DOI: 10.1177/13691481241227834 ISSN: 1369-1481

The case of Brexit: How to open a critical juncture without an exogenous shock?

Nina Simeonova Barzachka
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Political Science and International Relations

The article examines Brexit through the historical institutionalist scholarship on European integration, critical junctures and institutional change. It finds that the concepts of path dependence, and critical junctures that emerge from exogenous shocks, as well as most processes of endogenous institutional transformation cannot fully account for Brexit. How can a Member State leave the European Union, if membership in the organisation produces path-dependent effects and there is no exogenous shock? To answer the question, the article introduces the concept of a hybrid critical juncture – a period of increased contingency and uncertainty that is created gradually by a combination of exogenous and endogenous causes and agency. The article examines the events that led to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU to demonstrate how the hybrid critical juncture concept explains Brexit. The analysis contributes to understanding potential future European disintegration and incremental institutional transformation broadly defined.

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