Czech party positions on the EU’s finality: a conceptual metaphor approach

Abstract

Political parties play an important role in offering voters some choices about European Union (EU) politics. The literature on party positions on European integration rely largely, from a methodological point of view, on coding of manifestos and expert surveys. This paper opts for a different approach to the study of party positions on European integration based on the analysis of metaphors used by parties in their discourse about the future form of European integration. Although analysis of metaphors has been providing an increasingly popular tool for examining international politics since the early 1990s, its application to studies of European integration and the EU has been much scarcer. On the basis of key conceptual metaphors used in discourses on the future of the EU that we identified from the relevant literature as well as the corpus itself, we analyse Czech parties’ Euromanifestos issued between 2004 and 2014. The analysis is subsequently projected onto party positions on European integration and Euroscepticism.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    By EU finality, or European finality, we mean the debate on the future of European integration and its final state. Over 40 years ago, it was expected that the view of Europe as a ‘journey to an unknown destination’ (Serfaty 2003, p. 47) would be completed with the specification of its final destination. In this paper, we understand the debate on European finality as a debate on this final destination of European integration. The debate primarily focuses on the final form of the EU’s polity and its institutional structure and can be defined by a question: what kind of Union do stakeholders want?

  2. 2.

    For example, Hulsse (2006) and Chaban and Kelly (2017) show how EU enlargement can be metaphorically framed in terms of a road with obstacles (eu enlargement is a movement), a house with open doors (eu enlargement is a house), a process of rejuvenating a geriatric Europe (eu enlargement is a human being) or family reunification (eu enlargement is a family).

  3. 3.

    EU political finality is commonly framed in a number of metaphors. Among the most common ones are the eu is an edifice, the eu is a container, the eu is a body, the eu is a house, the eu is a centre, and the eu is a family (Kimmel 2009a; Musolff 2006).

  4. 4.

    Let us take the conceptual metaphor LIFE IS A JOURNEY as an illustration. The following metaphorical expressions are examples of expressions that are related to and construct the same conceptual metaphor: “We’ll just have to go our separate ways”, and “We are at the cross-roads” (Kövecses 2002, p. 2).

  5. 5.

    Three other unconventional metaphors were suggested: THE EU AS A JOINT-STOCK COMPANY, THE EU AS THE NEW MIDDLE AGES, and THE EU AS A RULE (Drulák 2006; Drulák and Konigová 2007). But their use remains limited and they do not present a fruitful option in relation to our research question.

  6. 6.

    The examples include expressions such as ‘balanced institutional arrangements which serve the interests of all member states’, ‘co-operation between member states rather than their integration’, or ‘states ‘equality between member states’.

  7. 7.

    The examples include expressions such as ‘speaking with one voice‘, ‘European foreign minister’, or ‘the federal model’.

  8. 8.

    The examples include expressions such as ‘permanent treaty-making’, ‘a sui generis organisation’, ‘a super-power but not a superstate’, or ‘federation of nation states’.

  9. 9.

    We are aware of the fact that our research design is built on the premise that certain lexical units linearly stand for conceptual metaphors. We know that there is no uniform agreement on the (non-)linearity of correlation between clusters of mental phenomena and clusters of their verbal manifestation in cognitive linguistics and that some scholar would rather argue that this relationship is nonlinear. However, following the tradition in research linking Conceptual Metaphor Theory and EU studies/political science (e.g. Chaban et al. 2006; Chaban and Kelly 2017; Kimmel 2009a), we believe it is sustainable to maintain the linear and direct link between mental and verbal units, i.e. taking for granted that certain lexical units (expressions) stand for conceptual metaphors since we are primarily interested in what parties’ discourses stand for and how it relates to party positions rather than underlying cognitive process. We also believe that in order to study party positions on the basis of metaphor analysis of political documents this straightforward relationship is methodologically more functional compared to a nonlinear, probabilistic relationship. Finally, we maintain that this argumentation is further strengthened by selecting theoretically-informed conceptual metaphors rooted in theories of European integration that are directly linked to party positions (and ignoring others).

  10. 10.

    Source-target pairings of metaphors usually reveal that some source domains are shared by more metaphorical expressions than other source domains. On this basis, the metaphorical expressions with the same source (i.e. related to the same conceptual metaphor) that occur with a relatively greater frequency and which appeared in a greater variety of forms constitute the dominant metaphor in this paper (metaphorical expressions that are far more frequent than the metaphorical expressions related to other conceptual metaphors). Metaphors that appeared somewhat less frequently, and with less variety of expression, were labelled as important metaphors (metaphorical expressions that are frequent but not dominant). The category of occasional metaphors referred to those that were used only once or only a few times (only a few metaphorical expressions of the given type occurred). The final category is rejected metaphors; this category refers to metaphorical expressions that were used negatively (for a similar approach, see Cortazzi and Jin 1999; Drulák 2006; Chaban et al. 2006). As a methodological convention, only one conceptual metaphor can dominate the text.

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Acknowledgements

I would like to thank all the participants at the 7th Pan-European Conference on EU Politics and the 2nd Euroacademia International Conference, the three anonymous reviewers as well as editors of Journal of International Relations and Development for helpful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts of this contribution.

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Kovář, J. Czech party positions on the EU’s finality: a conceptual metaphor approach. J Int Relat Dev 23, 462–486 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41268-018-0154-0

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Keywords

  • Metaphors
  • Political parties
  • European integration
  • Manifestos
  • Party positions