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Identities and modernities in Europe: European and national identity construction programmes and politics, culture, history and religion

Final Report Summary - IME (Identities and modernities in Europe: European and national identity construction programmes and politics, culture, history and religion)

Executive Summary:

The ‘identities and modernities in Europe:

European and national identity construction programmes, politics, culture, history and religion’ (IME) project investigated European identities in Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Turkey and the United Kingdom. IME looked into the diversity of European identities as it manifested in the nine cases. It examined the various ways in which these diverse self-definitions were formulated and maintained in different societal, cultural and systemic settings and in which they were interacting with various processes and forces. It identified commonalities among diverse European identities in the nine cases as the basis of grounded projection of possible trajectories European identities may take as the processes of European integration continue.

What are European identities?

The nine IME research teams trying to answer the same set of questions produced diverse findings on European identities. European identities were diverse because ‘Europe’ occupies different places in people’s lives and because people’s experiences of ‘Europe’ are diverse. IME research teams described diversity in European identities not only across the nine cases but also within a single country. They also captured temporal shifts in European identities, the diversity across the temporal dimension. There was no straightforward answer to the question, ‘what are European identities?’ There was simply no single, hegemonic European identity that could be defined for European identities were found to be highly dynamic and fluid.

In what ways have they been formed?

The nine case studies carried out for IME pointed to a certain level of ambivalence about ‘Europe’; in no case was there an unquestioned, total identification with ‘Europe’. What distinguished the nine cases included each country’s specific path to modernity, nation- and state- formation, geo-politics as well as the degree to which this ambiguity about ‘being European’ mattered. In some cases, the question of Europe triggered an intense level of self-reflection; in some other cases, the question was not linked to self-reflection and dealt with in an instrumental manner. IME consortium found that diverse European identities were formed under the influence of a multitude of factors.

Commonalities of European identities

While IME research confirmed the diversity of European identities, it also identified some commonalities in the views of European identities suggested by peoples of Europe.

Europe as a moral community: This was particularly visible in relation to the discussion of the place of religion in education. There was a shared understanding that ‘as Europeans, we respect the individual’s autonomy and freedom and uphold the principle of equality’.

‘Being European is being modern’: IME research also found that the idea that ‘being European is being modern (advanced, wealthy, politically stable, efficient)’ was shared in some of the nine countries investigated.

A neo-liberal Europe: When opposition to ‘Europe’ was expressed, an understanding of Europe as imposition that undermines national traditions/ways of doing things, democracy and so on became visible. What was notable was that this understanding was aired as something people did not identify with; it was not ‘their’ Europe.

IME research yielded rich and detailed findings that added to the body of knowledge of European identities, which is the indispensable background to policy –making and further research.

Project Context and Objectives:

IME investigated European identities. European identities in this project referred to a wide range of definitions of ‘us, the Europeans’ proposed and acted upon by various actors in and around the current European Union (EU), in particular in nine cases: Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. The project addressed three major issues regarding European identities: what they are, in what ways they have been formed and what trajectories they may take from now on. IME first investigated the diversity of European identities as it manifested in the nine cases. It then examined the various ways in which these diverse self-definitions were formulated and maintained in different societal, cultural and systemic settings and in which they were interacting with various processes and forces. The IME research teams then worked to identify commonalities among diverse European identities in the nine cases as the basis of grounded projection of possible trajectories European identities might take as the processes of European integration continued.

‘Who are we?’ is indeed a perennial question; it is at the same time a very modern one in that modernity is characterised with the unprecedented degree of self-reflexivity exercised by various individuals as a autonomous agent. The question of identity, therefore, never loses its urgency and relevance in modern society.

The question of European identities is particularly urgent in today’s society as the level of contestation regarding the identity of Europe has risen to a new height for a number of reasons, many of which are clearly related to the EU integration processes. To begin with there is a now familiar problem of ‘democratic deficit’ in the EU. Fifty years have passed since the founding of the current EU but the levels of identification with and active participation in it among the citizens remain low. There is also a real crisis of governance in the EU with the dramatic and successful expansion of its membership, which, some fear, would lead to further alienation of the citizens. The saga of the constitutional treaty, one of the proposed remedies for the crisis, has clearly highlighted the depth of the problem. More recently the euro crisis which has been compounded by effects of the global financial crisis of 2008 has intensified resistance and opposition to ‘Europe’. In short, the very raison d’être of the EU is now contested.

Needless to say the EU is not the same as Europe, but there is no denying that the perception of the EU being in deep crises has made the issue of European identities more salient. Furthermore, the idea of Europe has recently been politicised yet again because of the spread of the ‘clash of civilisations’ theory. Asking ‘What is Europe?’ and ‘Who are the Europeans?’ is no longer an academic pursuit but an endeavour which has direct repercussions both on the domestic and international levels. Asking these questions in today’s Europe is now a political act, another reason why the question of identity is urgent and relevant. In a wider context, the relentless advance of globalisation is also adding to the pressure to ask the question, ‘who are we?’. Arising from this context, IME aimed to provide synthetic and more comprehensive understanding of European identities lived and expressed by peoples of Europe so as to build the basis on which these pressing concerns can be addressed better by peoples of Europe.

In tackling these big issues, the project used the theory of multiple modernities as its guiding light. The theory of multiple modernities has been developed because of a shared recognition that the conventional modernisation stories do not explain the diversity in modernisation processes observed across the world. The conventional modernisation theories typically describe modernisation as a linear process such as secularisation and rationalisation. According to the conventional view, becoming modern is to be liberated from the irrational, or ‘magic’, such as religion and ascribed status such as caste and class. Becoming modern means, in the conventional view, to be oriented towards and shaped by belief in achievement, scientific outlook to the world and rational thinking. In short, the conventional modernisation theories regard becoming modern as the same as discarding the traditional. Accordingly, the question of identity in modern societies in this line of thinking has to be understood as part of secularisation, rationalisation and material progress.

On the other hand, the theory of multiple modernities, which has been developed as a critique of the conventional modernisation theories, rejects their teleological tendency. Instead, the theory of multiple modernities proposes to understand modernisation as a complex process in which various political and cultural programmes are proposed and reformed in response to the specificity that characterises a particular society. The theory of multiple modernities agrees with the conventional modernisation theories that modernity’s distinctiveness is found in the centrality of human agency. It therefore draws attention to the outcomes of human self-reflexivity which leads to perpetual self-correction. Because modern human beings are self-reflexive and constantly engages with self-correction, modernisation is never a linear and homogenising process but manifests itself in a variety of forms. There are a number of ways of becoming and being modern, in other words. Because the theory of multiple modernities rejects the assumption that modernisation is a homogenising process, it allows the researcher to investigate modernity from different angles without basing on the teleological assumption that being modern ultimately means being the same. In particular, because the theory of multiple modernity does not disregard the continuing influence of traditions as something to disappear as modernisation progresses, it is better placed to evaluate the influence of traditions on the formation of and maintenance of identity as human beings become modern. At the most abstract level, to sum up, the project tested whether the theory of multiple modernities is a useful framework to understand the diversity of European identities and therefore to serve as a valid basis for the projection of the future of European identities.

Cast in this framework, European identities can be conceptualised as a number of competing answers proposed by a range of self-reflexive individuals to the question ‘who are we, Europeans?’. Such answers are of course constrained by structural factors shaped by a variety of historical experiences. The diversity of European identities would then be better conceptualised and investigated as reflecting a large, complex combination of different individuals’ experiences, different processes and forces they are reacting to.

Based on these considerations, the project challenged the conventional wisdom about European identities. It challenged the teleological implication which lay behind much of the discussions of European identities, in particular the assumption that various expressions of European identity would eventually converge to produce a single, unified European identity. This arises mainly as a consequence of particular attempts to draw a parallel between the evolution of national and European identities. It is often assumed that European identities are national identity wit large, and because national identity is often seen as a construct imposed upon by the powerful modern states, European identities are also understood as the products of top-down programmes pushed forward by trans-European elite and the evolving EU and its members.

Since nationalism and national identity are often associated with modernity, they are also closely linked to the idea of secularisation. In fact some would maintain that nationalism and, by implication, national identity is a secular form of religion, civil religion. Consequently, European identities are more often than not discussed as a measure of secularisation and the role of religion in forming and maintaining European identities is frequently played down. The theory of multiple modernities offers grounds to challenge these conventional views. It agrees that the modern, territorial states, or nation-states, are among the most powerful actors in the modern world, but it also suggests there are other actors at various levels – religious organisations, non-state groupings, minorities and individuals - which are actively proposing their own programmes of identity formation.

IME therefore examined not only the role of the state and the EU but also that of a range of non-state actors in identity construction processes. Based on these concerns, IME set out to test the following three main hypotheses:

• European identities are not a top-down affair. They are products of interaction among competing programmes of identity construction and maintenance proposed by various actors;
• The diversity of European identities can be explained by one of or a combination of following dimensions: the type of state, dominant religious heritage, material development and geo-political historical legacies;
• Commonalities in European identities will be found along cultural groupings such as the civilisational constellations.

IME investigated European identities mainly through qualitative methods because of their strength in capturing the ways human agency works. The investigation focused on three groups of actors. The first group contains states and the EU (included in this group of actors due to its intergovernmental nature) and the project paid attention to their cultural, media and religio-ethnic minority policies as their attempt in identity construction and maintenance. The relationship between national and European identities emerged as one of the most salient issues to be analysed at this stage. This was also where institutional politics of identity was investigated. The second group consisted of non-state, professional and collective actors such cultural bodies, the media, political parties, advocacy groups for religio-ethnic minorities, and religious organisations. The focus was on the interaction between state/EU policies and their programmes of identity construction. The relationship between the state and civil society and the way political power was exercised in identity construction programmes were two of the issues that were examined. The third group consisted of individuals in the private sphere. The scope of agency of individuals was investigated and one of the issues that were addressed was the elite-mass relationship, yet another dimension of power relationship, which was held to have significant bearing on European identities.

In line with the above research design the IME research teams carried out three sets of case studies in each of the nine countries under study. The case studies were chosen to cover a number of variables such as the type of state, the strength of civil society, dominant religious tradition, geo-political historical legacies. The project tested the hypotheses by way of a series of thematic, cross-national comparison along several axes of comparison.

The project therefore had the following objectives:

• To map the diversity of European identities across the cases studied in relation to four factors: type of state, type of religion, the strength of civil society and geo-historical and geo-political background;
• To analyse in each case how European identities have evolved within the specific historical context in relation to other forms of identification, especially national identity;
• To investigate the role of the EU integration processes in modifying the contemporary identities, especially in its relationship to national and religio-ethnic identities;
• To examine the extent to which religio-ethnic minorities influence identity construction programmes of the majority, and their unique contribution to the articulation of European identities;
• To seek commonalities in European identities across the cases by way of systematic comparisons;
• To test the validity of theory of multiple modernities as a sound basis for projecting the trajectory of the future of European identities

Project Results:
IME (Identities and modernities in Europe: European and national identity construction programmes, politics, culture, history and religion) adopted a qualitative approach to achieve the following six objectives:

• To map the diversity of European identities across the cases studied in relation to four factors: type of state, type of religion, the strength of civil society and geo-historical and geo-political background;
• To analyse in each case how European identities have evolved within the specific historical context in relation to other forms of identification, especially national identity;
• To investigate the role of the EU integration processes in modifying the contemporary identities, especially in its relationship to national and religio-ethnic identities;
• To examine the extent to which religio-ethnic minorities influence identity construction programmes of the majority, and their unique contribution to the articulation of European identities;
• To seek commonalities in European identities across the cases by way of systematic comparisons;
• To test the validity of theory of multiple modernities as a sound basis for projecting the trajectory of the future of European identities

The IME research teams generated rich and in-depth data. In what follows, how these objectives were achieved is outlined for each stage of IME research.

Stage1: Theoretical work

In the first stage of IME investigation, the theoretical and methodological framework based on which IME empirical research were to be carried out was articulated. In other words, this was the stage in which ‘stock-taking’ of theoretical and methodological issues relating to research into European identities took place. The outcome of this stage was the theoretical report which discussed a range of points including:

• European identities have both political and normative dimensions and are intricately linked to the question of legitimation of the European project;
• European identities have been conventionally studied from a ‘top-down’ perspective, which means that European citizens are often thought as a passive recipient of the elite’s message;
• Recently, the scholarly community has been witnessing a gradual re-orientation towards qualitative approaches to the study of European identities. This has led to more emphasis placed on the importance of investigation into the role of agency of peoples of Europe and to encouragement to adopt a multi-disciplinary perspective in an investigation into European identities;
• So far three processes have been identified as promoters of identification with Europe: interest (‘wealth’, ‘peace’, ‘human rights’ and so on); increased interaction among Europeans and the emergence of ‘banal nationalism’ at the European level;
• European identities are conventionally seen as having a conflictive relationship with national identity. However studies so far suggest that a large number of people in Europe are happy to accept a dual identity structure usually in the form of ‘nationality first, European second’.
The theoretical report also examined the theory of multiple modernities in details as part of preparation for empirical research. The theory of multiple modernities was developed by scholars of comparative sociology and historical sociology in their attempt to understand the patterns of development of modernity as well as the relationship between the West and the East. The report summarised a number of theoretical points that would be useful for IME empirical research, including:

• Modernity should not be understood as a linear and homogenising process, but as a story of continual creation and self-correction of political and cultural programmes;
• Modernity is characterised by the centrality of human agency. In other words, what is modern is the outcomes of human reflexive nature;
• There are a number of ways of becoming and being modern – being a self-reflective agent;
• Following these points, collective identities should not be taken as the ‘given’ but as results of conscious human actions to create and negotiate different meanings attached to collective identities;
• Case in this framework, European identities should be conceptualised as a future-oriented sociological project, social work-in-progress, or a project of being or even becoming European;
• Theory of multiple modernities, because it acknowledges the multiplicity and contested nature of modernity and because it places emphasis on the importance of human agency, it is a suitable framework for investigating the inherent diversity as well as the similarities of European identity.
The first stage of IME research work concentrated on preparing the conceptual and theoretical ground on which empirical research and analyses of findings should be carried out. As such, it was relevant to all six project objectives and in particular, had direct relevance to the sixth objective ‘to test the validity of theory of multiple modernities as a sound basis for projecting the trajectory of the future of European identities’.

Stage 2: Critical review of literature: Various paths to modernity

The starting phase of IME’s empirical research was a critical review of relevant scholarly literature on the nine cases studied in IME (Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Turkey and the UK) highlighting different ways in which ‘Europe’ was reflexively made sense of, mainly by intellectuals and political elites, in relation to their encounter with modernity. These initial reviews shed light on the ways in which the different meanings attached to ‘Europe’ influenced on articulation of national identity and European identity in each case. The most important outcome of this stage is therefore the mapping of the different constellations of ‘Europe, nations and modernity in the nine countries. Stages 1 and 2 served the basis for the collective volume, Europe, Nations and Modernity (edited by Atsuko Ichijo) published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011. Below is a summary of findings from each case.

The country review of Bulgaria pointed out that twenty years after the fall of Communism and in the fourth year of the EU membership, Bulgarians were still uncertain about the Europeanness of their national identity and the level of their modernity. Throughout the modern Bulgarian history (since 1878), ‘Europe’ was mostly an object of aspiration for Bulgarian elites to bring the Bulgarian nation and state to the modern world but a few historical ruptures sometimes sharpened the dichotomy between the ‘us, Bulgarians’ and ‘them, Europeans’, an experience that bears similarity to the Turkish case. It was also noted that the Europeanisation process was further complicated by the significant ethnic-religious diversity and the social-economic disparities in Bulgaria.

The Croatian country review particularly highlighted the instrumental aspect of the European question. While discourse about modernity and nationality in Croatia was always connected to the discourse of Europeanisation, the European aspect, according to the case study, was prone to manipulation by political actors in their efforts to define Croatian distinctiveness. The review suggested that the degree of instrumentalisation of discourse on Europeanisation was stronger in the Croatian case than other cases.

The Finnish case pointed out that ‘Europe’ was long been incorporated in the discourse of Finnish national identity and therefore ‘Europe’ was not an issue that would spark an intense self-reflection. Since the Finnish elite on the whole took their Europenness for granted, ‘Europe as modernity’ did not feature strongly in their collective deliberation on the question ‘who are the Finns?’. The Finnish country review highlighted the salience of the language question, the proximity of the state and civil society and the secularised nature of Lutheranism in Finland as the features that distinguish Finnish modernity from others.

The French case underscored a very strong national-orientation in being a self-reflexive agent. It was pointed out that modernity was rarely referred to by intellectuals over the last century in their discussion of identity but that a range of issues, positions and divisions were constrained and reduced to a single choice between being ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ Europe in the postwar era. This came about, according to the review, because governing elites used European integration as a mean for preserving French power in the world. he review also showed that the post-war French discourse of modernity missed the chance to open up to the evolving discourses on Europeanisation. In the case of France, the self-reflection as a modern agent was accompanied by a strong national orientation, which stood in stark contrast to the findings from the German country review.

The German country review focused on main identity semantics produced by different social agents. It demonstrated discussions on German identity, a quintessentially self-reflective activity, were often conducted with explicit reference to ‘Europe’, and that as a result, German national identity was increasingly articulated as German European identity while European identity was acquiring a ‘national’ flavour. Self-reflexivity in German public discourse was therefore transnational-oriented in a clear contrast to the French case. The review pointed out that the particular definitions of what it meant to be European could not be understood in one common or diversified history of the European idea but could only be comprehended in the context of the various types of discourse in which they emerge. The review concluded that there were multiple ways of being European as there were to be modern.

The contradiction and ambivalence featured strongly in the analysis of the scholarly literature on Greece. The study contended that while ‘modernity was considered as being inherent to the core of Greek identity, it was at the same time in deep conflict and confrontation with the second core pillar of Greek identity, namely its religious particularism and strong traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church.’ The case study argued that the tension between modernity and tradition transcended modern Greek history, its political realm and the evolution of its relationship with the rest of Europe, casting the ‘Europe as modernity’ perspective as a deeply existential one. Especially in the Greek case, the theory of multiple modernities was found to be insightful in the efforts to comprehend the tripartite relationship between ‘Europe’, nations and modernity.

The critical review of literature on Hungary suggested that the ‘Europe as modernity’ framework captured well the nature of debates on Europe and modernity in Hungary for they were often one and the same. The review pointed out that the answers to the question: ‘In which sense are we, Hungarians, Europeans?’ could be considered as competing modernity projects of different actors, triggered by the deviation of Hungarian development from European development.

The case of Turkey was an especially interesting one since Turkey was often described as being at the bridge between Europe and Asia. The review of literature on the Turkish case outlined Turkey’s path to modernity which was radically different from that of other European countries. Nevertheless, the issue of ‘Europe’ was found to occupy one of the major ruptures of modern Turkey, that is, the establishment of the Kamalist regime which was built on ‘the formation of binary oppositions sustaining each other’. The analysis pointed out that it was the radicalization of dualities between different life-worlds that marked a distinctive feature of the Turkish experience of modernity, thus the question of ‘Europe’ encouraged a great degree of self-scrutiny by the Turkish elite. This led to a series of self-correcting cultural programmes which was different from Western European cases.

The UK
The critical review of literature of the British case found that ‘Europe’ rarely featured in the British public discourse. The review of public discourse in the UK found that public reflections on both ‘Europe’ and modernity were conspicuous by its absence. This led to a question if Britain was modern in the same sense as other European countries, and the study identified the Whig interpretation of history as a major contributing factor in marking out the British case as different. The Whig interpretation of history legitimised the British experience as natural and most advanced, thus preventing intellectuals from engaging with the type of self-scrutiny that is often found in other countries. While there was no denying that the agency of human beings in changing the world order was present in the British case, the type of self-reflexivity showed a different pattern from other cases investigated in IME.

All the nine country reviews pointed to a certain level of ambivalence about ‘Europe’; in no case was there an unquestioned, total identification with ‘Europe’. ‘Europe’ was always a problematic issue. What distinguished the nine cases from each other included each country’s specific path to modernity, nation- and state- formation, geo-politics as well as the degree to which this ambiguity mattered. In some cases, the question of Europe triggered an intense level of self-reflection; in some other cases, the question was not linked to self-reflection and been dealt with in an instrumental manner. The nine cases therefore formed a rather uneven spectrum.

At this stage, with the production of the state of the art reports and the collective volume, Europe, Nations and Modernity, the first three project objectives were addressed:

• To map the diversity of European identities across the cases studied in relation to four factors: type of state, type of religion, the strength of civil society and geo-historical and geo-political background;
• To analyse in each case how European identities have evolved within the specific historical context in relation to other forms of identification, especially national identity;
• To investigate the role of the EU integration processes in modifying the contemporary identities, especially in its relationship to national and religio-ethnic identities.

Stage 3: Fieldwork stage

IME investigated European identities by conducting case studies of nine countries involved and the critical review of scholarly literature outlined above was the major preparatory step for ensuing fieldwork. The fieldwork was carried out through qualitative methods, namely in-depth interviews and discourse analysis of the interview transcripts and other text obtained during the fieldwork, because of their strength in capturing the ways human agency works. The fieldwork was carried out with three groups of actors: state and the UK actors, civil society activities and ordinary citizens.

The first phase of fieldwork: Actors at the state and the EU levels

The state and EU actors’ discourse was mainly investigated through policy document analysis backed up with in-depth interviews with policy officials if appropriate. The investigation into the state and EU actors’ discourse found that there was ample material related to identity issues in the policy area of education as opposed to the state’s external promotional programmes (tourism, cultural diplomacy, etc). The outlines of major findings from each case at this phase are presented below.

In the discourse of political parties, which headed the Bulgarian governments over the past decade, ‘EU’ and ‘European’ were synonyms for ‘modernity’. From the viewpoint of the state actors, Bulgaria was not modern enough in a number of areas. The administrative capacity of the state administration, the health care sector, the infrastructure and transport, the energy sector, industry and agriculture, the police and armed forces, and education and science were listed as sectors that have to be modernised.

Despite the strong dedication to doing things ‘the European way’, the prevailing focus on improvement and modernisation of technical/material issues clearly showed that the Bulgarian state continued to understand modernity much like the Communist regimes had done: as industrial advancement and economic development with the ultimate goal of catching up with the Western (industrially) developed societies.

Europe played an exceptionally visible role in the state discourse on education and education related issues. The way in which terms ‘Europe’ and ‘European’ were used clearly implied that Bulgaria was considered merely a country in Europe, but not a European country. In other words, it was thought that a number of actions needed to be taken to move the country closer to the European ideal and ultimately to finish its complete makeover – full integration into the European political, economic and cultural space.

The state actors were found to have a rather instrumental understanding of modernity and modernisation as pursued in the field of education and they appeared to place an emphasis on the material side such as teaching via modern blackboards, fieldtrips and more attractive textbooks. In contrast less emphasis was placed on the modernity as a human self-reflexivity and critical thinking.

Croatian authorities were promoting Europeanism and European values, as well as the need for overall Europeanization of the country. In this sense, it could be stated that the state as an actor in identity construction program was trying to enforce the Europeanization on the Croatians and this process was to start from the early ages with a goal to create European-oriented citizenship. However, the emphasis was largely placed on strengthening the national aspect and this was justified with so called European policies of preserving the local while respecting global.

The analysis of state actors’ discourse drew attention to education as being at the core of the Finnish national project; the basic rights and the duties the citizens must fulfil within the elementary school system have thus shaped the Finnish self-experience and identity. The analysis of three development plans for education and research, between the years 1991 and 2008, showed that the discourse on education has moved from 1) keeping up and exceeding the European reference group, towards 2) maintaining high standards in education on European and global level, and finally 3) Europe merely as a reference group to which the nation wants to identify itself. The outcome showed that there is a flux in the desired place of Finland and there was really no clear direction for the orientation of the nation.

There was a referential ‘other’ in education, but it varied from time to time so that it could be Northern countries, Europe and the EU or the global world. Compared with previous decades it became evident that education and research had a new discursive core; education was no longer an internal affair, or an unwritten contract between the individual citizen and the state, but a contextualized object that was emphasising the external meaning; education was needed for the boosting of the nation in an international context. This was a meaningful leap, from the private/public good to a more instrumental and market oriented discourse. Education was one of the last institutions to be put on the neoliberal display and to be a target for competition.

Europe had only a very limited place in state actors’ discourses. In recent school curricula and guidelines, Europe was labelled in terms of ‘belonging’ and ‘citizenship’, but overall this European dimension actually remained limited. The study of entities other than the nation clearly privileged Europe. Significant changes in this field concerned the history curricula, particularly in secondary education. Europe and Europeans (most often from the Western part of the continent) became to some extent the relevant geographic entity. Relevant actors of many historical periods, events and developments were also dealt with in history lessons. However, this was less true for contemporary history in secondary education, which was more globalized than Europeanized. In addition, the narration of the political unification of Europe – the EU level – was not central in the history curricula. In the citizenship education curricula, the national point of view remained central. The global world gained more and more relevance, implying a new level of universality (beyond French ‘universalism’) and positive political values through increasing references to human rights. As to Europe, it was associated to values such as peace, democracy and human rights too, but in a limited manner compared to the French nation or to the global world. European citizenship was just juxtaposed to the national citizenship, without altering it or being articulated with it.

The major finding in the German case study comes from the state actors’ discourse on religion and Europe as appeared in policy documents on education. In the contestation of the role of religion in Germany, the reference to Europe played a central role. Germany, as an embodiment of European countries, stressed on the one hand its secularity and on the other its fundamental religious freedom. At the same time public sphere discourse returned again and again to a notion of Occidental Christian Leitkultur vs. Islam. The examination of the ways in which a complimentary identity construction was formed within internal and foreign politics suggested that Germany entered into the dialogue as a representative of Occidental Christian values with an ‘Islamic world’, among which those Muslims currently living in Germany were to be counted. In other words, the analysis found further evidence of German identification with Europe in a rather surprising area of education, especially the need to articulate the relationship between different religions in contemporary Germany.

State actors equated the EU with the values of democracy, multiculturalism, equality, tolerance, modernisation, respect for human rights and diversity when attempting to introduce reforms aimed at conforming to European standards. These values were recognised by Greek public opinion as forming the foundation of a common European background and appear to have triggered overall a positive disposition towards a European identity. In effect, European identity was perceived as being still in an embryonic form, facing significant challenges. Nevertheless, it was perceived as potentially desirable in order to strengthen Europe’s global participation, and certainly one that was founded on Greece’s historical and cultural heritage.

Attempts to construct a national and European identity in Greece oscillated between two distinct cultures. On the one hand, there was a culture constructed around the defence of traditions and particular national features related to the country’s past. On the other, there was support for a culture paving the way towards modernization, secularization and reform. State actors tended to alternate between these two cultures in their discourse, switching easily between them depending on their audience and instrumentalising them in order to promote or accomplish specific policy goals. It was common in fact that they presented themselves as defenders of both, i.e. protectors of Greece’s uniqueness and particular traditions and simultaneously promoters of Greece’s modernization. In effect, at the same time they might argue in favour of reforms denouncing the constraining nature of the vestiges of the past that need to be shed in order to ensure that Greece was not marginalised, while expressing their resistance to reforms that challenge the specificities of Greek identity and society. Thus, the nature of their audience and the specific circumstances of each policy area largely defined the discourse that state actors undertook.

Greek state actors expressed both attachment and resistance to modernisation projects, and even to Europe ‘as modernity.’ They constantly and consistently expressed ambivalence between two competing modernity frameworks: a ‘Western’ framework that conformed to western rational understandings of modernity and essentially imbued all efforts and processes of Europeanisation in Greece, and an ‘Eastern’ one that proposed a sui generis, nationally authentic path towards modernity.

It was clear that the normative approach seen throughout the several decades-long Europe and modernity debates in Hungary did not disappear with the regime change and with the country joining the European Union in 2004. The top-down approach where Hungarian elites deducted their political tasks from a pre-existing set of norms which they saw as characteristics of Europe and the EU were present in the policy documents examined for this case study, and the expectation remained that the EU and state actors should act together in close collaboration to help the country and the masses to adhere both to the European value system and the economico-administrative structures of the European democracies.

In general, it can be stated that the homogenized uses of the terms ‘Europe’ and ‘modernity’ faded away throughout the 1990s and then even more so in the 2000s. Instead of broader, consensual understandings multiple meanings and interpretations became attached to these concepts, and many of these views suggested radically different policy alternatives for Hungary to follow in order to be able to join ‘modern Europe’. That is, while there was a consensus among all politicians participating in the parliamentary debates that Hungarian education was ‘in dire need of modernization’, and that this ‘modernization’ should happen in line with both national and European values and norms (where Hungarian norms were seen as European in their tradition), when it came to concrete policies the understandings of what exactly ‘modernization’ meant in practice and how should it be reached were highly divers. The most important dividing line among political (state) actors was along politico-ideological affiliations and party lines, divisions that became ever stronger over the years and governments that passed.

In the discourse of Hungarian state actors the concepts of ‘Europe’ and ‘modernity’ retained their normative use in the sense that they continued to represent ideal-type and standardized images of what Europe and modernity would mean for Hungary; the participants of the debates framed their policy alternatives within this norm. However, while they reproduced the established discursive paradigm, they developed interpretative ‘techniques’ that made it possible for them to differentiate themselves from the other actors in the debate; this is what led to the appearance of multiple meanings attached to ‘modernity’ and ‘Europe’.

Europe was an important anchor for the democratization process of Turkey in the last decade. Particularly in the aftermath of the Helsinki Summit of 1999, EU harmonization efforts to align Turkey’s policies with that of Europe occupied the political agenda and led to various constitutional amendment packages. However, while 1999-2005 marked the rapid reformation of the Turkish legal framework, 2005 marked the loss of momentum for the said reformation process along the lines of the Copenhagen criteria. The EU anchor, which was considered to be at its strongest in the 1999-2005 period, yielded to the ‘vicious cycle’, where the EU anchor weakened and the reformation process came a to a halt. This shift in ‘cycle’ also coincided with the rise of Euroscepticism. The Euroscepticism influenced the perceptions of the state actors towards Europe and particularly the EU. In effect, the state actors’ discourses did not necessarily depend on the EU anymore, but rather on the rising significance of Turkey as a global and a regional actor. While Europe did not remain the sole anchor for reform, it still constituted an important element in the transformation of Turkish politics.

Europe and the EU were also framed and discussed with references to globalization. As such, globalization certainly influenced the formation of different meanings for ‘identity’; subsequently Turkish modernization began to reflect ‘alternative modernities’ with different political discourses of, and different future prospects for, Turkish social life.

The UK
The fieldwork found both the EU and British state actors deliberately gave a low profile to ‘Europe’ as the European Union recognising the strength of Euroscepticism in the UK. The EU actor’s attempts to identity construction in the UK is characterised by an implicit nature. The attempts at discursive construction of British identity by the state actors were not homogeneous and carried out in a variety of tension/conflict among them. The UK state actors’ discourse in the policy area of education and external promotion was characterised by the following:

• The UK as a vibrant economic power and superior provider of higher education;
• Citizenship as a means of identity management;
• The UK as representing fundamental values such as freedom and justice in its efforts to promote mutual understanding in the world;
• The UK as occupying a strategically advantageous position in the globalising world due to its mother tongue, English.

The examination of the state and EU actors’ discourse in the UK also highlighted the enduring influence of the English/British exceptionalism framework and the Whig history perspective which tended to present Britain as something different from other European countries.

The state and EU actors’ discourse: an overview
The investigation into the state and EU actors’ discourse in the nine countries revealed that there was a great degree of diversity in the promotion of European identities by official bodies. In some cases, Europe was presented as something to aspire for and emulate. In a few cases, the representation of Europe shifted over the last decade while in some cases the view of Europe kept oscillating between two poles of preserving traditions and pursuing modernisation. In some cases, Europe was not a meaningful reference point and in some, Europe was something that anchored the nation in the postwar world. There was no unified, hegemonic European identity construction programme pursued by various state and EU actors. On the whole, the state actors were more concerned with the promotion of national identity, though there was usually a great degree of tension and conflict over what this nationalisation project was about.

The findings from this phase of investigation were presented in the case study reports (phase I) and were used to frame the briefings of findings at the concluding stage of the project. In particular, IME investigation at this phase continued to address the following objectives:

• To map the diversity of European identities across the cases studied in relation to four factors: type of state, type of religion, the strength of civil society and geo-historical and geo-political background;
• To analyse in each case how European identities have evolved within the specific historical context in relation to other forms of identification, especially national identity;
• To investigate the role of the EU integration processes in modifying the contemporary identities, especially in its relationship to national and religio-ethnic identities;
• To examine the extent to which religio-ethnic minorities influence identity construction programmes of the majority, and their unique contribution to the articulation of European identities;

The second phase of the fieldwork: Civil society actors and ‘ordinary’ people

The second phase of empirical research in the IME Project concentrated on civil society actors’ and ordinary citizens’ ways of understanding European and national identities and modernity. National research teams conducted a series of in-depth interviews with civil society actors and ‘ordinary’ people in each country concerning selected issues in education that were deemed to be very contentious in each country.

By asking the respondents to elaborate their position vis-à-vis these controversial issues, a wealth of data was generated, and the IME research teams analysed the data to tease out the respondents’ perception and understanding of Europe and modernity. Findings from each case were presented in the form of research reports in which each team also engaged with a comparison between the elite discourse and discourse of civil society actors and ordinary citizens. Below are the highlights of each case study. The variety of findings, as shown below, demonstrates the diversity of European identities expressed by the variety of actors across Europe.

The general impression from the interviews with the civil society representatives and private individuals was that modernity was most often understood as a synonym for ‘European.’ On the one hand, this carried a positive connotation. Modernisation and Europeanization were two intertwined processes with the common aim: to make Bulgaria a better place to live in (indicators named by the respondents include standard of living, rule of law, freedom to travel, purchasing power, life quality, infrastructure, clean environment).

On the other hand, the same process was seen as institutionalised and imposed from outside. A borrowed, copied and mechanically assembled 'European modernity' rarely fitted the Bulgarian realities and thus seldom produced the desired result. A case in point was the Bologna Process. Considered as an inseparable and unavoidable part of the EU accession process, it was described as a foreign frame and by some even as a threat.

The relation between the Bulgarian and European identity was complex. The first reaction of respondents was that 'Bulgaria is and has always been a part of Europe.' On the second thought, most respondents began to underline the differences and the Europeanness of today’s Bulgaria was evaluated very critically and very often questioned, if not denied. Although Bulgaria was already an EU member-state, Bulgarians still perceived their country as somewhat 'exterritorial' compared to the rest of the EU. While they were convinced that Bulgaria had a history-stamped residence permit for the common European home, Bulgarians in numerous respects felt that they lived next door to 'Europe' rather than in it.

It appears that civil society organisations in Croatia understood modernization of education as an unsuccessful and failed development. The NGO actors recognised an understanding of modernity as the capacity of critical assessment and noted that there was nearly no critical thinking or any reflexivity in Croatia. They also noted that people were simply passive observers’ rather than active participants in the socially related issues.

The above applied to the issue of modernity and identity because the actors did not see the Croatian citizenry as being self-reflexive over the identity related issues nor did they seem to be able to remove themselves fully from the nationalist discourse from the 1990. At the same time, they recognized the discourse placing an overall emphasis on religion. This suggested a conclusion that they did not perceive Croatia as modern in its true conceptual meaning as recognized by theories of modernity. At the same time, by their yearning for such critical and self-reflexive attitudes, they behaved in the way which is expected by a variety of modernisation theories, thus the actors appeared as modern in this respect

The actors expressed views according to which modernity meant modernization and in this respect Croatia was seen as not modern enough. The systems of higher education as well as of the primary education were seen as not modern, too traditional and backwards. In the Croatian case, to be modern was to be European because Europe served as a reference point for modernity and modernization.

The case study found a shift from a ‘keeping up’ attitude in the 1990s to a superior attitude towards the European example among civil society actors and ordinary people. Finns regarded themselves to have solved the problem of education in a more functional manner, much due to the fine PISA results. There was no longer a sense of inferiority, quite the opposite, and this seemed to be the major change in the Finnish self-experience. On the other hand the higher education created frustration and fear of being inferior.

Europe was seen as either having failed in its pursuit to manage the diversity and multiculturalism, or it was viewed as the natural other in a positive sense; Finland needed to take responsibility like the other European nations. It was a contradiction between shutting borders and learning how to co-exist.

The Finnish history seemed to have become less meaningful after the entrance to the EU: much of the education in schools was about Europe instead of the e.g. long Swedish era. Becoming more European apparently meant being less Northern and less focus on the historical past as a periphery state.

Europe had more importance in civil society actors’ and citizens’ discourses than the state actors’ discourse. This can partly be related to the fact that these actors were directly asked about Europe during interviews. Indeed questions of the interview guides referred to the European dimension at both levels. For each of the issue tackled (headscarf issue, learning of the national anthem, etc.), interviewees were asked if common issues occurred in other European countries and if common European solutions should be found. Moreover, as far as citizens were concerned, a question on their sense of European identity was asked. Yet, some civil society actors and a few citizens mentioned Europe spontaneously, in particular when the issue of the national anthem was tackled: they argued that citizenship and identity bonds nowadays should not be restricted to the nation. Overall, such a spontaneous evocation of Europe remained rare. This confirmed the findings of previous research in European studies: discourses on Europe collected through specific and direct questions tended to overemphasize the importance of Europe and European issues as a meaningful reality for respondents.

However, the analysis of the interviewees’ utterances (both for civil society organizations and private individuals) showed that Europe had some actual meaning for interviewees. More precisely, the discourses showed at both levels a significant gap between a ‘dreamt Europe’ and the actual functioning of the EU. For numerous civil society actors and citizens, the general idea of Europe was valued for its cosmopolitan dimension. However, this did not give Europe a very clearly specific status compared to the general opening of borders due to globalization. The discourse on Europe hence often led to a general evocation of the current world as more and more opened. If more specified in the form of the EU, Europe was rather perceived as failing. The actors who valued the nation as a common identity found Europe largely inconsistent on this ground. Moreover, as they were attached to some specific features of the French model (in particular to laïcité), they also refused a greater rapprochement of European countries in some fields. The others who insisted on universalized rights and social solidarity pointed out the absence of sufficient EU developments on these aspects. In both cases, the EU was rejected as a place for the dissemination of a neo-liberal state of mind or at least denounced as too much oriented towards economic, financial and technical issues. As Europe was largely interpreted in reference to the national model (i.e. as a place for common identity or common rights), it was seen as a failing political community.

The German case study chose to focus on collecting voices from migrant organisations at this stage. It found that the representatives of migrant organisations and religious unions opposed the representation of Europe as a secular entity and of Muslims as supposedly non-enlightened ‘others’. Some interviewees emphasised in addition to this that ‘modern society is in fact strongest when it comprises a multiplicity of cultures and religions and is not monolithic’. They thereby placed themselves in opposition to the idea that supposedly traditional, religious migrants must be integrated through education in the modern, enlightened daily reality of Europe.

Furthermore, many interviewees disagreed with the exclusion of Islam from European culture and supported the recognition of Islam and the implementation of the constitutionally-protected equality of religions. In this context an idea of modernity characterised as a plurality whose origination from interplay of different religions was emphasised. In this regard the interviewees from religious communities and migrant organisations took a clear stance in the debates on the European cultural heritage. They criticised the practical non-implementation of the constitutionally-protected equality of religions, which was then discussed in the context of the question of religious symbols in schools.

The polarisation of positions in the headscarf debate even among migrant organisations and religious communities clearly indicated that many diverging positions on these themes took the semantic of being a modern as a reference point. This meant that the same ideas continually recurred in the discussion, but that differing conclusions were reached. Despite the wide-ranging polarisation of opinion in the headscarf debate, all of the interviewees from migrant organisations and religious unions emphasised the idea of equality or religious freedom, the right to social participation and the ban on religious indoctrination in public schools. They also mentioned the paradox of the constitutionally-protected equality of religions in Europe on the one hand and the practical and institutional discrimination of the Muslim religion in educational institutions. Here many still saw a central Leitkultur understanding in the German identity construction that reduced certain people to pre-modern objects.

Non-state actors had a slightly more critical perception of Europe than state actors. Though they referred to the shared cultural foundations of Greek and European identities, they also emphasised the challenges and threats ‘Europe’ posed. Conservative actors considered these issues as a challenge to Greek national identity and tradition, while for left-wing civil society actors, ‘Europe’ challenged the institutions that protect social justice and equality as its directives were driven by capitalist, neoliberal and pro-globalization values. In many cases, the study of civil society actors’ discourses suggested that concepts of ‘modernity’ and ‘tradition’ were to a large extent instrumentalised in the discourse of both left and right wing parties and other social actors serving sometimes to promote reform and at other times to block change and maintain existing power structures. In this respect, Europe was seen either as ‘benevolent’ (promoting respect for diversity and quality of rights) or ‘oppressive’ and promoting foreign interests (an agent of globalisation imposing closer links between higher education and private actors).

Traditionally, European identity was considered as something ‘to be achieved’ and always coming from abroad. In short, feeling European was part of the discourse of ‘modernity sought.’ This feeling was predictably accentuated by the current and ongoing economic crisis. Several ordinary citizen interviewed in the context of the Greek case study defined Europe as North European countries, and specifically Germany. Greece, Spain or Italy, as well as the newer member states of central and eastern Europe were perceived as marginally European, undergoing efforts to ‘become’ European. While reflecting over their identity, the respondents expressed a strong pride for the country’s history and culture while expressing disappointment with Greece’s continuing lack of organization and meritocracy, endemic corruption, clientelism and political patronage.

As to the issues of Europe and modernity, on the state level as well as on the non-state, expert level, / Europe serves as an important reference point – either positive or negative – and the concept of modernity also occupied a rather significant role in the articulation of problems and questions. In contrast, at the level of private individuals, it appeared that these were, to a large extent, missing: the term ‘Europe’ was hardly ever mentioned (only when directly asked), while the concept ‘modernity’ did not figure at all, not even when the interviewees were asked direct questions about ‘modern’ solutions in education. This, of course, does not mean that they did not reproduce in their speech discursive elements that can be closely linked to modernity-discourses of political and civil sector actors. But it does mean that the link found between the discourse topics of private individuals and the topics in other actors’ speech was an outcome of discourse analysis. It was therefore not a spontaneous, reflexive and self-reflexive act of the interviewees on the topics of Europe, the European Union, and modernity. It is also important to emphasize that the way the questions were phrased left plenty of room for individual interpretations of the issues discussed, and also allowed for either very narrow or very broad answers on the ‘Europe and education’ topic. In this context it is very telling that the majority of the subjects took a very broad and generalizing attitude to most issues, which can only partly be explained by a lack of detailed knowledge of educational practices of other European countries. Another reason for these generalizing explanations was the internalization of the normative understandings of ‘Europe’ and ‘modernity’ among the Hungarian interviewees, showing how deeply rooted the opinions about an ‘ideal-type’ and ‘modern’ (western) Europe were in the general public in Hungary.

It was clear in the interviews with civil society activists and private individuals that the majority of the respondents made a distinction between Europe and the EU. The assumed monolithic nature of Europe was often disputed by the respondents, particularly in terms of proposing a common solution with Europe or a possible European model to resolving problematic issues in the field of education. EUization was often unwelcome for the respondents as they questioned the sustainability and the motivations behind the EU. Nonetheless, the EU, whether criticized or commended, provided a rather tangible and uniform framework in terms of the modernization of education, while “Europe” proved to be a rather problematic term in identifying common practices. This differentiation between Europe and the EU could be considered a by-product of the EUization of the Turkish education system on the structural level. Most importantly, this was in part a result of the top-down approach that was carried out by the Turkish state in implementing the EU reforms in general.

The differentiation between Europe and the EU was also important in identifying the type of Euroscepticism that was observed in the Turkish context. Euroscepticism in general terms refers to the disbelief in the European integration. In the Turkish context, soft-Euroscepticism, as a concern about some policy areas, seemed to be rather more prominent, owing to the asymmetrical interdependence between the EU and Turkey and the current economic turmoil in Europe. Therefore, what was observed was a general contestation of certain policy areas and a concern over the conflicting interests of Turkey and the EU which stemmed from a) lack of information on the EU, b) lack of consensus on the definition of Europe (territorial or value-based), c) an inability to differentiate between Europe and the EU. The top-down reformations processed in Turkey still persisted vis-a-vis the EU reformation procedures, hence leading to a general backlash against and a rejection of ‘Europe’. Nonetheless, owing to the increased visibility and influence of non-state actors, the bottom-up approach became imperative in understanding the idea of Europeanization and modernity in the Turkish context.

The UK
Evocation of ‘Europe’ in their discourse was equality weak in civil actors’ and private individuals’ discourses. This did not mean that the respondents did not feel European: quite a few have agreed that they felt European in addition to other identities. Some of the half-British and half-other nationalities respondents stated that a sense of being European was an integral part of being themselves. While there was hardly an outpouring of ‘Europeanness’ during the interviews, about the half of the private individuals interviewed admitted that they felt European and explained what it meant to them. They were also aware of the unfolding euro crisis. However their feeling of being European did not appear to have a significant influence on their views of the issues discussed. No respondent used ‘Europe’ as a way of explaining the issues be it university tuition fee, faith schools or citizenship education. Respondents representing religious organisations surprisingly did not evoke ‘Europe’ in the interviews, but humanist respondents appeared to be more aware of the significance of the European framework. This might be to do with an understanding that humanist thinking was a continued endeavour of deliberation of the Enlightenment values, and therefore it was both European and Christian. Europe was not a very meaningful reference point even in a comparative context. When discussing higher education, for instance, what was referred to was the United State of America as a model to which politicians and policy-makers working on higher education were oriented, and a more vaguely defined ‘global market’ from which UK higher education institutions were attracting students successfully. The ‘competitors’ were therefore not European universities but universities across the globe.

The analysis of the fieldwork data led to a conclusion that ‘Europe’ was not a meaningful reference point for British actors in going about their lives. They might feel European and attach certain values to being European but that was not seen as significant in articulating their views about issues in education. When a sense of agency at the European level was expressed, it came from those civil society actors who had ‘European’ organisational or institutional connection: a trade union representative who also sat on a European federal committee, a humanist who also acted as a European representative of humanist organisations in various countries and the student union representative. This seems to confirm that agency is conditioned by structure. These respondents had a sense of agency because of the structural conditions they found themselves in. Whether the framework of ‘Europe’ became meaningful or not was evidently quite another matter.

Civil society actors and private individuals: an overview

The second phase of the fieldwork with civil society actors and ordinary citizens also highlighted the diversity of European identities. However, in all cases there was a degree of discrepancy between what was found in this stage and the state actors’ discourse of European identities. In short, the civil society actors and ordinary people were not passively internalising the state and EU actors’ discourse but they were making sense of the world around them in their own way. This phase of fieldwork found that civil society actors’ and ordinary citizens’ discourse of European identities was more critical than the state actors’ while in some cases Europe was not a very meaningful reference point for those actors. In some cases Europe and modernity were found to be deeply intertwined; in some the normative understanding of Europe was found to be internalised by the actors; in some case Europe and the EU were clearly distinguished while in some cases feeling of being European did not appear to be linked to recognition of shared European identities. It was also found that the national framework was almost always privileged over and against the European framework which confirmed findings from the successive Eurobarometer surveys.

The fieldwork stage: Assessment
As outlined above, the fieldwork carried out for IME yielded a large amount of rich data as expected in any qualitative study. Because of the nature of qualitative research, the fieldwork stage did not return homogenised data but helped the IME consortium to address the following project objectives even further in the form of case study reports:

• To map the diversity of European identities across the cases studied in relation to four factors: type of state, type of religion, the strength of civil society and geo-historical and geo-political background;
• To analyse in each case how European identities have evolved within the specific historical context in relation to other forms of identification, especially national identity;
• To investigate the role of the EU integration processes in modifying the contemporary identities, especially in its relationship to national and religio-ethnic identities;
• To examine the extent to which religio-ethnic minorities influence identity construction programmes of the majority, and their unique contribution to the articulation of European identities;
• To seek commonalities in European identities across the cases by way of systematic comparisons;

Stage 4: Thematic comparisons: moments of European identities

IME’s research efforts culminated with the thematic comparisons which made the most of the strengths of qualitative research in capturing commonalities of European identities. These commonalities did not exists as fixed and permanent categories, readily available for identification by the people of Europe, but they emerged as spontaneous and uncoordinated expressions of self-definition of ‘we, the Europeans’ which can only be captured at the cross-national comparative level. There were five thematic comparisons carried out for IME, but in particular, the following four comparisons yielded findings of interest to a wider audience:

• The discourses surrounding the Bologna Process (Croatia, Greece, Hungary and Turkey)
• The debates on the place of religion in education (Bulgaria, Croatia, France and the UK)
• The ‘catching up with Europe’ discourse (Bulgaria, Greece and Hungary)
• Opposition to Europe (Finland, France and Greece)
In what follows, the outline of the findings from each comparison is first described and assessment of the comparative analysis will be offered second.

The Bologna Process
The comparative analysis of reactions to the Bologna Process first identified the Process as a form of Europeanisation of national education and it examined the ways in which identity was formed and maintained in the cases of Greece, Croatia, and Turkey as these took shape in relation to the Bologna Process. The work was based on the following premises:

• Higher education is a site where the complex relationship between the ‘universal’ (knowledge) and the ‘national’ can be captured most effectively;
• Today’s higher education finds itself in the context of universalisation of knowledge with an increased emphasis on enhancing young people’s mobility, which is conducive to homogenisation of higher education;
• Participation in the Bologna Process reflects the tensions that characterise in general national identities and the contemporary challenges posed by their relationship with Europe and modernisation.
Building on these premises, a comparative analysis of responses and reactions to the Bologna Process in the three countries was carried out paying particular attention to heterogeneity and diversity of discourses found in each national framework.

One of the conclusions was about the re-positioning of universities in society in response to the overall process of Europeanisation. On the one hand, the Bologna Process established universities as the central institution in the ‘Europe of knowledge’ and on the other, because of the creation of the European Higher Education Area, universities were now an object of European level-policy making. Higher education policies pursued by the EU and state actors reflected an understanding that society had shifted to the so-called post-industrial society and were designed to help individuals in knowledge-based economy focusing on their adaptability and employability.

Secondly, in agreement with the premises of the theory of multiple modernities, there were different ways in which tradition vs. modernity emerged in relation to ‘Europe’, Americanisation, the nation and neo-liberalism in the three cases. The variety of manifestations of the ‘tradition vs. modernity’ theme in the three cases reflected the different ways in which the state’s, civil society actors’ and lay people’s discourse interacted and developed.

One of the commonalities was that in the three cases, protest over the Bologna Process tended to be framed in an anti-neo-liberal discourse. While the intensity with which the protest over the Bologna Process was carried out diverged amongst the three cases, the Process was often seen as a manifestation of the rise of neo-liberalism which was in turn perceived to be an attack on ‘the public’ and to some extent, ‘the traditional’. The Bologna Process was frequently seen as a top-down imposition of the new, ‘modern’ model, in which an understanding of modernisation as something coming from abroad was betrayed.

The place of religion in education
It goes without saying the place of religion in education, especially public education, is an issue in many parts of the world. From the nine cases studied in IME, four – Bulgaria, Croatia, France and the UK - were singled out to carry out a comparison because they represented different ways in which the place of religion in education was questioned and debated.

In this analysis, discourses on the place of religion in education put forward by civil society actors and lay people was examined with the premises that the place of religion in society was becoming an urgent issue in the context of globalisation. The issue provided rich data to disentangle the tripartite relationship among the nation, Europe and modernity since religion and secularisation were deeply embedded in the discourses about them. Therefore the first point was that while the place of religion in education was recognised as an important issue by the general public, the way in which this ‘importance’ was understood and recognised differed considerably reflecting different ways each nation evolved and experienced modernity.

The analysis found that different dimensions of the place of religion in education were contested in four countries: for instance, while the issues associated with faith schools were seen as the problem to be solved in Bulgaria and the UK, they did not attract much attention in Croatia and France; the wearing of religious symbols in state schools was a point of fierce contestation in France while it was not a major issue in Croatia and the UK with Bulgaria occupying the in-between position. The ways in which the provision of religious education was debated also differed: in the UK there was support for religious education as an academic subject which was seen to contribute to promote integration; in Bulgaria and France the debated was framed with the principle that education in state schools should be secular; in Croatia, the issue was understood in relation to the perceived dominance of the Catholic Church which made the tone of the debates in Croatia more confrontational than other cases.

These differences could be explained by referring to a combination of several factors including those peculiar to this investigation such as different social positioning of the respondents in four cases and socio-historical and geo-political ones such as the ways in which and the degree to which the separation of church and state was institutionalised, the ways in which the provision of education evolved and what kind of ruptures each national society experienced. The conception of the nationhood was found to play a big role in shaping the ways in which the place of religion in education was discussed: the clearer the sense of nationhood was articulated, the fiercer the contestation appeared to be. A link between ‘Europe’ and modernity in the discourses was examined: in Bulgaria and Croatia, ‘Europe’ and modernity were linked in the discussion of the relationship between religion and education while in France and the UK, the link was not made. This echoed the finding from the Bologna Process report as seen earlier.

The analysis pointed out two similarities found in Bulgaria, France and the UK: a) that the growing emphasis on national cohesion went hand in hand with a claim for an individualistic conception of self-determination and a strict separatist view of secularity; b) the defensive nature of Muslim actors’ discourse which tended to be presented as favourable towards integration. In all cases, actors were found to be modern in that they were self-reflexive and accepted the centrality of human autonomy.

Catching up with Europe
One of the ‘emergents’ from IME research was the ‘catching up with Europe’ discourse and it was examined in their varied manifestations in Bulgaria, Greece and Hungary, all of them were somehow outliers in the current European project regardless of their timing of accession to the European Union. In these three countries modernisation and Europeanisation were inextricably entangled and at the same time seen as a readymade process that these countries could not shape or influence and that people of these countries felt they ‘must’ follow it and adopt its norms if they want to become truly ‘European’.

Upon a close examination of discourses on ‘catching up with Europe’ at the state, civil society and citizens’ levels, despite differences in the geo-historical background and the history of being a member of the EU, remarkable commonalities in terms of ideals of striving to catch up with Europe where Europe means being modern, advanced, wealthy, political stable and efficient were found.

In this analysis, a shared meaning attached to ‘Europe’ emerged: Europe was about being modern, a clear delineation of ‘Europe’ which was not identified in other comparisons. Obviously, discourses on Europe found in these three countries were in no way homogeneous. While the ways in which the state and civil society actors articulated their concerns over ‘catching up with Europe’ corresponded to each other rather well, lay people were not a passive recipient of the ideas produced ‘somewhere up there’; they were actively engaged in the debate in their own search for the direction. Lay people discussed and negotiated the ways through which their country and themselves would move forward and, thus, search for an alternative path to modernity beyond the bipolar divide ‘modernity vs. tradition’. In this sense, they articulated a self-critical discourse and they expressed the need to preserve their agency and defend themselves as modern subjects, whose conscious thinking and actions could make a difference in the way they lived their life and the ways in which they managed change and their identity.

The ‘catching up with Europe’ analysis succeeded in capturing the dynamic processes of identity construction, redefinition and maintenance which is carried out at different levels of society.

Objections to Europe
Another theme that emerged during IME research from 2009 to 2012 was ‘objections to Europe’. This theme was examined by comparing Finland, France and Greece. Finland and Greece were in the geographical periphery of Europe that had a complicated and multi-faceted relationship with Europe, while the French case was explored as one of the countries that drove, defined and shaped European integration since its origins.

In this analysis, ‘objections to Europe’ was not treated as an expression of Euroscepticism but as a series of ambivalent responses of civil society actors and individuals to specific ‘modernisation’ or reform programmes in the field of education that were perceived as an externally imposed modernity. The analysis was therefore focused on the following questions:

• In these cases, is ‘Europe’ perceived as ‘corrosive’ to national identity and values?
• Is the EU in particular perceived as a homogenising entity that is incompatible with national preferences and traditions?
• Is it understood as encapsulating values and policies that are not politically neutral and distort national democratic political systems?

‘Objections to Europe’ was not synonymous with Euroscepticism, an elusive and problematic concept. Drawing from preceding studies which found that European citizens were not explicitly hostile to Europe but rather indifferent or ambivalent to it, the analysis pointed out that the term ‘objections’ which captured even ambivalent attitudes would be analytically more productive.

Then three case studies – Finland, Greece and France – were analysed comparatively. In the discussion of the Finnish case, the emergence of the ‘Nordic’ discourse in response to Finland’s changing relationship to the EU was identified as an expression of the shift of understanding of modernity in the Finnish public discourse. The impact of Finland’s recent ‘success’ in the PISA and debates on the recent reform in higher education were then placed in this context to argue that objections to Europe indicated an emergence of new scepticism towards Europe. The Greek case study first identified ‘two confusions’ in the Greek public discourse: the conflation of modernity and Europe, and that of Europe and globalisation. It then argued that the fieldwork found that there was a discourse that sought to combine what was perceived as Geek peculiarities with European achievements without being confined to a view of modernisation as a linear and homogenising path to progress. In the French case, the report argued that the EU had not polarised public opinion although the debate on the nationhood intensified of late. It argued that the state actors’ evocation of Europe was limited and civil society actors’ and individuals’ responses were objections rather than Euroscepticism. It found that the nation remained the most significant reference point in French public discourse in which neither Europe nor modernity had much relevance.

The analysis concluded that the relationship between Europe and modernity in the three cases analysed could not be reduced to a simple ‘modernity vs tradition’ dichotomy. In fact, the report argued that: ‘the transformations that each country is supposed to go through in order to complete the process of European integration are not always identified as specifically European. Hence we recorded objections to Europe rather than clear-cut oppositions to it, or Euroscepticism’.

Overview of the comparisons

The four comparative analyses outlined above are not global in their orientation but are rich with insights into European identities and their relationship to the nation and modernity. Here the major contributions to the three main objectives of the project are summarised.

Mapping the diversity and commonalities of European identities

IME research in general and the comparative analyses in particular demonstrated that European identities were indeed diverse. IME research highlighted that diversity observed was not confined to the national level as shown in an expression such as ‘Britain is an odd man in Europe’, but could also be observed at different levels of a national society. For example, the Bulgarian research team pointed out that while the Bulgarian state actors tended to emphasise the Bulgarians were not European enough, ordinary citizens tended to think that they were differently European. Indeed, IME consortium would strongly argue against the reification of the nation-state framework by reducing the diverse expressions of European identities into national society boxes. As IME investigation repeatedly pointed out, there was no homogeneity in national discourses on or frameworks of understanding of European identities.

Even within the state actors’ discourse, IME research teams demonstrated that there were multiple, conflicting views of European identities were promoted and defended. Civil society actors and individuals also held a variety of understanding of European identities which were not solely conditioned by their national belonging. In addition, IME research showed that European identities were not static; they evolved and changed in response to what was happening in the world. For instance, in the Finnish case, a clear shift in the meaning attributed to Europe took place after the collapse of the Soviet Union; in the Turkish case, as the accession negotiation dragged on, Eurosceptic attitudes became more pronounced at various levels of society; the Greek case also demonstrated that the unfolding of the euro crisis during IME research impacted on the expressions of European identities in the way that had not been predicted earlier. European identities were therefore diverse and dynamic. Their diversity was complex and resisted any attempt to simplify it.

Still IME research captured certain commonalities in European identities. ‘Europe as modernity’ was one of them. As extensively explored in Europe, Nations and Modernity (2011), linkage between the idea of ‘Europe’ to that of ‘modernity’ was observed in several cases at different points of history. In this regard, France and the UK stood out as exceptions in which the ‘Europe as modernity’ theme did not feature in any particular discourse on European identities. This was where geo-historical and geo-political factors contributed to the shaping and the delineation of commonalities amongst various Europeans.

When focusing on discourses that were around for the past ten years, the theme of ‘Europe as neo-liberalism’ was found in various cases especially in the articulation of opposition to certain reforms in education. As IME comparative analyses clarified, this was not to say that a new hegemonic view of Europe was emerging; rather, some commonalities were emerging in the positions various actors occupy in various national settings. In other words, some issues were now being shared by various actors in Europe in their interpretation and responses to them, and their European identities were, in this instance, conditioned by the shared meaning attach to the issue.

Assessing the theory of multiple modernities

IME research demonstrated that the framework of multiple modernities which emphasised the centrality of human autonomy and agency was helpful in the endeavour to critically analyse the linkages between European and national identities and the notion of ‘being modern’. The theory allowed researchers to observe what actors said about various issues without being constrained by a preconception about the stages of modernisation that each country may be assigned to. The theory was found to be helpful in all IME comparisons carried out in order to understand how human agency worked in identity construction and maintenance. In some cases the focus on human self-reflexivity led to some exciting insights. For instance, in the analysis of the ‘catching up with Europe’ theme, it was noted that lay people discussed and negotiated the ways through which their country and themselves would move forward and, thus, search for an alternative path to modernity beyond the bipolar divide ‘modernity vs. tradition’. In this sense, they articulated a self-critical discourse and they expressed the need to preserve their agency and defend themselves as modern subjects, whose conscious thinking and actions can make a difference in the way they lived their life and the ways in which they managed change and their identity.

The analysis therefore suggested that although the dominant discourse on European modernity might seem to go uncontested by state actors and civil society to a certain extent, citizens were engaged with articulating critical and more imaginative views by arguing for a ‘third way’ to Central Eastern and South-eastern European modernity in-between the Western and the Eastern tradition.

In this case, the theory of multiple modernities helped the IME consortium capture a new modernity in the making. The analysis put forward here was a clear illustration of the view of modernity as a ‘story of continual constitution and reconstitution of a multiplicity of cultural programmes’.

Future trajectories of European identities

IME research highlighted the profound diversity in European identities as noted earlier. While it detected some instances where commonalities in European identities were emerging across nine cases, in terms of the future trajectories of European identities, its conclusion was that there was no sign of converging of European identities. This was because European identities were not only conditioned by the national framework but also the ways in which people who occupied diverse positions in society made sense of the world. IME research demonstrated that people at different levels in society were actively taking part of identity construction, reformation and maintenance by using their self-reflexivity. European identities were a dimension of self-definition put forward by these actors, who were constantly engaged with redefining who they were. In short, IME research showed that diversity was and would continue to be the most prominent feature of European identities.

This is not exactly a very helpful insight for policy making. But as the Bologna Process analysis in particular suggested, IME consortium’s comparative research produced a variety of evidential data which would be of some use to policy makers in reference to concrete policy issues. This was achieved by being attentive to various voices raised in relation to a particular issue. What this suggests is that in terms of policy making European identities are best approached in a context- and topic- dependent manner. Rather than trying to formulate a blanket policy on European identities, trying to identify commonalities emerging in a particular policy area from different sections of society would yield more useful evidence for effective policy making.

Commonalities of European identities

While the fieldwork yielded ample data to describe the diversity of European identities expressed by peoples of the nine countries investigated in the IME project, the thematic comparisons identified a few commonalities regarding European identities. These commonalities were not necessarily recognised as such by the respondents but these were something that an analyst could detect through the process of comparison. They were fluid and elusive but they – commonalities of European identities - did exist. IME research captured at least three commonalities through the thematic comparisons.

Europe as a moral community
This emerged most prominently in the analysis of discourses on the place of religion in education in four countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, France and the UK. While the comparative analysis pointed to the different configuration of discursive structure on the issue in four countries, certain commonalities emerged: strong support for the individual’s freedom and autonomy and belief in equality. These were expressed through opposition to state funding of faith schools or wearing of the headscarf as a sign of disrespect for children’s autonomy; or it was expressed as ‘you wear what you want’. Or they appeared in the argument to support faith schools and religious education in schools so that all religions were treated equally. Another commonality was found in a high degree of convergence in Muslim respondents’ discourse. While the position of Muslim citizens in these four countries differed considerably, their discourse showed a high degree of convergence in supporting principles of equality, the individual’s autonomy and so on. Muslim respondents seemed to put forward these views as proof of their integration in host society and it was not unreasonable to deduce from all these that there was a shared understanding that ‘as Europeans, we would respect the individual’s autonomy and freedom and uphold the principle of equality’.

‘Being European is being modern (advanced, wealthy, politically stable and efficient)
The comparative analysis on the discourse of ‘catching up with Europe’ based on findings from Bulgaria, Greece and Hungary suggested that another commonality of European identities was found in this understanding: ‘being European is being modern (advanced, wealthy, politically stable and efficient)’. This understanding was embedded in a general self-awareness: ‘we are Europeans, but not European enough yet’. It was an expression of self-definition in aspiration. The analysis suggested that there was difference in different actor’s attitudes to this self-understanding. For instance, state actors seemed to share this anxiety to ‘catch up’ with the ‘rest’ of the European Union. In their views, what it meant to be European is presented as something already made and fixed, and as a result, European identities were presented as something static contrary to the earlier argument that European identities are dynamic and fluid. On the other hand, private citizens, while acknowledging the importance of catching up with Europe, seemed to view the process of catching up in a dynamic manner. It was not simply to become like Germans but to become advanced, wealthy, politically stable and efficient in a more imaginative manner by interrogating the dichotomy of tradition vs modernity from their own perspective.

‘My/our Europe as an antithesis of an imposing, neo-liberal Europe’
The third commonality emerged in a round-about manner. Especially in the analysis on the Bologna Process (drawing from data from Greece, Croatia, and Turkey) and on oppositions to Europe (based on data from Finland, France and Greece), an image of Europe/EU as neo-liberal imposition emerged. The series of higher education reforms triggered by the Bologna Process were usually understood to be a shift of the position of the university from a provider of public good to a training facility to meet the demand of market economy, and often, the respondents were highly critical of this move while recognising the pressure of globalisation. When opposition to ‘Europe’ is expressed, which was by no means homogeneous across Europe, an understanding of the EU/Europe as imposition that undermines national traditions/ways of doing things, democracy and so on was a common denominator in the respondents’ words. The point was, however, that this understanding was aired as something the respondents did not identify with; it was not ‘their’ Europe. While the IME interview schedule did not manage to prove what their Europe was as opposed to the imposing, neo-liberal Europe because it was designed to probe the respondents’ position regarding the selected contested issues, IME fieldwork at least managed to capture an outline of what they were not. What is interesting here is that when the respondents were expressing their opposition to this image of Europe from their own position in society, they were spontaneously forming a collective self-awareness – this was what we were not.

These commonalities were not fixed or permanent. These were fleeting and ephemeral expressions of self-definition, which were not co-ordinated and probably the respondents themselves were not very aware of, for these commonalities could only be identified through the process of comparing different discourses. These commonalities were not yet translated into a European-wide action or a basis for European solidarity. What IME research captured was a glimpse of European identities, a glimpse of things that had potential to become more meaningful to the people of Europe.

As shown above, the IME consortium continuously addressed the six project objectives throughout the life of the project yielding different insights at each stage. The data collected and analyses performed at different stages were written up as research reports in the first instance which are freely available from IME web page. The research reports collectively served as the basis for the briefings of findings produced for the non-academic audience. The consortium members were also engaged with a various endeavours to disseminate the findings through publication and conference presentations for academic purposes.

Potential Impact:
Since IME was a theoretically-focused project, its findings were more conducive to providing in-depth background information than to formulating concrete policy actions. Providing the basis of policy formulation is nonetheless an important contribution that academic research can make. The IME consortium’s efforts are most visible in this aspect.

There were two aspects to the IME consortium’s dissemination efforts: academic and non-academic. Because of the theoretical-focused nature of the project, the consortium members were more successful in academic dissemination in the form of scholarly publication and conference presentations. The most important achievement in this regard is the publication of a collective volume within the lifetime of the project.

The collective volume: Europe, Nations and Modernity (edited by Atsuko Ichijo), 2011, Palgrave Macmillan (details can be viewed at

Largely drawing from the literature review the IME research teams undertook at the beginning of the project, the book proposes a fresh angle to the study of European identities: ‘Europe as modernity’. Therefore, first and foremost, the volume makes contribution to the enhancement of the body of knowledge of European identities. All nine research teams contributed a chapter on its own case study and, as such, the volume provides a concise overview of the evolution of European identities in the nine countries across Europe. This serves as handy background reading for a wide range of users including policy makers involved with the issues of identity, both national and European, journalists covering European issues, civil society actors working to promote European-wide solidarity and movement and the general public who wish to enrich their knowledge of Europe and European identities. The book is also available as an e-book, which improves its reach to an even wider audience. The IME consortium was engaged with active promotion of the volume by its web pages, newsletters and conference presentations drawing from the volume such as the European Sociological Association’s Annual Conference in Geneva, September 2011. Published in September 2011, by 30 April 2012, 222 copies were sold worldwide.

In addition, at the end of the project (April 2012), three more volumes drawing from IME research were contracted by Palgrave Macmillan: Europeanisation and Tolerance in Turkey by Ayhan Kaya (Partner 8), The Greek Crisis and Modernity edited by Ruby Gropas, Hara Kouki and Anna
Triandafyllidou (Partner 2) and Multiple Modernities and Nationalism by Atsuko Ichijo (Partner 1). Europeanisation and Tolerance in Turkey is expected to be published by the end of 2012 while The Greek Crisis and Modernity and Multiple Modernities and Nationalism are scheduled to be published in 2013.

The consortium members took part in various academic conferences in order to disseminate findings from IME research. The major achievements included:

• Joint participation in 18th International Conference of Europeanists organised by the Council of European Studies and hosted by Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals in Barcelona on 20-22 June 2011. Partners 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 and 9 took part in the session organised by Partner 2 called ‘Identities and modernities in Europe: The case of transforming national education in countries in and around Europe, 2000-2010’.

• Joint participation in the 10th Conference of the European Sociological Association held at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, on 7-11 September 2011. Partners 1, 3, 5 and 9 took part in various sessions to disseminate IME findings in the form of country reports and methodological observations.

• Partners 1, 4, 8 and 9 contributed a chapter each to Cultural Diplomacy and Cultural Imperialism edited by Martina Topic and Sinisa Rodin (Partner 9) and published by Peter Lang in November 2012. The chapters contributed by the IME consortium members were based on their analysis of the state actors’ discourse on European identities.

The IME consortium also made strenuous efforts on non-academic dissemination. The progress of research was regularly reported in its newsletters which was published on the IME web page and sent out to subscribers. The major non-academic dissemination was planned to take place through dissemination events there were organised towards the end of the project based on briefings of findings each IME research team produced based on their empirical research.

The briefings of findings (English versions available from

The briefings of findings for national and European users were produced at the concluding stage of the project. In total, 15 briefings were produced, some of them in two languages (the official language of the country and English). They provided nuanced and context-sensitive analyses of the state of European identities which could be differently made use of. They were first and foremost good background reading for policy makers, researchers, civil society actors and journalists working at the national level with interest in European identities. Some of the briefings were policy area specific which could add to the body of specialised knowledge of that particular area. For those working at the European level, the briefing for European users provided a bird’s eye view of European identities while the collection of national briefings provided more details to enhance the user’s understanding of the issue.

The national briefings of findings were used in each team’s national dissemination events. All nine research teams hosted at least one public event to which civil society actors, policy makers, journalists and interested members of public were invited. The briefings were made available from the IME web page hosted by Kingston University which also produced a compilation of national briefings for the purpose of disseminating findings to civil society organisations and media organisations. Each team also sent out the briefings to policy makers, media organisations and civil society organisations. In some cases, these efforts were covered by media (Bulgaria and Turkey). All partners used their national briefings for teaching purposes.

The first version of the European briefing was launched at the European dissemination event on 29 February 2012. The event was not very successful in attracting a bit audience, but because of the involvement of a civil society organisation in the event, IME’s European briefing was instrumental in an indirect matter to a debate on secularisation between civil society organisations operating at the European levels. The revised version of the European briefing was then published in April 2012.

In addition to the national and European dissemination event, a final conference targeting both academic and non-academic users was held in Kingston-upon-Thames, UK on 28 March 2012. The aim of the conference was to showcase findings from IME research and organised to discuss thematic comparison with contribution from civil society actors. The conference was attended by about 40 participants which was an optimal size for having informed discussions. Feedback from the participants was largely positive. They felt the conference was informative and useful and also served as a good venue to renew old connections and make new contact to plan new projects.

Other major efforts in non-academic dissemination included:

• Partner 1 (Atsuko Ichijo) and Partner 4 (Sophie Duchesne) took part in the ‘Development of European Identities: Policy and Research Issues’ conference organised by DG Research on 9 February 2012 in Brussels, Duchesne as a discussant, Ichijo representing IME.
• Partner 8 produced press release on the major findings from the Turkish case study which was sent to up to 50 media organisations in Spring 2012.

Additional dissemination tool
In addition to the official IME project web site hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University, the project acquired an additional web space for further dissemination activities. The space is called ‘SEED’ and maintained by Insight Publisher. IME SEED can be accessed through the SEED Research Library page ( and this will be the major vehicle of post-funding dissemination for IME.

List of Websites:

Partner 1 (co-ordinator)
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University
Mailing address: Penrhyn Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE, UK

Co-ordinator and PI for the British team
Dr Atsuko Ichijo:
Tel: +44-20-8417-2351