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Constructing European Identity - The Construction of the European Identity from 1989 to 2018 by the Presidents of the European Commission

Author

  • Julia Löfvenberg

Summary, in English

The concept of the European identity is in this thesis regarded as being expressed as a social, political and cultural activity, constructed and narrativized by the Presidents of the European Commission. The aims of executing the research has been to detect the processual development, constant elements or differences concerning the construction of the concept by the different leaders as well as investigating which groups or countries that are enabled to the European identity. The construction of the concept might potentially be problematic, since it can affect the cultural understanding of what the European identity de facto means, and consequently, some European countries are portrayed as the ‘other’ or as threats to the European identity.

The empirical material, consisting of thirty political speeches produced and performed by the five Presidents of the European Commission between 1989 to 2018, has been analyzed with a mix of qualitative- and narrative analysis. The theoretical framework includes social constructivism, the impact of political speeches and influence of leaders when creating collective identities and the certain narrativization impact of mirroring and orientating identities through time. The historical memory, as well as the historical and European consciousness are especially efficient tools when creating group identity or identification to Europe.

The main findings highlight that the European identity has been constructed with similar elements by all the Presidents and that the emphasis on historical memory and cultural unity are of special relevance. The ingroup of the European people is always the member states of the European Community/European Union which are pictured as a family, bound together by the richness of their diversities. However, the attitudes to the aspiring member states differs, and while the states of former Yugoslavia are used as warning examples of what can happen if nationalism and fragmentation takes over in the member states, the Central and Eastern European countries are seen as family and of need to join the union due to historical ties, duty and legacy. This strengthens the Western European perspective, communicated by the leaders of the European Commission.

Department/s

Publishing year

2020

Language

English

Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)

Topic

  • Languages and Literatures

Keywords

  • European Identity
  • Narrativization
  • European Commission
  • Collective Identity
  • Historical Consciousness
  • European demos
  • European Studies

Supervisor

  • Tomas Sniegon