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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 48, Issue 1, January 2022

Realistic and Pragmatic Approaches to Democratic Legitimacy

Peter J. VerovšekOrcid-ID
Pages 141-164

A Realistic European Story of Peoplehood
The Future of the European Union beyond Williams's Basic Legitimation Demand

The divisions emanating from the Eurozone crisis have led political realists to argue that European identity should be conceived of via “basic legitimation demand” (Williams) that prioritizes the creation of order in backward-looking, non-utopian terms. In contrast, I suggest that Europe would do better by building an ethically-constitutive “story of peoplehood” (Smith) that looks both backward and forward. I argue that the EU should build on the ideals drawn from the continent’s shared past as well as its desire to retake control from the global economic forces that threaten democratic political sovereignty in the twenty-first century.