Imagining another Europe: Building a pan-European counter-hegemonic bloc around an anti-austerity master frame

Christian Scholl*, Annette Freyberg-Inan

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Going beyond the local and national scopes of anti-austerity mobilizations, we contribute to this special issue by focusing on counter-hegemonic protest at the pan-European level. In the context of the current austerity regimes, this emerging and precarious social formation enacts resistance against neoliberal hegemony and invokes the re-construction of European institutional arrangements and policy from below in explicit opposition to the dominance of austerity. We employ a neo-Gramscian approach complemented by framing theory to scrutinize the development of a pan-European counter-hegemonic bloc, focusing empirically on two key current pan-European initiatives: the Alter Summit platform and the Blockupy alliance. Our analysis unravels the process by which different progressive social movement frames become increasingly aligned through reference to an anti-austerity master frame with three key elements: (a) the rejection of austerity measures, (b) coordinated transnational solidarity, and (c) the defense of democracy and popular sovereignty. This master frame has the potential of supporting stronger pan-European counter-hegemonic mobilization and thereby facilitating a counter-hegemonic bloc opposing neoliberal hegemony. However, our analysis also reveals three challenges for our counter-hegemonic initiatives. First, concrete institutional alternatives are still weakly elaborated and articulated, which gives the force of rejection of the austerity master frame little direction and testifies to deeper structural disagreement within anti-austerity movements. Second, insofar as concrete institutional counter-proposals are made, they still remain entrenched in national frameworks. And, third, counter-hegemonic movements aspiring to be truly pan-European need to reconcile conflicting tendencies between those who want to re-found and those who want to exit from the European integration project.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)103-125
    Number of pages23
    JournalComparative European Politics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


    • austerity
    • protest
    • counter-hegemony
    • social movements
    • Europe
    • framing
    • CRISIS

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