Markets and Moral Regulation: Cultural Change in the European Union

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Does European integration influence national cultures and social policies? Is Europe's fabled cultural diversity diminishing? In this book, Paulette Kurzer examines these important and topical questions by comparing the Irish abortion ban, Finnish and Swedish drinking restrictions, and Dutch drug decriminalization. Employing a synthesis of constructivist and institutionalist theories, Kurzer demonstrates that domestic shifts in values and attitudes, spurred along by the impact of EC/EU market integration, are in fact bringing about a convergence in European morality norms. Alcohol control policies are forced to liberalize, the Irish abortion proscription is being redefined, and Dutch drug toleration is pushed into a more punitive direction. Markets and Moral Regulation argues that a crucial agency is European law and its role as a market regulator: as market forces invade these cultural and moral spheres, protective barriers disintegrate. The result is that cultural and social domains are increasingly exposed to the influence of market competition.