Crisis, Contestation and Social Order in Europe: A Sympoietic Analysis

  • Keith Cherry
Keywords: Eu, sympioetic, radical democracy, contestation


Europe is facing multiple existential crises at once. I argue that these crises are rooted in larger, older patterns of structural contestation that have always animated the EU. Drawing from these patterns, I contend that there are at least two conceptions of social order at work within the EU – an autopoietic model based on bounded hierarchy and a sympoietic model based on decentralization and compromise. I argue that the autopoietic aspects of the Union, and neo-liberal representative democracy in particular, continually produce systemic crises. At the same time, sympoietic practices of inter-institutional adjustment allow us to weather such challenges, albeit imperfectly. Ultimately, I conclude that escaping the cycle of structural crisis requires moving more definitively towards sympoiesis by radically decentralizing and democratizing political and economic power in Europe.  

Author Biography

Keith Cherry

Keith Cherry is a Canadian academic and activist. Keith received a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in Political Theory from the University of Ottawa and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Law, located on unceded Lekwungen and Wsanec territories. Keith’s current research analyzes how competing legal systems coexist on the same territory, focusing in particular on two cases: the relationship between EU and national law, and the relationship between Canadian and Indigenous law. Keith is also a community organizer active in a wide variety of social, environmental, and political struggles.


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