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Christopher Mathieu

Christopher Mathieu

Associate Professor | Senior Lecturer

Christopher Mathieu

The Moral Life of the Party : Moral Argumentation and the Creation of Meaning in the Europe Policy Debates of the Christian and Left-Socialist Parties in Denmark and Sweden 1990-1996


  • Christopher Mathieu

Summary, in English

This thesis analyzes moral argumentation and meaning creation in the process of programmatic policy formulation in the Christian People's Party and Socialist People's Party in Denmark, and the Christian Democratic Party and Left Party in Sweden, focusing specifically on their policy deliberations about the European Community and the European Union from 1990-1996. The primary emphasis is not on policy outcomes per se, but rather on how moral argumentation as a form of policy deliberation is created and sustained in political parties. Contrary to contentions from two traditions skeptical towards the centrality of moral argumentation in the formulation of party policy, the "economistic"/rational choice, respective basic value relativism traditions, it is found that policy deliberation is carried out primarily in terms of substantive moral arguments rather than utility maximization, aggregating or mere procedural agreement. Similar mechanisms in each of the four parties studied create settings in which moral argumentation is carried out and sustained. In party settings moral argumentation is facilitated by the "objectification" of the normative - via the group process of evaluating and ranking current normative contentions in terms of previously evaluated and ranked normative contentions. In this way moral contentions are given varying degrees of support from a common legitimating authority - the party - and a series of collectively affirmed positions and "traditions" exist to refer to. Surreptitiously, through moral argumentation the meaning of the objects of political deliberation is created by the way they are related to central values and goals of the party. It is subsequently through reference to these socially established meanings that policy debates are carried out. Ultimately it is concluded that the norm of moral argumentation is founded upon the belief among party members, and actual operation, of these parties as moral communities.


  • Sociology

Publishing year





Lund Dissertations in Sociology



Document type



Department of Sociology, Lund University


  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)


  • policy formulation
  • European Union
  • political parties (Scandinavian)
  • moral community
  • Sociology
  • Sociologi




  • [unknown] [unknown]


  • ISSN: 1102-4712
  • ISBN: 91-89078-96-9
  • ISRN: LUSADG/SASO--99/1126--SE

Defence date

4 December 1999

Defence time


Defence place

Edens Hörsal, Lund


  • Per Olof Olofsson