Lola Avril: “Civilizing” Professionals? Competition Lawyers in the European Integration Process. [Abstract]

This paper focuses on the contributions of Norbert Elias’s theory to the study of the European integration process. There is a long tradition in EU studies to analyze the emergence in Brussels of a Regulatory state. But the European Regulatory State (ERS) has remained to this day largely an asociological and ahistorical concept. Yet, everything indicates that the ERS was not just a product of the European treaties. It appears as a result of political and professional mobilizations that developed in the long history of European construction. Elias’s theory provides a useful framework to study the socio-genesis of the ERS. First, his long-term approach of state formation instead of state building not only helps to sociologize and historicize the form of government that emerged in Brussels but also to understand the role of private actors, such as competition lawyers, in this process. Second, Elias’s sociology of professions invites us to go beyond the study of the institutional façade of legal professions and to analyze lawyers’ investments in the “civilizing” of European capitalism. Studying the role of first competition lawyers who specialized in EU policies in the 1970s and 1980s, this paper shows how these lawyers strengthened their position in national bars and established themselves as the first intermediaries of EU policies. Finally, however, the constitution of the European competition lawyer’s habitus illustrates loopholes in European integration as a civilizing process, or the possibility of a concurrent decivilizing one.

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