Dead Ends and Blind Spots in the European Semester: The Epistemological Foundation of the Crisis in Social Reproduction

Rosalind Cavaghan, Anna Elomäki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


This article provides new perspectives on the persistent hierarchy between ‘social’ and ‘economic’ goals in European Union's (EU) economic governance. We operationalize insights from feminist economics and political economy to analyse the agenda-setting documents of the European Semester – the Annual Growth Surveys (AGS) – showing how the much-debated integration of social goals into the European Semester is fundamentally constrained by mainstream economic epistemologies. These epistemologies misrepresent interrelationships between the productive economy and the reproductive labour needed to maintain it. Using interpretive policy analysis, we show how multiple concepts and measurements used to conceptualize policy goals and impacts within the AGSs, coalesce to systematically misrepresent reproductive labour as a ‘social’ activity, an irrelevance, or a cost, rather than a macroeconomic input. This restricts the possibilities of enhancing the social dimension of the European Semester, in ways conspicuously ignored by the existing literature, which are of heightened salience in the wake of Covid-19.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies
Issue number4
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • annual growth survey
  • economic knowledge
  • European semester
  • reproductive economy
  • social reproduction

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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