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Download Citizens of Europe?: The Emergence of a Mass European by Michael Bruter (auth.) PDF

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By Michael Bruter (auth.)

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Extra info for Citizens of Europe?: The Emergence of a Mass European Identity

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Individuals are perceived to be truly – although latently – defined by such characteristics as their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, country, or town, which influence their status, beliefs, and attitudes (Hurwitz and Peffley, 1987, Feldman, 1988). The maturation of their individual identity leads them to ‘recognise’ or ‘acknowledge’ the relevance of these characteristics of their identity and its impact on who they are and how they think and live. 14 Citizens of Europe? On the contrary, theories of identification suggest that all patterns of ‘actual’ identity that could be used to describe an individual are indeed irrelevant as long as this individual does not think of them as parts of his own, constructed, identity.

As has been the case in virtually any creation of a new political system, the symbols of the European Union have been meant to push forward positive, seducing perceptions of Europe to which people will identify. Therefore, these symbols can be expected to favour higher levels of European identity if they have been chosen cleverly. Another body of literature, however, which is derived from the behaviouralist trend, has come up with more specific findings regarding the impact of political communication, which must be looked at when assessing the likely effect of the messages of institutions (both political institutions and the mass media) to influence citizens’ identities in general and the more specific emergence of a European identity.

This debate refers to a major conceptual opposition of the causal sequence of identity formation and, also, on the need for objective markers of identity, that is of the relation between the ‘top-down’ and ‘bottomup’ approaches distinguished earlier. Believers in the ‘identity recognition’ theory assume the pre-existing relevance of a multitude of patterns of ‘actual’ identity of individuals with human sub-groups. Individuals are perceived to be truly – although latently – defined by such characteristics as their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, country, or town, which influence their status, beliefs, and attitudes (Hurwitz and Peffley, 1987, Feldman, 1988).

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