SP 5: EU-Professionalism: A sociological study of the professionalization of EU expertise

Subproject 5 focuses on the emergence and consolidation of new areas of employment and activity as linked to the process of European integration and on the institutionalization and professionalization of EU-expertise, in short the rise of the so-called 'EU profess ionals'. Research conducted in the first funding period analyzed the development and standardization of professional activities and educational programs in the field of 'EU affairs'. Based on a comparative study of EU professionals in Poland and Germany, certain characteristic practices, competenc ies, stocks of knowledge, and self-images could be identified.

Research in the second project phase, for which funding is sought here, aims to establish how EU professionals negotiate 'European' and 'local' stocks of knowledge in the context of EU-funded projects and how they influence the implementation of such projects, especially the allocation of financial resources. In addition to the aforementioned two countries Spain will be included in the study to also gain further insights about a Member State much affected by the eurozone crisis. Using the example of two selected areas of EU funding - the EU cohesion policy and the research funding 'Horizon 2020' -, the study places the procurement and translation services provided by funding specialists as well as the apparent difficulties encountered during this process under close investigation. By focusing on the practical dimension of EU-funded projects, Subproject 5 takes a close look at one of the central pillars of Europe's current crisis management strategy and explores the 'technical' implementation of EU policy-making from a sociological perspective, placing special emphasis on employment and knowledge. With these objectives in mind the study is meant to provide a better understanding of problems and challenges of Europeanization triggered by increasing expertization and professionalization of EU governance.

First project phase

Professionalization of EU Expertise

This project deals with the emergence and spread of new professions in the course of of onging Europeanization. It investigates how and to which extent the process of Europeanization leads to the formation of a new group of professionals which deal with aspects of the Europeanization of national societies. The European Union is seen as an opportunity structure for the growth of these so-called “EU-professions”. Thus, the project rests on two types of literatures: on the one hand, literature which deals with the increasing role of expert knowledge, new professions and new knowledge regimes, and, on the other hand, on research interested in new forms of horizontal Europeanization understood as cross-border interactions, networks and new forms of connectedness. It asks whether we can observe the emergence of a new type of knowledge experts which act as agents and carriers of Europeanization and contribute to a Europeanization of national fields.

The overarching question is, how these groups transmit European expertise and knowledge into national fields. This research group investigates which specific type of knowledge is acquired and used by the EU professions, which self-understanding if represented by this group and how national fields are affected by their professional activities. Moreover, the project also has a comparative perspective, i.e. it compares Germany and Poland, one old member-state of the European Union, and one new member-state of the European Union, and deals with four selected areas of professional activities: fundraising, culture/identity politics, EU-law, and EU-experts in local communities, cities, counties (EU-offices). In a first step the research group will chart the different types and positions EU-experts in these areas in Poland and Germany. Secondly it will explore the “production” of these professions in educational institutions. This will give us better ideas of the degree of professionalization and institutionalization, the role of degrees and certificates, and the content of expert knowledge provided. By means of a qualitative research design we will identify different types of EU-professionals and scrutinizes their self-understanding and the way they “apply” their knowledge to national fields to tap the specificity of EU-professionalism.