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Why is Norway Outside the European Union?

Norwegian National Identity and the Question of European Integration


Gamze Tanil

This book introduces identity politics into the analysis of international relations. Through the usage of identification approaches, combined with an extensive presentation of the specific features of Norwegian nation-building, it offers a lucid account of how Norway’s history and culture shape the prism through which many Norwegians view the merits of their country’s relations with the emerging European Union.


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Chapter 5: Conclusion


This book aims to explain Norwegian people’s reluctance to join the European integration. The rejection of the EU-membership in 1972 and 1994 with a consist- ent majority is interesting because although the international and domestic envi- ronments have changed considerably, Norwegian referendum debates and results have remained the same. The explanations for this foreign policy choice vary widely among scholars. To start with, Rokkan (1966, 1967) referred to the cleavages in the Norwegian soci- ety on the territorial-cultural dimension (centre-periphery) and on the economic- functional dimension (producers such as farmers and fishermen and the consum- ers) (employers and employees) composing the two sides of the society. Valen (1981) stressed that the 1972 and 1994 referenda were characterized by all these cleavages being activated. While this explanation is able to pinpoint the pattern of behaviour, it does not shed light on the question of motivation. Bj�rklund (1997) analyzed the results of the 1972 and 1994 referenda accord- ing to five different perspectives: (1)interest explanations, (2)cultural explana- tions, (3)opposing the elite/government, (4)generation perspective, (5)cleavage model. Among them, he stressed the interest explanations and interpretations based upon differences in culture, values and norms. However, he argued that ‘it is difficult to differentiate the two, and draw clear-cut conclusions’ (Bj�rklund 1997:154). Ingebritsen (1995, 1997) employed a ‘political economy based sectoral ap- proach’ and focused on the role of the leading sector (petroleum) and secondary sectors (agriculture and fisheries) in generating the negative result in the EU-...

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