Sociology of Knowledge and Production of Normative Power in the European Union’s External Actions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The article focuses on the entanglement between the EU’s attempts to construct its external actions in global politics and research on the EU as a global actor. The article argues that both the development of EU external actions and the sociology of knowledge production surrounding the analysis of these actions suffer from unnecessary dichotomisation. Advocates and analysts of the EU’s normative power have argued that the separation of norms and interests, both in terms of policy-making and policy analysis, is impossible. In contrast, advocates and analysts of the EU as a ‘normal power’, a great power pole in the coming multipolar world, have dichotomised the advocacy of policy-making and the analysis of knowledge production of EU external actions. The article sets out, through an examination of the interlinking of policy-making and policy analysis, how such false dichotomies weaken the sociology of knowledge about the EU and the production of the EU’s external actions. The article uses an analytical means of illustrating the deep interdependencies between the sociology of knowledge and production of the EU’s external actions. This application illustrates how ideas about external actions are spread from the study of normative power to other normative frameworks, and from analysts to policy-makers in the field of EU external actions. The article concludes that strategic dichotomisation and social diffusion are integral to the social sciences and the production of European integration in making Europe ‘normal’.


External organisations
  • University of Copenhagen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • Sociology of Knowledge, European Union, External Actions, Normative Power
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)299-318
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of European Integration
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 21
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographic note

Special Issue: Making Europe: The Sociology of Knowledge Meets European Integration. Edited by: Rebecca Adler-Nissen and Kristoffer Kropp