Accepted Paper:

"Pioneers of integration"? "Old" and "new" Europe in the European Commission's bureaucracy  

Author:

Paweł Lewicki (Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder))

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I describe the strategies of symbolical performance among EU Commission civil servants. Drawing on theories from postcolonial studies and Bourdieu’s habitus concept I explore how categories of “east” and “west”, “new” and “old”, “backward” and “modern”, “emotional” and “rational” are symbolically evoked by Commission’s bureaucrats.

Paper long abstract:

The European Commission civil servants constitute, within the apparatus of the European Union, a large group that enjoys the reputation of bureaucratic elite. However, it is not a homogeneous group. Alongside old national identifications, the fall of the "iron curtain" and the European Union's new member-states have led to new stratifications among the EC civil servants themselves.

In this paper I will describe the strategies of symbolical performance among EU-Commission civil servants. Drawing on theories from postcolonial studies and Bourdieu's concept of habitus I will explore how the categories of "east" and "west", "new" and "old", "backward" and "modern", "emotional" and "rational" are symbolically evoked by Commission's bureaucrats. How do "old" and "new" perceive themselves and how are they perceived and what practices are linked to this (self) perception? How do the practices of the EU functionaries - not only in the political culture of the EU Commission, but also in the everyday life of fonctionnaires in Brussels - reveal distinctions between the old and the new? What meanings does "Europeanness" receive in the field of the EC bureaucracy?

I will illustrate the relations between civil servants from old EU member states (Germany and France) and Polish nationals within the Commission. I will explore the inner structure of Polish groups, their dynamics and relations with other groups of "old" fonctionnaires in order to sketch power relations between old and new EC civil servants.

The paper is based on 9 months of fieldwork carried out in Brussels between October 2007 and May 2008.

Panel W052
World(s) of bureaucrats