THESEUS Awards 2012

THESEUS Award for Outstanding Research on European Integration


The THESEUS Award for Outstanding Research on European Integration 2012 is going to be discerned to Prof. Dr. Brigid Laffan, University College Dublin. 


Brigid Laffan is Jean Monnet Professor of European Politics at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin (UCD) since 1991. From 2005 to 2011 she was Vice President of UCD and Principal of the College of Human Sciences. Beyond that she was the founding director of the Dublin European Institute, UCD, and founding member of the Institute of European Affairs (IEA), which is now the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), Ireland’s leading think tank on European and international issues.

Brigid Laffan has had visiting assignments at universities across the world as for example University of Edinburgh and Leiden, Peking University, European University Institute, Florence and Freie Universität Berlin. From 1991 to 2004, she was a visiting Professor at the College of Europe, Brugge.

As researcher, Brigid Laffan contributed considerably to the state of art of the research on European integration and to the strengthening of European studies as a discipline. Her research interests range from the dynamics of European integration, EU Governance, Europeanization and Public Finances. She is a leading expert on Ireland’s European policy. As such, she has authored several publications, including monographs and numerous articles in refereed journals. She has taken part in several international research projects. Thus, between 2001 and 2004, she co-ordinated a six country cross national research project on “Organising for EU Enlargement”, financed by the EU Commission’s Fifth Framework Programme. Moreover, she has been part of two Networks of Excellence, CONNEX (2004-2007) and EU- CONSENT (2004-2009), and of the integrated research project on New Modes of Governance in Europe (NewGov, 2004-2007). She is also member of the editorial board of Journal of Common Market Studies, West European Politics, to name but a few.

Besides, Prof. Laffan has rendered outstanding service to the European case by her public role as chair holder of the Irish Alliance for Europe in 2001/02 and Ireland for Europe in 2008. After the defeat of the Nice and Lisbon referendum in Ireland, she established a campaign to engage in public debate on the key issues facing Ireland and the EU. She also acted several times as adviser on European policy to public bodies in Ireland, other EU member states and EU institutions. For her merits as researcher and public person, she has been granted multiple distinctions. Thus she has been nominated as member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2005 and got the Ordre national du Mérite from the President of the French Republic.


THESEUS Award for Promising Research


Dr Theresa Kuhn, University of Oxford

Dr Theresa Kuhn is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations and a member of Nuffield College at the University of Oxford. She obtained a PhD in Political and Social Sciences from the European University Institute, Florence, and has held visiting positions at University of California at Berkeley, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin and Free University Berlin. Originally from Austria, Theresa Kuhn completed her undergraduate studies at Passau University and at Institut d’Études Politiques de Toulouse. She also worked as an external project manager for the European Commission (DG Education and Culture) and for the Austrian Embassy in Madrid. Currently, she is conducting laboratory experiments to study to what extent Europeans expose some sort of transnational solidarity by analysing their willingness to redistribute to other European countries. 


PhD thesis: Individual transnationalism and EU support. An empirical rest of Deutsch’s transactionalist theory, European University Institute, Florence

This thesis empirically tests Karl W. Deutsch’s transactionalist theory in the context of the European Union today. More precisely, it analyses the impact of transnational interactions and globalisation on political support for European integration using multilevel analyses of Eurobarometer survey data. According to Deutsch, increased European cross-border transactions should lead to increased EU support. The empirical analyses show that Deutsch’s hypothesis is correct, at the individual level, but that transnationalism is stratified across societies. Transnational interactions and networks are concentrated among a small group of highly educated, young Europeans. Moreover, increased transactions also generate negative externalities with respect to those Europeans who remain sedentary. In highly globalised countries, these individuals react even more strongly by developing eurosceptical attitudes than in low-transnationalised countries. The findings of this thesis suggest that for transactions to effectively trigger EU support, a broader share of the population needs to be involved. The thesis was defended at the European University Institute in July 2011, and was awarded EUI’s Linz-Rokkan Prize for the best thesis in political sociology. Parts of the research results have appeared as single-authored articles in European Journal of Political Research, European Union Politics and Journal of Common Market Studies.  



Dr Claudia Schrag Sternberg, University of Oxford

Dr Claudia Schrag Sternberg is Career Development Fellow (or Early Career Fellow) and Acting Director of Studies in Politics at St Hugh's College, Oxford University. Her research explores the relationship between citizens and political power, and the roles that ideas, ideologies, and narratives can play in shaping it. Drawing on interpretive methodologies inspired by political anthropology and intellectual history, she seeks to bring theoretical and empirical approaches into dialogue. Schrag Sternberg holds a PhD and an MPhil from Cambridge, as well as an MA from Yale. She has previously been a Wiener-Anspach Fellow at the Université libre in Brussels and a visiting doctoral student at Sciences Po Paris, and has held a research fellowship of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. 


The Struggle for EU Legitimacy: Public Contestation 1950s-2005, forthcoming at Palgrave

That the European Union’s capacity to act effectively depends in part on its ability to develop a legitimate form of political order, is a widely held view. How far it has come in this direction is a question that engages political theorists and social scientists alike. Whereas they are engaged, respectively, in de- and re-constructing the normative standards of legitimate political order in the EU’s unique multi-level constellation, or in assessing how much legitimacy the EU actually obtains, this monograph addresses an aspect of EU legitimacy that has received less attention: the dynamics and processes by which the EU’s legitimacy is constructed, and endowed with meaning, in political discourses.

The book charts the history of contests over EU legitimacy, and over what this might mean, in discourses of the European institutions and in public debate. Through a qualitative interpretive textual analysis of an eclectic range of sources, it examines both long-term patterns in EU-official discourses, as well as their reception in member-state public spheres, and specifically in the German and French debates on the Maastricht and Constitutional Draft Treaties. The focus of the analysis lies on argumentative and narrative dynamics of meaning-making, and the sources used include official declarations, treaty preambles, reports, strategy and policy papers, speeches, and so on, as well as systematic samples of newspaper articles for the country case studies. The story told portrays the history of legitimating the EU as a continuous contest over the ends and goals of integration, as well as a balancing act—which was inescapable given the nature of the integration project—between “bringing the people in” and “keeping them out”.