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A way of critique: What can EU law scholars learn from critical theory?

Neuvonen, Päivi J.

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This article detects a persistent imbalance between the zest for critical research and the thinness of critical methodology in the study of European Union (EU) law. The question that drives this investigation is: What can critique contribute to EU legal studies? The article draws on the methodological wealth of critical social theory to explicate how the critique of EU law could further evolve and why it matters. This analysis posits that the lack of adequate methodological engagement leaves EU law scholarship to drift between the problematic idea of unmasking critique, on the one hand, and that of supposedly non-normative critique, on the other hand. The article makes a case for a more dialectical method of critique to clarify how the critique of EU law is always preceded by a choice between competing rationalisations of society. These findings highlight that social theory should be of continuous interest to EU law scholars and that a socio-legal critique of EU law is not reducible to empirical research alone.


Neuvonen, P. J. (2022). A way of critique: What can EU law scholars learn from critical theory?. European Law Open, 1(1), 60-88.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 2, 2022
Online Publication Date Apr 6, 2022
Publication Date 2022-03
Deposit Date May 5, 2022
Publicly Available Date May 5, 2022
Journal European Law Open
Print ISSN 2752-6135
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 1
Issue 1
Pages 60-88


Published Journal Article (424 Kb)

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Copyright Statement
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that no alterations are made and the original article is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained prior to any commercial use and/or adaptation of the article.<br /> <br /> © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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