BISA Susan Strange Book Prize winner 2015

Opting Out of the European Union: Diplomacy, Sovereignty and European Integration

Published: February 2015 ISBN: 9781107618343 Publisher: Cambridge University Press

This timely and fascinating book demonstrates that sovereignty is not only an abstract concept. Rather, it is lived and managed by real social actors. The book weaves rich theoretical literature in an elegant and innovative manner. It demonstrates the value of incorporating sociology, including Pierre Bourdieu and Erving Goffman, into the study of the increasingly wider and more important spaces developing between the insides and the outsides of states and about which much of IR theory struggles to speak coherently. Thanks to an impressive number of in-depth interviews and unique ethnographical work, the book shows how diplomats embody the state and make sense of formal rules and sovereignty claims in their routine, daily activities. The book examines what happens when a government secures an opt-out or exemption from EU policies, as United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark and other countries have done on issues such as the euro, defense, social policy, border controls  and asylum and immigration. The findings are important and challenge core distinctions in IR and European integration theory by showing how, paradoxically, opt-outs can actually strengthen the EU. This is because everyday negotiations transform national interests into European ideals. - Summary provided by the book author.

Selection committee comments

"The committee awarded the prize to Opting out of The EU by Rebecca Adler-Nissen because of its empirically rich and theoretically sophisticated treatment of the key contemporary issue of how, when and why states opt-out of vital areas of European policy such as asylum, migration, security and justice. We were particularly impressed with the book’s original development and application of a political sociology of the everyday negotiations and tensions at the interface between national interests and European ideals."

Selection committee 2015

Chair Professor Peter Newell University of Sussex

Professor Richard Devatak University of Queensland

Dr Trine Flockhart Danish Institute for International Studies

Professor Elisabeth Prugl Graduate Insitute Geneva

British International Studies Association


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