Cultural Diversity, European Identity and the Legitimacy of the EU

Cultural Diversity, European Identity and the Legitimacy of the EU

Studies in EU Reform and Enlargement series

Edited by Dieter Fuchs and Hans-Dieter Klingemann

As a consequence of various rounds of EU enlargements, the degree of cultural diversity in Europe has intensified – a phenomenon which is increasingly perceived as problematic by many EU citizens. This fascinating book not only empirically explores the current state of the identity and the legitimacy of the EU as viewed by its citizens, but also evaluates their attitudes towards it.

Chapter 4: Multiple Identities and Attitudes Towards Cultural Diversity in Europe: A Conceptual and Empirical Analysis

Andrea Schlenker-Fischer

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy


Andrea Schlenker-Fischer 4.1 Introduction The self-proclaimed aim of the European Union is ‘Unity in diversity’. However it is not yet clear what actually unites European citizens1 except for institutional and economic cooperation. The lack of a ‘European demos’ is usually decried. Still, there are signs of a considerable sense of identification with Europe, which goes hand in hand with a heightened awareness that the emergence of a European demos does not necessarily mean the disappearance of national attachments. As literature in the field of social psychological research suggests, individuals hold multiple identities (Brewer 1993, 2001). This is as true in the political as in the social realm. Study after study has affirmed that it is possible and not at all unusual for citizens to identify with several territorial communities simultaneously – to feel, for example, strongly Catalan, Spanish and European at the same time (Llera 1993; Diez Medrano and Gutiérrez 2001; on multiple identities in Belgium see, for example, Billiet et al. 2003; in general: Duchesne and Frognier 1995, 2008; Laffan 1996; Marks 1999; Bruter 2003; Citrin and Sides 2004). While identification with Europe is increasing among elites and ordinary citizens alike (Risse 2004, p. 270), attachment to one’s country has remained stable in general (Citrin and Sides 2004, p. 169). Yet are we witnessing a uniform trend across all member states? Given the prevalence of the nationstate as the arena of public discourse and as the frame of shared representations for collective identities, it comes as no surprise that...

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