Europe or Not! Multiple Conversations and Voices

With Alberto Martinelli, Vittorio Cotesta, Nadia Urbinati and Alain Touraine

by Monica Simeoni (Volume editor)
©2016 Monographs 180 Pages


Europe is in crisis and the EU project risks disintegration. The refugee and Brexit issues, as well as recent events in Turkey, demonstrate how serious matters really are. In a EurActiv interview, in February 2016, Edgar Morin, the French sociologist and philosopher, speaks of a «planetary crisis» and the need «to change civilisation» in order to respond to the complexity of today’s world. Furthermore, the drama of terrorism, a new phenomenon for contemporary western democracies requires serious reflection regarding jihadism and its radicalisation.
These are but some of the issues addressed during the multiple conversations held with the three sociologists, Alberto Martinelli, Vittorio Cotesta and Alain Touraine and with the political scientist, Nadia Urbinati. All the interviewees are leading experts on European issues and institutions, as well as on democracy put to the test currently by rampant populism in almost all the EU countries. Alain Touraine fervently holds that «it is madness» not to want a united Europe at a moment when we need a new political and economic project capable of defeating the nationalism, walls and separation between states that now seem to prevail.
Europe finds itself in a dramatic position: it must choose innovation and construction, or disintegration, with all the unpredictable consequences this may entail.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • Prelude. European Concerns, Reflections and Perspectives
  • A New Europe in the Face of Cultural and Religious Differences. Fear of Islam
  • Introduction
  • Part One. Europe: An Increasingly Urgent Project
  • Premises
  • 1. Populisms: the risks for European democracy
  • 2. Political parties in the current transformation process
  • 3. Europe and the United States of Europe?
  • - The idea of Europe
  • - The European project
  • 4. Identity in a European perspective
  • - Identity: a polyvalent concept
  • - A multiple identity
  • 5. Nations and nationalisms: a comeback of national authority?
  • - Nation: a complex term
  • - What boundaries for Europe?
  • 6. Welfare and common European policies
  • - The European welfare model
  • - New community policies
  • Part Two. Multiple Conversations and Voices: Sociological Perspectives
  • Alberto Martinelli: Europe: integration or disgregation
  • Vittorio Cotesta: What role for Europe on the world’s new checker-board?
  • Nadia Urbinati: European integration: a democratic challenge to populisms
  • Alain Touraine: The Subject, the new actor in post-social society
  • Conclusions
  • References

| 9 →


I wish to thank all those who helped me with their advice, by suggesting books and articles to consult, while tracking and discussing this difficult, impervious and increasingly uphill pathway of European politics.

I wish to thank, in particular, Professors Alberto Martinelli, Vittorio Cotesta, Nadia Urbinati and Alain Touraine for their availability and for putting some of their precious time at my disposal to discuss a dramatic and topical issue such as Europe, sharing their ideas concerning an EU project that has always seen them involved as protagonists and experts.

Not only, after more than a year, they agreed to reflect once more on Europe, increasingly divided as States and Nations raise walls and fences instead of seeking common solutions for integration. But their pro-European sentiment – while they are perfectly aware of the present dramatic difficulties – has been strengthened, not weakened. The project in favour of the Union is the “last call” for a continent that might find the economic, moral and political resources to permit it to go on playing a leading role upon the worldwide stage.

Thanks also to Professor Antimo Farro for his helpful suggestions. Thanks to Professor Alain Touraine too for his time and attention. I happened to interview him in Paris on the 13th November 2015, a bare few hours before the dramatic terrorist attacks that struck the city. His reflections on Europe, on populism and on an “ethical subject” as protagonist of a postsocial society, whom he has described and examined in his latest books, enrich this work with analyses that may be taken up again at a later stage and examined in greater depth. I also wish to thank Professor Piero Pisarra for his help with Professor Alain Touraine’s interview. Many thanks also to Marie-Eve and Michael Zaffarano for their help with the translation of this interview.

Many thanks to Professors Léonce Bekemans and Enzo Pace for the essays that form the Prelude to this book.

The suggestions and prompt observations provided by Roberto Cipriani, Cecilia Costa and Franco Vespasiano have been invaluable. All have contributed, in different but equally significant ways, to the production of this text. ← 9 | 10 →

I am grateful to Kay McCarthy for translating the Italian text into English.

Many thanks to the Università degli Studi del Sannio, Benevento, for the financial support it provided.

| 11 →


European Concerns, Reflections and Perspectives

Prof. Dr. Léonce BEKEMANS1

In a rapidly changing world, continuous political courage, inspiration and human-centric practices are needed to shape and strengthen the notion of “Europe” as a never-ending story. The promotion of these values should be conceived as a task containing internal and external aspects in the pursuit of a European model of society that reaches out, however, beyond the European territory. Yet, the various economic, political, social and cultural challenges in the era of globalisation have a drastic and diversified impact on societies, states, peoples, communities and persons across Europe. The growing complexity and interconnection between and within societies have become intrinsic characteristics of European societies.

Europe is at the crossroads of its destiny, a turning point in its process of integration, shaped by past, present and future developments. Its historical development reveals a dynamic and evolving entity with many faces, multiple identities and diversified forms of cooperation. A number of (internal and external) challenges are now undermining the European model of socio-economic cohesion and cultural and regional diversity. Europe is in crisis; the refugee crisis and the Brexit2 debate simply demonstrate its seriousness. In a recent interview in EurActiv, Edgar Morin, the French sociologist ← 11 | 12 → and philosopher, speaks of a “planetary crisis” and the need “to change civilisation”3 in order to respond to the complexity of today’s world. This reality should generate a collective awakening of consciousness. It certainly implies a rethinking and actualising of the multiple European narratives and recognition of a new and radically changing context. “Without commonly shared and widely entrenched moral values and obligations, neither the law, nor democratic government, nor even the market economy will function properly”. (Václav Havel).

The on-going and radical process of transformation of European societies needs a proper contextualisation within its globalising, Europeanising, regionalising and localising context. Questions about identity, citizenship, governance, borders, democracy and dialogue are in need of proper answers. EU’s role in the world is rooted in its very existence, as an emerging form of multi-lateral governance of national and local diversities at the European level. What matters is the consolidation of a complex set of common institutions and mixed policy practices among Member States in view of developing workable models of multi-level governance in times of dramatic changes.

Our democracy is in crisis. EU citizens are losing faith in democracy because political leaders cannot deliver the promises at national level (as the Eurobarometer surveys indicate). Moreover, our democratic institutions seem not be able to adequately manage the problems. In sum, the place and the role of the State is drastically changing in international relations, mainly due to the positive and negative consequences of the globalisation process and the increasing multi-cultural dimension of our societies beyond the Westphalian international system. The State is not any longer the exclusive actor in the globalising system and power has been globalised, despite attempts to return to national solutions as the current migration crisis illustrates. As a consequence, the concept of multi-level/multi-actor governance has gained increasing importance as a policy tool in managing diversities and cross-border challenges.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (November)
Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 180 pp.

Biographical notes

Monica Simeoni (Volume editor)

Monica Simeoni is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the Sannio University (Benevento, Italy) and Assistant Professor of Sociology of Religion at the Ecclesia Mater Higher Institute of Religious Sciences, Pontifical Lateran University (Vatican City, Rome). Her most recent publications include A Morbid Democracy, Old and New Populisms, 2014.


Title: Europe or Not! Multiple Conversations and Voices
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
182 pages