The EU and the social sciences: A fragile relationship

Kristoffer Kropp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The position of the social sciences within European Union (EU) research policy is fragile. The social sciences have been entangled with the EU integration process throughout the organization’s trajectory; still, social sciences have only lately been integrated into EU research policy in a marginal position. Drawing on Bourdieu’s generic field analysis, this article analyses the struggles over the position of the social sciences within EU research policies from the early 1990s until today. First, the analysis shows how the social sciences were included in EU research policies with the simultaneous establishment of the European field of social science through the formation of scientific associations, journals and European research infrastructures. Second, it focuses on the struggle over the position of the social sciences in Horizon 2020. This analysis shows how social-science researchers mobilized social and political capital in the efforts to organize and implement the H2020 to ensure the presence of social-science issues and researchers in the programme despite the dominance of other sciences and political issues. Overall, the analysis is a reminder of the generally subordinate position of the social sciences, particularly in EU research policies, but it also shows that well-organized social sciences can participate in organizing research funding and ensure representation of otherwise marginalized research fields.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological Review
VolumeOnline First
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a Sapere Aude Grant from Independent Research Fund Denmark (Grant no: 7024-00054B).


  • Bourdieu
  • EU
  • Europe
  • research funding
  • social science

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