Dominance in context to Brexit considers the legitimacy of EU as a unifier, as questioning the acceptance of top-down bureaucratic conditions of euro standards, creating; as seen by Brexit supporters, an “abuse” in power as a social inequality in relation to UK.
van Dijk can give clarity into power “abuse” of elites as “abuse, that is, in breaches of laws, rules and principles of democracy, equality and justice by those who wield power. To distinguish such power from legitimate and accept- able forms of power” (van Dijk, 1993, p. 255). Rather Brexit is a negative or positive in social-economical outcome to EU discourse, in conclusion, it fundamentally altered the consideration of power and dominance social structures within Europe, in questioning the legitimacy of EU bureaucracy.

The perspective now shifts into the EU unification discourse as influencing global trends. Due to the incoherent variable of shifting power structures such as Brexit, the EU as seen as the dominate ideal of the western world now stagnates (EEAS, Online). Due to increasing conservative nationalism movements amongst member states, the EU now finds a new discourse positioning of having questioned the legitimacy of the principles of Euro states liberal western democracies as a global mentality effecting its open society model. Potential EU accession countries such as Turkey, which were associate members to the European Economic Community, member of the Council of Europe, and former members of the Creative Project, now finds itself with the lowest opinion polling numbers of Turkish population approval in joining Europe. Insert from the Daily Sabah, Turkish news from Istanbul:

According to a recent survey conducted by Turkish research company
TNS Piar, the desire of Turks to join the European Union has dropped
to an all-time low. The survey found that only 28 percent of Turks think
that Turkish membership to the EU would be “a good thing”, while 39 percent
thinks joining the union would be bad and 25 percent stated that
it would be neither good nor bad, the other 8 percent refused to
answer the question. Another survey by EU’s polling organization,
which measured public opinion of more than 32 thousand people,
revealed that only 28 percent of Turkish respondents support Turkey’s
EU membership. The survey shows that Turkish support declined
by ten percent compared to the previous survey conducted six months ago.
In response to a question asking whether Turkey would benefit from full membership of the EU, 54 percent of respondents said no and only 36
percent chose to answer yes (Daily Sabah, 2014)

The West now finds itself in a juxtaposed position of maintaining regional social unity and global influence while dealing with anti-West rhetoric created out of a critique by domestic actors such as conservative nationalist and other international actors such as whom challenge fundamental western principles of liberal democracies. Turkey operating in the political framework of secular parliamentary representative democratic republic, such as other self -identifying democratic republic nations like North Korea, DR of Congo, and Ethiopia, shows increasing self interest to pivot away from the West and principles. After a 2016 military coup, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pivoted away from NATO and Western partners toward Russia. This pivot concerns Western leaders considering pre-coup Russian and Turkish relations were seen as strained due to a political strategy difference toward the ongoing Syrain conflict and Turkish shooting down of Russian Su-24 warplane. Turkeys post coup phase saw a dramatic purge of the countries potential Erdogan anti-government supporters including military officials, academics, civil servants, and police. The Washington Post implies post-coup and Russian pivot Turkish political movements as a matter of failing relationships to the West, quoting, “But the negotiations are likely to elevate concerns in the West over Turkey’s political direction as it employs increasingly authoritarian measures (….) Erdogan has criticized the West for what he viewed as tepid support.”(Washington Post, 2016, Online).

The contemporary discourse of the EU to maintain as a unifying regional entity must reevaluate its role toward concerns of self-imposed hegemonic rhetoric from conservative nationalist actors within its member states. International projects such as Creative Europe serve to brand, identify, unify a Euroness to the EU serve little in regards to Foucaultian sense of power as a social mechanism within a discourse. The Brexit campaign and the Turkish Eastern pivot provide examples of state movements challenging the fundamental symbolic nature of regional unity created out of post WWII European bureaucratic measures. The CDA of this project should serve to clarify unifying principles of European Union within greater discourse of the West, to combat state movements will have to consider more measures to promote cultural values and projects such as Creative Europe and allow for more non-members to participate; consider its intensive bureaucratic supranational intergovernmental decision – making as a cultural image brander which amplifies anti-EU rhetoric; and consider its “top-down” power and dominance structure in relation to its societal effect in contrast to other international actors.

Biography (Order of appearance)

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