Georgia's Europeanization: performative games and peculiarities of ‘enforced socialization’

Lia (Lika) Tsuladze is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Tbilisi State University and Executive Director of the Center for Social Sciences. She is the author of more than 25 publications and 3 textbooks. Her research interests include Georgia’s Europeanization, issues related to national identity, and civic activism. Currently she is leading a Research WP for the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Actions’ project entitled: “Mediatized EU: Mediatized Discourses on Europeanization and their Representations in Public Opinion” targeting the elite-media-public triangle in the seven countries of the EU and the EaP.

The presentation deals with elite and popular discourses on Europeanisation in Georgia from the sociological perspective, focusing on the discursive “usage” of Europeanisation. This “usage” is analysed in the context of Europeanisation mechanisms, namely, conditionality and socialisation. Despite the fact that these two concepts are divergent, in Georgians’ perceptions external demands (EU conditionality as a driver of reforms) and internal motivation (Georgia’s genuine aspiration to implement these reforms) harmoniously coexist. Moreover, Georgia’s elites and population state that it is this very combination—which we have termed “enforced socialization”—that will ensure the country’s successful Europeanisation. However, the respondents simultaneously stress the need for selective Europeanisation—that is, a careful incorporation of only selected EU standards. As a result, aspiration and resistance to EU standards are intertwined in a performative way, making the abovementioned discourses sound rather ambivalent.