In This Review

Markets and Moral Regulation: Cultural Change in the European Union
Markets and Moral Regulation: Cultural Change in the European Union
By Paulette Kurzer
Cambridge University Press, 2001, 210 pp

Anyone interested in alcohol, drugs, abortion, morality, cultural change, and Europe should read this book. Kurzer examines, inter alia, the antialcohol policies in Finland and Sweden, the lenient drug policy of the Netherlands, and the clash between "Irish moral conservatism and European sexual permissiveness." She points out that national regulation of alcohol has come under attack from the European Union's free marketers, while the EU's focus on drugs as an issue of public order collides with the Dutch policy of drug decriminalization. Kurzer concludes that the real agents of cultural change have been not new institutions but Europeans themselves, as they embrace greater individualism. By taking advantage of the removal of borders within Europe, these people have become "Europeanized" in their cultural consumption even before the advent of the single currency. On the other hand, the EU offers no alternative institutional model to which national arrangements can conform. Hence real cultural change is slow and piecemeal. The member states have lost some cultural autonomy, but the disappearance of national cultural identities is far away.