Skip to content

Édouard Hargrove

GEM-DIAMOND doctoral fellow

ESR 1 – Dissensus over the Rule of Law in Transnational Parliamentary Arenas: The case of the European Parliament

Captivated by the nexus between law and politics, my research focuses on different instances of dissensus over the rule of law within the European Parliament.

Host Institutions

Dissensus over the Rule of Law in Transnational Parliamentary Arenas: The Case of the European Parliament


  • Ramona Coman
  • Didier Georgakakis

Research abstract

This doctoral thesis focuses on recent instances of political dissensus within the European Union surrounding an ambivalent and contentious political ideal: the rule of law. A vast literature at the crossroads of law and political science has developed around the emergence and persistence of various issues tied to the rule of law within a number of EU member states (i.e. in Hungary and Poland, but also in Bulgaria, Malta, and Greece to name a few). Alongside this burgeoning literature, a parallel stream of research has gathered around the (lack of) responses from various EU institutions by analysing the rationales and consequences of their actions vis-à-vis certain member states.

In contrast to these twin literatures, this thesis pursues a different set of questions around the following research puzzle: why do similar instances of dissensus over the rule of law tied to member states produce contrasting political outcomes at the European level? This puzzle stems from the ontological premise – in line with critical realism – that any social phenomenon is invested with alternative meanings, hence perceived through different ideational filters, which are tied to people’s beliefs, experiences, social positions, etc. No matter how objective or material some factual event may seem, there is always a subjective or immaterial component that binds itself to it and through which people make sense of it. As such, the thesis shifts the analytical focus away from the actual events across member states that scholars discuss in relation to their own conceptions of the rule of law towards the competing strategies of various EU actors to problematise these issues as such, i.e. as issues pertaining to the "rule of law". More specifically, it concentrates on the symbolic and organisational struggles of rival actors to (re)define the rule of law and (re)cast certain events in specific ways so as to produce (or preclude) certain implications and to provoke (or prevent) certain responses at the European level.

Grounded in political sociology, the thesis therefore analyses the processes through which recent instances of dissensus over the rule of law have erupted and unfolded amidst the EU institutions themselves. More specifically, it aims to uncover the discriminating factors and differential dynamics of these conflicts at the European level which can explain their uneven political outcomes therein. With this in mind, the empirical research is centred on a number of case studies where dissensus over the rule of law has become manifest within the European Parliament, which constitutes one of the more deliberative, visible, and diverse subfields of the European Union. Finally, beyond these analytical goals, the thesis aspires to make theoretical contributions to the conceptualisation of dissensus by drawing inductively from this empirical research.

Research Question(s)

How is the European Parliament, as a subfield of the European transnational field, structured in terms of its organisational configuration, its institutional culture, and the social network connections among its actors? What are the social dispositions of these actors, given their distinct positions in this subfield, their relations to other actors in other fields, their ideological beliefs, and their life trajectories? How do MEPS frame particular events so as to make them politically (un)problematic issues (un)connected to the rule of law? What are the contextual factors that condition these framing processes, hence the dynamics of dissensus, within the European Parliament?
Born and raised in Paris, I am a PhD candidate in Political and Social Sciences at the Université libre de Bruxelles and the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, under the co-supervision of Ramona Coman (ULB / IEE) and Didier Georgakakis (Paris I / CoE). My thesis explores and compares different instances of political dissensus over the rule of law at the transnational European level, with a focus on specific conflicts that have erupted within the European Parliament.

Grounded in political sociology, my primary research interests revolve around the contentious nexus between law and politics. These include the judicialisation of political issues and the politicisation of legal proceedings (i.e. lawfare, mediatised trials) as well as conflicts over fundamental rights, norms, and the division of powers (i.e. authoritarian practices in capitalist democracies, the counter-majoritarian politics of apex courts, the politics of judicial nomination). I am also interested in the social practices, network configuration, and political influence of non-academic research organisations (i.e. "think tanks") in relation to broader social and political phenomenons.

I hold a Master's degree from Sciences Po (Paris), where I took courses in political philosophy, social theory, the history of political thought, political sociology, and comparative politics. Previously, I obtained a Bachelor's degree from the University of Exeter, where I took courses in international relations, political economy, comparative politics, social theory, and the history of political thought. Besides for my studies, I have also worked as a freelance translator between French and English.

Morel, C. and Richter, F. (Eds.). (2021). Defence Cooperation in the 21st Century (C. E. Hargrove, Trans.) (IRSEM, Report No. 86).

Lever, A. (2021). De la vie privée [Unpublished Manuscript] (C.E. Hargrove Trans.). Département de Science politique, Sciences Po. (Original work published 2011).