The Inter-play between formal and informal practices

J.P.M. van Tatenhove, J. Mak, J.D. Liefferink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


This article deals with the interaction between formal and informal politics in the EU. First of all, it argues that the EU is a special setting for such interaction, as compared to other political systems, as a result of its speedy institutional development and multi-layered nature. Then, it briefly addresses new institutionalist and governance approaches to informality, as well as the strategic motivations behind informal practices. Four such strategies are distinguished. At the co-operative end of the spectrum informal practices may be intended either as a lubricant for applying existing rules or as an experimental garden for trying out new rules. More conflictual strategies may aim at re-directing policy substance or the application of existing rules (critical voice) or rather at circumventing those rules. On that basis, the article presents the `staging¿ of practices as a way to understand the interplay of formal and informal practices. Informality can take place in front stage settings where rules are pre-given or in backstage settings where rules are not pre-given, while at the same time these settings can be formally sanctioned or not. Besides formal front stage practices this may result in three types of informal practices: informal front stage practices, formally sanctioned backstage practices and `sub-politics¿
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-24
JournalPerspectives on European Politics and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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