Europeanization beyond the goodness of fit: Domestic politics in the forefront
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SourceComparative European Politics, 4, 4, (2006), pp. 331-354
Article / Letter to editor
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Comparative European Politics
SubjectInstitutional Shifts in Government and Governance in a Comparative and International Context
This paper provides a critical assessment of the 'goodness of fit' hypothesis, which is central to the literature on Europeanization. According to this hypothesis, the ease of adaptation to European policies depends upon the extent to which these fit national policies and institutions. On the basis of a literature review and integration of research findings, we conclude that the goodness of fit lacks empirical and conceptual strength. We argue that part of the problem is that the relationship between the status quo and the response to the EU is spurious, as both variables are contingent upon the preferences or beliefs held by domestic political and administrative actors. This shortcoming has been recognized by advocates of the thesis, who have crafted more dynamic frameworks revolving around the goodness of fit by bringing in 'political' variables that may capture the overriding power of substantive positions of domestic policy-makers. However, we provide various examples showing that the goodness of fit is not a necessary condition for domestic change. We argue, therefore, that it would be theoretically sounder to directly focus on domestic preferences or beliefs, and no longer incorporate the goodness of fit into our models. We provide the outline of such an approach, building on rational choice and sociological institutionalism, giving some examples of particular models under these broad headings. We argue that such applications are more parsimonious than the expanded goodness of fit frameworks, in that they make the goodness of fit, and most of the additional variables suggested, redundant. In doing so, we hope to provide the foundations for further theoretical and empirical work on the dynamics of Europeanization.
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