Transfers of Political and Administrative Ideas: Reflections on the Debate of the Future of Europe
The panel discussed the “transfer of ideas” approach with a special focus on political and administrative ideas in Europe. Comparative political science and public administration scholarship often refer to the notion of national political cultures and administrative traditions to understand differences between states. Likewise, historical institutionalism provides a strong argument for the existence of national paths that ultimately build “webs of beliefs” that are tied to a given social and historical context and display a certain stability over time. Empirical textual research shows, however, that ‘tradition’ is a historically hybrid concept, open for outside inspiration and influence through mutual learning. Consequently, there tends to be transformation over time to a degree that makes the notion of national tradition questionable altogether. Recently, the EU institutions have convened a conference where representatives of member states’ governments and parliaments will discuss for two years the future of the EU. In its communication, the European Commission emphasizes, however, that this is not a new debate but that it builds on two years of transnational and national online and offline consultations in these fora. This is an interesting framing to discuss how ideas circulate transnationally, how national political actors influence each other, and which are the mediations and mediators between the different national and functional spheres of the debate. Instead of emphasizing national traditions and their comparative research, the panel’s focus will be on transnational European political and historical actors coming into contact from different backgrounds and contexts, and the mutual inspiration and influence on their intellectual and political writings, policies or dynamics. The panel will discuss the utility of transfer of ideas approach for political science, history, sociology, international relations, and other related disciplines. It welcomes both theoretical papers and empirical analyses of transfers of ideas with a methodological focus.