After 'the collapse': Strategic selectivity, Icelandic state elites and the management of European Union accession

Julian Clark, A Jones

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Iceland's 2008 financial crisis has received considerable scholarly attention from economics and business science perspectives. Far less consideration has been given to the political administrative consequences of 'the collapse' in terms of its restructuring state-based projects and instituting new scalar strategies, and, specifically, the role played in this process by Icelandic political and policy elites. We focus on this issue by analyzing recent attempts to reconfigure Iceland's sceptical position towards the EU by promulgating state narratives of 'EUrope' as a 'safe haven' for the shattered national economy as part of the country's formal application for EU membership. We show within the Icelandic state there is, however, a highly fragmented and polarized position on EU accession. Drawing on Jessop's strategic relational approach, we demonstrate that this derives from the actions of different elite fractions seeking to establish parameters for strategic selectivity on EU accession in ways that support their own interests. 'EUrope' emerges as a complex institutional category which is both shaped by, and shapes, the rhetorical interventions and actions of Icelandic state elites in often contradictory ways, demonstrating the fundamental political dynamics of what is emerging as a fraught, fiercely contested EU accession process. We conclude that times of conflicting elite narratives are also moments of potentially significant state change. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-72
Number of pages9
JournalPolitical Geography
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


  • European Union
  • Strategic relational approach
  • State failure
  • Iceland
  • Elites


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