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Towards a 'Europe of Flows'? Discourse, power and space in the development of a transnational high-speed rail line in the European Union

Garcia Mejuto, D; (2015) Towards a 'Europe of Flows'? Discourse, power and space in the development of a transnational high-speed rail line in the European Union. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to contribute to the understanding of European integration through a focus on the politics surrounding transnational high-speed rail infrastructure. Although it has been argued that a discourse on the creation of a ‘Europe of Flows’ has become dominant in policy development, the spatial conflicts that this type of infrastructure involves and the wide array of political actors concerned cast doubts on the smooth development of such a space. The thesis aim is pursued through a critical approach that considers policy problems as socially constructed, seeks to reveal the power struggles in policy-making, and places space at the centre of the study of politics. Thus, an analytical framework that combines discourse analysis, social and political theories of power and a spatially-nuanced approach informed by human geography debates on scale and relationality was adopted and applied to the case of a cross-border and EU-relevant high-speed rail line in the Spanish Basque Country. The case study first demonstrates the existence of a hegemonic discourse on transport infrastructure development, which accommodated a variety of concerns according to different scalar frames and was produced and reproduced in state, private sector and mainstream media discursive arenas. Proponents of an alternative construction based on the notion of proximity unsuccessfully struggled to challenge the former from other, minor arenas. Although those actors practicing the hegemonic discourse supported the high-speed rail line, the continuing prevalence of nation-state actors and power arenas largely prevented the timely development of a truly trans-European link, in spite of the efforts of both EU institutions and several transnational networks of association. Overall, the thesis illustrates how transnational high-speed rail infrastructure policy-making shapes, rather than a frictionless ‘Europe of Flows’, a hybrid European space that results from complex struggles for discursive hegemony and effective influence in the policy process.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Towards a 'Europe of Flows'? Discourse, power and space in the development of a transnational high-speed rail line in the European Union
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Planning
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470273
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