Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - EUINDEPTH (European Identity, Cultural Diversity and Political Change)

The point of departure of most discussions on European identity is the idea that a political community needs a common set of values and references to ensure its coherence, to guide its actions and to endow them with legitimacy and meaning. It is closely connected with both cultural and political change. Contemporary globalization processes has degrading of cultural peculiarities as obverse case. Europe faces a serious menace to lose its own civilization and cultural identity. The identity issue in Europe is closely related to the democratic legitimacy deficit problem, to European citizenship issues, to the increasing importance of regional identities. The academic community is seeking to analyze processes of European identity construction, to evaluate existing identity policies and to promote democratic approaches in this field.
European identity problems in Russian public discourse have several dimensions: the research of the historical and cultural processes in Europe, studies of the constructing of a European identity and Russian perceptions of Europe and the EU, the relevance of Europe and the perception of belonging to Europe for Russian national identity. Nature of links between Russia and Europe performs intertwining of both common and distinct genetic roots, as well as combination of commonality and singularity of historical development ways. Now a dramatically new challenge urges – to design a new paradigm of the world policy, ethic paradigm of political relationship conserving and developing traditions of European civilization. There is a need to conserve diversity of European culture when ideological rivalry is pushed out by a new kind: globalism and universalism as an expression of principle of universal versus conservatism and traditionalism.
Now we are observing the value-laden discord in EU-Russia relations. EU-Russia Partnership for Modernization initiative becomes the elegant tool to fill a long pause up to New Basic Agreement. We need the new strategy based on idea of our common future of European civilization, its development In order to achieve the goal we need time for structuring new generation of politicians and enhancing base for Russia-EU dialogue through active involvement of research community, intensifying dialogue on the level of experts, working groups and civil society focusing on basic issues of European civilization, evolution of its values and capacity to address both internal (risk to lose identity) and external challenges.
The main objective of the proposal is to identify commonality and diversity in perception of Europe from the side of the EU and the nearest neighbour countries – Russia and Moldova, to propose expert recommendations on development of the EU Partnerships Strategies with neibouring counties.
The project will contribute to mutual understanding among representatives of renowned national political schools, to development of intercultural communications and comparative evaluation of similarities and differences of views from European, Russian and Moldavian experts in the field of European studies. The strategic aim is to seek to overcome contradictions on the issue of perception of what Europe is, on its geographical and cultural borders, to develop a common understanding of what people in the project partner countries read into the words “being a European”.

Project objectives are:
- to develop a common methodology of the cross-country serveys
- to identify the frontiers of Europe by perception of European, Moldavian and Russian sides,
- to identify the unity and diversity in perception of Europe in the EU and non EU-countries (Russia, Moldova)
- to develop a taxonomy of cultural groups’ politicization, identity policies and conflict management on the base of the evaluation of regional and local identities as socio-cultural and political recources
- to observe the phenomena of European identity in EU and non EU-countries (Russia, Moldova)
- to investigate the issue of cultural security and cultural violence in multiethnic European region, spreading the output of the research on the both European and international level. These tasks can be fulfilled with support of strong, competitive and well organized research entity
- to prepare the expert recommendations for the EU Partnerships Strategies, based on commonality and diversity in perception of Europe
Project consortium covers different European regions: Central, Northen, Southern, Western and Eastern, and different Russian regions: Central, South, Siberia, Ural and Volga. The proposed research project brings together 7 European universities and research centres from France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Belguim, Portugal, Hungary, 7 institutions from Russian Federation and research institute from Moldova. It is founded on existing cooperation in the frame of international networks and associations of European Studies and will enhance the already active collaboration in the fields of European identity and cultural diversity. The establishment of this staff exchange program will also promote and strengthen the complementarity of the participants involved and will boost collaborative research activities.
The primary objective of this international and interdisciplinary group of research team is to establish an excellent center of synergy in research and knowledge transfer in the area of European studies. It is supposed to establish long lasting collaborations through exchange of people and realization of different activities, including meetings and workshops.

Project strategy
The definition of Europe could be based to a certain extend on the analysis of representations. Representations are usually defined as a set of knowledge and believes encoded in memory and that can be mentally extracted and manipulated (Dortier, 2002). Representations of objects and concepts are used to “read” and “understand” the world around us, but it is also mobilized to make plans and take decisions. The objects on which we have representations are at the same time cognitive schemes and social representations varying in space and time. The representations shared by a community (group of persons, but also national community...), are one of the bases of the collective consciousness that transcends the inner social divisions contributing to a group consistency. These representations are durable and are shared by many generations. The analyses of geographical representations are based on the theory of “man’s shells” (Moles & Rohmer, 1974), a series of circles organized around individual that define the level of knowledge of different places: closer spaces are known best. Among geographers analyzing representation the precursor is K. Lynch (1960) who mainly focused on the intra urban scale before further works explore smaller scales. It is the case of P. Gould & R. White (1974) who established mental maps at the national level. In the 1970s and 1980s, T. Saarinen focused on mental maps at the world level and made many survey at this scale.
In this general framework, we will focus mainly on representation of a spatial object (Europe). Here the term “representation” can be understood as the collective or personal image (of our object “Europe”) developed by an individual at the crossroad of her/his knowledge of Europe and how much s/he appreciates it or not. Both the knowledge and appreciation should be not considered as binary solutions but as two gradients at the crossroad of which all solutions are possible at one moment (stars). A social representation is a dynamic structure that is always evolving. The maintaining and evolution of the representation is due to the influence of society and belonging groups (Bonardi & Roussiau, 1999). In consequence, both knowledge and appreciation, that can be specific to each individual, can theoretically vary in time (arrows) in many directions, and not necessarily toward a better knowledge or a better appreciation. More, the object we analyze seems rather fuzzy. It can be considered as uncertain or incomplete as the level of knowledge on Europe can varies a lot from one individual to another. It can be also considered as imprecise as each individual can develop its own definition of Europe, through his own experience and history. However, being imprecise means it is neither impossible to catch it nor to explain it or to find commons significances. Then, throughout the project we tried to catch the representation of Europe, describe it and more explain it.
Previous projects research show evidences of conflation between Europe and European Union, but the conflation level is variable in space and time and probably according to the kind of public (political representatives, civil servants, citizens).

For the surveys we used the List of cross national comparative surveys:

World Value Survey (WVS) 1994-1998 & 2005-2009
European Value Survey (EVS) 1999-2000
New European Barometer (NEB) 2004
New Democracies Barometer (NDB) 1998
European Social Survey (ESS2 & 3) 2004 & 2006
Eurobarometer (EB62.0) (2004)
European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) 2003 & 2007
Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS) 2009
Candidate Countries – Eurobarometer (CC-EB) 2003.3
International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) 1995, 2003, 2013 – National Identity

Contact

Iulia Iatco, (researcher)
Tel.: +37322725754
Fax: +37322725754
E-mail

Subjects

Life Sciences
Record Number: 192131 / Last updated on: 2016-12-15
Follow us on: RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube Managed by the EU Publications Office Top