Joke time again. How do you recognize a technocrat? Easy: give him or her the Sahara; five years on he or she will have to import sand from abroad…

Coluche, sometimes in the 1970s.

In a French context, “technocrats”, and especially their EU-based subcast (“eurocrats”, to take the title of a 1966 book by Altiero Spinelli) have been the butt of many jokes. Rarely, however, have they been studied as a diverse, evolving group of managers, politicans, experts, civil servants, journalists, lobbyists gravitating around the European institutions. This huge group of people is of course diverse and difficult to study, but it gives a wonderful example of the “small world” of international organizations and transnational networks.

That’s the reason why I eagerly picked from the shelf Didier Georgakakis’ last edited volume, Le champ de l’eurocratie, une sociologie politique du personnel de l’UE (Economica, 2012). The book’s title is quite self-explanatory. Eurocrats provide one with a fascinating showpiece for the study of networks (not only diplomatic networks) and their influence on international decision-making. The contributions range from one group to the other: journalists to national representatives, experts to politicians, lobbyists to ECB central bankers, etc. A salivating program, that contributes to a rising trend of researches in France on the “European political field” – examples here and here in French, and here in English. Note that most of these studies in EU political sociology, including Georgakakis’ book, are located at my alma mater, the University of Strasbourg.

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2 Responses to Eurocracy…

  1. Carlos Sanz says:

    Thanks for the bibliographic references, they are very useful, as usual.

    Your opening joke, by the way, reminds me of the famous words attributed to Georges Pompidou “There are three roads to ruin; women, gambling and technicians. The most pleasant is with women, the quickest is with gambling, but the surest is with technicians”. Looking at the monetary policy of today’s EU, I quite agree…


    Carlos Sanz

    • louisclerc says:

      Thank you for that. Funny that it should be Pompidou’s quote, since he himself started as a “technocrate”.
      In his introduction, Georgakakis goes on to say that the book is not an indictment of European technocracy – for the simple reason that such a thing does not exist in the sense its critics would imagine it. The book does a good job at showing a rich, varied and multilayered undergrowth of networks and groups instead of a monolithic group of “eurocrats”.

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