recognition order research

The European Union as such, features a constellation of norms and expectations placed on its member states. Yet, the EU as an unsettled polity entails variety of competing visions as to what the core principles of integration and cooperation among its member states ought to be. Interestingly enough, we know relatively little about what provides recognition to the EU member states, and under what circumstances.

Recognition order is

a framework within which individuals and groups are learning to see themselves as recognized with respect to certain characteristics (Fossum 2005)

The aim of the EURECOR project is to analyse the nature of EU’s recognition order and establish its characteristics. We seek to unravel what and how is likely to generate recognition to member states by fellow member states. We do this by empirically exploring two interconnected dimensions:

  1. public and media discourses on member states’ behaviour in relation to particular EU policies;
  2. formation of “thought communities” sharing understandings of the EU as a political project in and across member state boundaries.

The project addresses two interconnected analytical lacunae in the academic literatures on:

  1. European governance exploring the nature of the EU as a political entity, and
  2. on the role of soft power and public diplomacy in international relations in the context of the EU. Concerning the former, the framework of the EU arguably leads to reframing of key categories of what constitutes sovereignty, interests and roles of member countries.

If the EU is a specific form of a ‘recognition order’ it may also be generating novel conditions for the creation and promotion of member states’ identities and image both inside and outside the EU. Arguably, membership in the EU generates different expectations of countries and restructures basic categories and attributes as sovereignty, alliance, credible partnership, reliability, etc. Yet, it is not clear whether this indeed happens and, if so, how and when. Also, it is not clear whether such restructuring is happening across the board in all EU countries in more or less coherent manner or whether there are differences across countries. Moreover, it is not clear whether various segments of populations within countries can be characterised by different dynamics. EURECOR seeks to fill these gaps and further our understanding of state identity and its place within the EU’s environment.

To get an analytical grip on the EU’s recognition order, it is necessary to focus on multiple processes shaping public spheres in the member states. The project is novel at least in three dimensions:

  1. it combines theoretical insights from studies of EU governance and from studies of soft power / public diplomacy to address the conditions for small countries’ image promotion in the EU’s emerging recognition order;
  2. it combines methods from critical discourse analysis and relational class analysis to analyse Slovakia’s image in the societies of fellow EU member states; and
  3. it builds a unique database using data gathered by the network of Slovak language and literature lecturers at universities in EU member states. Project field-work will focus on selected countries including Finland, Germany, France, Italy and Hungary. Each of the lecturers runs courses for university students who will be actively involved in data gathering. Two types of data will be gathered: narratives in media (including internet versions of leading newspapers) and attitudinal data from random samples of citizens in selected member states.

When it comes to practical policy impact of the findings, getting an understanding of how member states are perceived by which ‘thought communities’ in the EU will enable countries and governments – in this case Slovakia - to develop more targeted approaches to address public debates in other countries. This means the ability to develop tailor made messages that position Slovakia more effectively in existing local ‘structures of mutual relevance and opposition’ in public debates. This does not necessarily mean seeking to rebrand or shed a positive light on Slovakia. It is more about explaining the Slovak position in ways that present arguments that resonate in the framework of mutually shared meanings in a given society or its segments. More specifically, the project will provide a basis for the Slovak Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs to develop a new public diplomacy strategy. The key element here is that this will be a schema-group tailored strategy, i.e. addressing cross national ‘thought communities’ seeing the EU as a market or network in addition to nationally-oriented strategies addressing public spheres in Germany, Italy or Finland.

EURECOR’S lead partner organisation is the Department of Political Science at the Faculty of Arts at Comenius University. The Institute of Sociology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences is a participating partner organisation in EURECOR. This is one of the leading institutes of the Academy in the area of social sciences with experience in organising international scholarly research projects and events.

The Comenius University team consists of well-established researchers from multiple departments with high international reputation and experience from management of and involvement in international research projects as well as talented junior scholars and PhD students. The Faculty of Arts is a leading institution of higher learning in social sciences and humanities. It has extensive experience from managing international projects including EU-funded research in the 5th, 6th and 7th Framework Programs as well as smaller projects funded by international donors. Department of Political Science members have experience in organizing activities and courses for PhD students and young researchers to enhance their writing, presentational, communication and expert skills within in the project “Bringing International Studies Closer to the Market Requirements: System of Support for PhD Students to Conduct High-quality and Practise Useful Research” (supported by European Social Fund, JPD BA 3-2005/NP1-054). The Department of Political Science regularly organises academic conferences and research seminars with leading international and Slovak scholars.

The principal investigator of EURECOR, Jozef Bátora, has extensive experience from organising successful international research seminars, intensive PhD courses given by international lecturers and international summer schools for PhD students at Comenius University in the last 5 years. Specific examples include the Jean Monnet Research Seminars organised at the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences at Comenius University since 2009 and the PhD summer school “Democracy in Europe: Institutions and Practices” organised in the same institution featuring a group of international political scientists as lecturers and PhD students from 13 universities across Europe.

The EURECOR research team at Comenius University includes the following members:

Prof. Jozef Bátora, PhD.

Jozef Bátora is full professor at the Department of Political Science at Comenius University. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Oslo (2006). His work experience includes positions as associate professor and director at the Institute of European Studies and International Relations at Comenius University (2009 – 2015), Fulbright visiting professor at The Europe Center, FSI, Stanford University (2013), research fellow at the Institute for European Integration Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna (2006 – 2009), senior researcher at ARENA – Centre of European Studies at the University of Oslo (2006), and visiting scholar at Scancor, Stanford University (2003 – 2004). His research interests encompass organization theory and institutions, diplomacy, EU foreign policy and identity in international relations. His work was published in a number of peer reviewed journals including Journal of European Public Policy, Journal of Common Market Studies and West European Politics. In the period 2012-2015, he served as coordinating editor of Journal of International Relations and Development (

Prof. PhDr. Darina Malová, CSc.

Prof. Malová is professor at the Department of Political Science and vice dean at the Faculty of Arts at Comenius University. With her research and publications, prof. Malová contributes to theoretical debates in the fields of European integration, political institutions and civil society during democratic transitions. Her publishing record includes 129 publications, including three monographs, one of them published in Palgrave, and 15 studies published in international peer-reviewed journals. She took part in 12 international comparative projects, including 5th and 6th EC Framework Programs and she was the lead researcher in five projects supported by Slovak research agencies (APVV and VEGA), wherein her focus was on political discourse and perception of new member states, including the image of Slovakia abroad.

Doc. PhDr. Jana Pekarovičová, PhD.

Doc. Pekarovičová is the director of Studia Academica Slovaca – Centre for Slovak as a Foreign Language based at the Faculty of Arts at Comenius University, which is also a centre for scientific-methodical preparation of lecturers of Slovak language abroad. Besides Slovakistics the centre focuses on inter-cultural communication, analysis of language, culture and politics in inter-disciplinary and inter-cultural context. She has 141 published contributions, of which 45 are cited, her work was also referenced 194 times, 53 times abroad.

Doc. PhDr. Miloslav Vojtech, PhD.

Doc. Vojtech is vice-dean of the Faculty of Arts at Comenius University. His scholarly work focuses on inter-cultural and inerlateral relations, his research concerns also Slovakia’s image in Slovak literature and culture in Central European context. He has 150 scientific and professional published outputs, including two scientific monographs and 17 studies published in international journals and as working papers.

Mgr. Pavol Baboš, PhD.

Dr Baboš is an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts, Comenius University in Bratislava. Dr. Baboš studied social policy analysis at K.U. Leuven and completed his PhD in political science at Comenius University in Bratislava. In his past Dr. Baboš published on topics as Varieties of Capitalism in Central Eastern Europe, corruption, electoral behavior and transitions on labour markets. Dr. Babos teaches mostly methodology and economic courses at the Department of Political Science.

Mgr. Matej Navrátil

Matej Navrátil is a PhD candidate in European studies and politics at Comenius University. During his PhD studies Matej spent a full semester as visiting scholar at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI). He has actively participated in numerous international and also national conferences, including the International Studies Association convention. His research focuses on change dynamics of Ministries of Foreign Affairs, organization theory and identity studies. Matej is currently finalizing his PhD dissertation where he explores institutional and administrative changes in Ministries of Foreign Affairs in selected countries as a consequence of Europeanization beyond its the EU borders. Two of his papers are currently forthcoming in international scholarly volumes (one of them published by Palgrave).

Mgr. Ana Benje

Ana Benje holds a BA and MA degree in European Studies and International Relations from Comenius University, where she is currently working towards a PhD, investigating political psychology of visual symbols. She is exploring the potential of marketing methodologies and philosophy for understanding and filling-in the democratic deficit both at the EU, and national levels. She specialises in qualitative methodologies, blending methods from sociology, social psychology, behavioural economics, and political science. Ana is also a fellow at eLabEurope in Spain, working as a Strategic Marketing Manager for The Good Lobby project, whose aim is to commodify public interest lobbying.

Mgr. Max Steuer

Max Steuer holds a BA in Political Science from Comenius University and an MA in International Relations and European Studies from Central European University in Budapest (both with distinction). Since September 2015, he is a PhD candidate at the Department of Political Science of Comenius University. In his dissertation, he explores the impact of constitutional courts in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary on democratic regimes in these countries (supervisor: Professor Darina Malová). Besides his dissertation, he isconducting research on questions related to freedom of speech anddemocracy, legitimacy, constitutionalism and the rule of law of Central European countries in the context of the EU. Since June 2016, he is the Head of the Academic Department of the International Association for Political Science Students (IAPSS).

The EURECOR team at the Institute of Sociology at the Slovak Academy of Sciences will include the following members:

Prof. PhDr. Silvia Miháliková, PhD.

Prof. Miháliková is the director of the Institute of Sociology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. She graduated in Sociology, Comenius University in Bratislava. Previously, she was Professor in Political Science; Dean of the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Comenius University in Bratislava (2010 – 2014); guest Professor at the Institute for Political Science, Vienna University; research fellow at the Institute for East Europe, Bremen University (1998 – 2001). Jean Monnet Professor in European Integration (2002 – 2005) and bearer of the Jean Monnet European Centre of Excellence (2005 – 2008); international coordinator of the EC 5th Framework project Cultural Patterns of the European Enlargement Process (2002-2005), head of the Slovak national team of the EC 6 th FP project EU-CONSENT Wider Europe, deeper integration? „Constructing Europe“ Network (2005-2008). Member of the Standing Committee for Social Sciences of the European Science Foundation (2005 – 2011); 2010 – 2012 member of the Accreditation Commission of the Slovak Academy of Sciences; President of the Central European Political Science Association (2006-2009); Head of the Slovak Political Science Association (1994-1998). Her academic activities comprise comparative research on democratization, political cultures and identities, political symbolism, communication, minority questions. Author of number of publications, recent book Zwischen Kreuz und Europastern. Politische Symbolik der Slowakei (Münster, LIT Verlag, 2004).

Mgr. Robert Klobucký, PhD.

Dr. Klobucký is the deputy director of the Institute for Sociology of SAS. He was the principal investigator in three VEGA grant projects and participated in several national and international research projects. He is the author a monograph (Hlasistické hnutie: národ a sociológia [The Hlasist Movement: Nation and Sociology], SÚ SAV 2006) and eight studies in journals covered by the Current Contents database. He is the editor of several edited volumes and author of several monograph chapters. His works have been cited over sixty times of which more than twenty times abroad. Main fields of research: History of Slovak sociology, sociology of nation and ethnicity, public policy, drug policy.