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The identity of 'us, the Europeans' considered

European researchers examined the diversity of European identities in nine countries. They identified commonalities as well as the specifics of each country, focusing on how self-definitions are formulated and maintained in societal, cultural and systemic settings.

Climate Change and Environment

As European expansion and integration continues, the IME project addressed three major issues concerning European identities: what they are, how they were formed, and what trajectories they may take. Research focused on national identity construction programmes and politics, culture, history and religion. The countries studied were Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Turkey and the United Kingdom. A common set of questions were studied in order to better understand the diversity of European identities across the continent as well as within a single country. In IME, European identities referred to definitions of 'us, the Europeans', as proposed and acted upon by different actors in and around Europe. Considering the question of identity in modern societies, the study followed the theory of multiple modernities in order to also assess the feasibility of its use as a framework for the specific topic. This allowed project members to examine modernisation as a complex process as well as the influence and importance of secularisation, rationalisation and material progress. As such, IME challenged so-called conventional wisdom about European identities, especially the assumption that their different expressions will in time converge, forming a single, unified European identity. To examine processes of identity construction, IME members used qualitative methods to delve into the role of the state and the EU, of various non-state actors (e.g. cultural bodies, the media), and of individuals in the private sphere. Three sets of case studies were carried out in each country to account for four factors: type of state, strength of civil society, dominant religious tradition and geopolitical historical legacies. Theoretical as well as field work generated in-depth data relevant to each country, as well as cross-national comparisons. In this way, IME was also able to capture shifts in European identities over time with findings highlighting their highly dynamic and fluid nature. IME research outcomes contribute significantly to the body of knowledge on European identities. Findings are significant for policymaking, especially with regard to integration. They also form an important foundation for further research, as discussions of the identity of Europe continue in a period of changing political climates and socioeconomic circumstances.

Keywords

European identity, identity construction, European expansion, integration, theory of multiple modernities, modernisation

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