Eurosceptic protest movements: a comparative analysis between Ireland, the UK, Estonia and Denmark

Fitzgibbon, John (2011) Eurosceptic protest movements: a comparative analysis between Ireland, the UK, Estonia and Denmark. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to add to the growing literature on Euroscepticism by providing an in-depth comparative study of groups in civil society that actively campaign against European integration in Denmark, Estonia, Ireland and the United Kingdom. This study labels these groups as ‘Eurosceptic Protest Movements’ (EPMs). Five explanatory factors drawn from the literature on Euroscepticism and social movements are used to ask the research question of why EPMs are formed. These are namely, Euroscepticism in the party system, the number of referendums in each case study, the availability of resources, the openness of the policy making process, and the perceived pro-EU bias of the media.

Empirically it proceeds on a case by case basis, providing an in-depth account of each state’s relationship with the EU from party system, public opinion, referendums to case specific factors to allow for an appreciation of the environment in which EPMs are formed. Data is gathered primarily from interviews with the founders and both current and former members of EPMs, with additional information coming from EPM documents, referendum manifestos and posters. Contextual information is provided by interviews with academics, journalists and pro-European activists, and secondary literature in EU studies and social movements.

The thesis comes to two key conclusions. Firstly, in relation to the literature on social movements, EPMs conform strongly to the political opportunity structure paradigm in that body of work. More specifically is the importance of referendums to EPM formation, an element of the political opportunity structure that has not been researched in relation to social movements. Secondly, with regard to Euroscepticism the thesis concluded that EPMs emerge because of a lack of available space for contestation on the EU issue and the inability of political parties to act as an interlocutor between the electorate and the EU.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN0015 European federation and integration
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN0030 European Union. European Community. European communities
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2012 12:21
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015 13:34
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/39671

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