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Transparency in European Union Governance: The Misdirection of Europe's Legitimacy Enterprise?

Lea, Stephen J (2016) Transparency in European Union Governance: The Misdirection of Europe's Legitimacy Enterprise? PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This thesis critically appraises the concept of transparency, using the European Union as a case study. The assumption of a positive effects relationship between transparency and legitimacy, notwithstanding the limited empirical evidence, is a pervasive feature of academic and popular literature on transparency, across a variety of subject domains. It has also dominated EU institutional discourses on access to documents, where it has been mooted as a tool for addressing some of the legitimacy problems attendant upon further political integration. Using Grid-Group Cultural Theory, this thesis re-evaluates EU transparency policy through a distinctly ‘culturalist’ lens, exposing some of the hitherto unseen variables which interpose upon transparency’s putative legitimacy enhancing potential. Demonstrating that cultural biases exercise a determinative effect on different actors perceptions and expectations of transparency, it is shown how complex communicative and interpretative processes are influenced by deep-seated cultural heuristics (ways of thinking about and navigating the world around us) which can unseat transparency’s intended effects. Further, it is argued that adopting a Grid-Group approach to transparency policy development offers a means of navigating the fuzzy world of actor preferences. By using a limited typology of four fundamental worldviews, it is possible to generate predictive narrative accounts of different groups of actors’ expectations of transparency, including how they choose to frame transparency problems and what their preferred policy solutions are. Using these narrative accounts we can pursue a more theoretically sustainable account of the relationship between transparency and legitimacy. In the EU context, it is asserted that this process could be used to broker policy reform by exposing some of the unintended consequences and policy pitfalls of pursuing a linear transparency agenda, thus reinvigorating the policy stalemate that has enveloped proposals to recast the existing Regulation 1049/2001 on access to documents.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Law (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.707096
Depositing User: Mr Stephen J Lea
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2017 13:48
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:36
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/16758

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