EU a La Carte? A System-Theoretic Analysis of the Construction of the Danish EU Debate in the Period of 1972 - 2018

Madalina Sara Jørgensen & Ajen Hiva Kader

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis addresses the topic of political communication and the notion of state through a case study of the Danish EU debate from 1972 - 2018. The thesis investigates the historical construction of the paradoxal EU debate. The analysis follows Niklas Luhmann’s systems theory, which indicates that the world and everything that appears in it is contingent. In this constructivist perspective society consists of functionally differentiated social systems; the political system being one of these. This theory indicates that every observation in the world creates blind spots and paradoxes that are unsolvable. Our analyses show that the way EU is debated in today’s society is not naturally given, it is on the other hand a result of the historical conditions that link EU to an economic semantics that constantly gets disturbed by political observations of lost independency. Our analyses show furthermore that the communication of EU has gone from being a simple narrative about an economic association to be a complex narrative about a political union. We conclude that the current communication is a continuity of the management of a sovereignty paradox. The Brexit negotiations are not terminated yet, the outcome may pose a semantic shift that will change the way EU is debated in Denmark - and the rest of the European countries. The contribution of this thesis is twofold; we show that the EU debate is contingent, and the current crisis management is not as obvious as the media and politicians give an impression of. Furthermore, we problematize the notion of the state as defining the political communication, as more political areas are constructed as boundless. This poses new expectations for the ambition of political management and creates new communicative challenges as current political communication increasingly addresses the attempts to detach certain competences from the national states.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2018
Number of pages103
SupervisorsErik Caparros Højbjerg