What Is Europe? Meanings of Europe in Different Social Contexts

Saturday, March 15, 2014
Diplomat (Omni Shoreham)
Jörg Rössel , Universität Zürich
Georg Datler , Sociology, University of Zurich
Julia Schroedter , University of Zurich
Current research on European identification has a strong deconstructive bent: firstly, several researchers have shown, that European identity is not one thing, but has two or more dimensions, e. g. a cultural European identity or a political European identity. Furthermore, prevailing types of European identitiy differ between countries in Europe and even the meaning of Europe differs for those with a European identity. In our research we take a step back and focus on the object of identification: Europe. What do people mean when they use the concept of Europe? We analyze how the concept of Europe does not only come up in the explicit discourse of our respondents, but how it turns out to be relevant for their social practices like travelling, looking for jobs, finding a spouse and moving (or being sedentary). The interplay between standardized and qualitative data enables us to reconstruct which meaning respondents attach to the concept of Europe. Furthermore, we study in an exploratory way the possible causal antecedents of different meaning structures: the socioeconomic position of our respondents, which in past research has had a predominant influence on identification with Europe and secondly, the transnational experiences and relations of the interviewees which is, as we show, of prime importance to explain supranational identification. Based on our empirical analysis, our aim is to demonstrate that the strength of identification with Europe is linked with different meanings of Europe for persons in different social contexts (socioeconomic positions, transnational experiences).
  • Datler_Roessel_Schroedter2014_What_is_Europe.pdf (195.7 kB)