Theorizing Legal Mobilization in Europe: Do Dogs Bark Differently in Europe?

Thursday, July 13, 2017
Gilbert Scott Conference Room - 250 (University of Glasgow)
Dagmar Soennecken , School of Public Policy & Department of Social Science, York University
While many scholars criticize the democratic deficit in the European Union, others have noted that its support for a robust rights regime has opened up new opportunities for democratic engagement. Individuals and civil society actors have mobilized the law at both the EU and the national level to demand changes in a vast range of policy areas, from consumer and disability to environmental rights. National and EU level courts have responded and are now much more present in public policy discussions than ever before. However, the implications for this new mode of engagement for EU governance are far from clear. Are only certain policy areas affected? Or are we seeing a transformation of the way in which the EU (and with that, its member states) is being governed? Why, for instance, do some collective actors not resort to rights talk or litigation as a strategy for advocating change in some settings? My contribution will review existing explanations for legal mobilization in both the European and North American literature and suggest that we need to “bring the state back in” (Skocpol, 1985) to fully understand the uneven degree of legal mobilization in Europe.