RECON Online Working Paper 2009/02

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In Search of Popular Subjectness

Identity Formation, Constitution-Making and the Democratic Consolidation of the EU

Hans-Jörg Trenz (ARENA, University of Oslo)



This article addresses the critical issue of how constitutional designing of the EU is related to the expression of collective identities. A European collective identity is perceived in terms of the discursive representation of the underlying demos of a European democracy. Against the common view that holds the self-identified political community as prior and independent of constitutional designing, it is claimed that democracy rather operates through the identification of popular subjectness. The demos is signified and recognised as distinct and internally coherent through democratic practice. In the empirical part, it is tested out to what extent public debates on EU constitution-making were linked to the identification of popular subjectness. By drawing on a comparative media survey of constitutional debates from 2002-2007, the paper distinguishes different markers of collective identities (national, European or multiple) that were used for representing and signifying democratic subjects in the EU.  


Constitution for Europe Democracy European Identity European Public Space Media

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