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 5: National and European Identity: The Case of France

Isabelle Guinaudeau

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy


Isabelle Guinaudeau 5.1 Introduction Between ‘the spectre of Turkey’, which in plain language refers to Muslims, and the unfortunate Polish plumber, foreigners have been asked to stay at home. Le Pen is xenophobic, it’s his business, but that the leaders of the left should carry out a campaign in this area, like Chirac in 2002 on insecurity, one would have thought such xenophobia unthinkable...1. (Serge July, editorial in Libération, the day after the 2005 French referendum on the European Constitution) The persistence of national identities is often considered the principal cause of what many deem a weak European identity; it is also cited as the source of Euroscepticism more broadly. Indicatively, the French rejection of the European Constitution in a 2005 referendum was widely interpreted as being rooted in a strong French national identity.2 This diagnosis presupposes that identity is an essential determinant of political support – a plausible relationship theorized by Weber (2005) and Easton (1965). It also assumes that there is a tension between national and European identity. This second assumption is far from self-evident and is hotly debated by social psychologists, political scientists and sociologists. Social psychologists today agree on the basic compatibility of multiple identities. As Turner et al. (1987) have shown, every individual has multiple identities in different degrees of abstraction. These identities become salient in specific situations (see also Thoits 1983; Stryker and Burke 2000). A large number of studies have verified this finding with regard to European and national identities, concluding that the...

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