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The Choice for a Minilateral Europe: A Historical Sociology of Defence-Industrial Capitalism

Samuel B. H. Faure

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In order to acquire a new military transport aircraft in the 2000s, why did France decide to choose European minilateralism (A400M) rather than the alternative of Franco- American bilateralism (C-17 and C-130)? A “configurational” argument with regard to this decision is developed, using an approach that looks at the historical sociology of a political economy in arms procurement in Europe, derived from the work of Norbert Elias. This argument explains France’s choice of a minilateral Europe as resulting from the effect of social interdependence that is conceptualised by the notion of “configuration”. Establishing the positions adopted by French state and industrial actors required two years of fieldwork (2012 –2014). A total of 105 semi-structured interviews were conducted with French actors (political, military, administrative, and industrial) who took part in the negotiations from the mid-1970 to the early 2000s. Beyond presenting this data, this article contributes to the development of international political sociology by making the concept of configuration operational.

Keywords: A400M, configuration, historical sociology, political economy, minilateralism, Europe