Accepted Paper:

Soft Law in a time of culture: EU bureaucrats and intercultural dialogue  


Jeff Katcherian (University of California, Irvine)

Paper short abstract:

The proposal will examine the EU’s production of soft laws for the promotion of EU cultural policies during the “Year of Intercultural Dialogue.” It will particularly investigate the European Commission’s experimentation with the Open-Method of Coordination as a tool for European integration.

Paper long abstract:

DG Education and Culture at the European Commission (EC) is promoting "The Year of Intercultural Dialogue 2008" (EYID) in hopes of issuing voluntary guidelines for EU countries to implement, comprised of a set of concepts and actions to help member states foster "tolerance" and diversity while facilitating unity through exchange between diverse cultures within and beyond "Europe." In this way, the EC has moved from promoting cultural programs to producing European cultural policies by experimenting with the Open-Method of Coordination (OMC). The proposal therefore, will analyze the EC's "EYID" as an instance of the OMC and the cultural management within the EU which becomes particularly controversial when factoring in the following two dimensions of culture administration: the principle of subsidiarity; and the influx of Muslim immigrants which seems to challenge "European" values of inclusion. This proposal will explore how bureaucrats at the EU articulate, understand and/or transform notions of "culture" and "law" as they engage with these two forces. It is also invested in exploring the uses of soft law and the way these laws may change the way in which culture is understood under the contexts of subsidiarity and immigration. How do EU bureaucrats measure the impact of cultural soft laws?; What are the law-like mechanisms used to enforce compliance?; Who takes part in developing these mechanisms and guidelines that are designed to have an impact on policy-making at the member state level?; How does the use of the OMC blur the lines between cultural consciousness/competence and legal consciousness/competence?

Panel W021
'Soft law' practices, anthropologists and legal scholars