Social Identities: Multidisciplinary Approaches

By Gary Taylor; Steve Spencer | Go to book overview

8.

European Identity

Timothy Baycroft

Today there is a European nationality, just as at the time of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides there was a Greek nationality. Victor Hugo (1843)

While Hugo was specifically referring to the 'nationality' of the educated, enlightened elite of artists and writers, his words evoke the multiple links between geography, culture and nationality which surround the enigma of European identity. Enigma because of the variables associated with each of the terms, and the numerous difficulties involved with any comprehensive analysis of identity across Europe. The term Europe itself can at the very least be used in two different ways: to describe the continent in general, although the eastern boundary has always been open to question, or alternatively to refer more specifically to the territory which has developed the institutional structure known as the European Union. In addition to a territory, be it simply geographic or political, 'European' may refer to any number of historic or cultural characteristics, which leave both of the key delineators of identity - self and other - fuzzy around the edges at best (see Pagden & Pocock, 2002:33-54, 55-71). Even after establishing which Europe is being discussed, problems of chronology and measurement of the extent of a European identity remain manifold. One difficulty of such measurement, certainly from the second half of the twentieth century onwards, is the role of political bias. Under certain circumstances having a European identity may become conflated with being in favour of a greater degree of economic and political institutional integration. Debate surrounding the existence of a European administrative and political structure always forms the background of any discussion of European identity, and often the asking of the question itself presupposes a certain degree of political bias towards 'Europe'.

Like other sorts of political identity linked to geographical territories, European identity in all of its various forms is subject to a duality of simultaneous complementarity and opposition with other forms of identity. It can at the same time be seen as one from among a series of overlapping territorial identities, identifying simultaneously with neighbourhood, town, region and country, each forming one layer. Alternatively, each territorial

-145-

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Social Identities: Multidisciplinary Approaches
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Social Class 14
  • 3 - Gender 35
  • 4 - Sexuality 64
  • 5 - Racial Stereotypes 91
  • 6 - Mixed Race 107
  • 7 - English Character and Identity 129
  • 8 - European Identity 145
  • 9 - Paganism 162
  • 10 - Mass Media 182
  • 11 - Ethnic Communications 199
  • 12 - Music 218
  • 13 - Cyber Identity 235
  • Index 253
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