Are We All Europeans Now? Local, National and Supranational Identities of Young Adults

by Sue Grundy and Lynn Jamieson[1]
University of Edinburgh

Sociological Research Online, Volume 10, Issue 3,

Received: 27 Oct 2004     Accepted: 23 Sep 2005    Published: 30 Sep 2005


The continued expansion and deepening of the European Union state raises important questions about whether there will be a corresponding development of pro-supranational feeling towards Europe. This paper is based on data drawn from a European Commission (EC) funded project on the 'Orientations of Young Men and Women to Citizenship and European Identity'. The project includes comparative surveys of 'representative samples' of young men and women aged 18-24 and samples of this age group on educational routes that potentially orient them to Europe beyond their national boundaries. This comparison of samples is made in paired sites with contrasting cultural and socio-political histories in terms of European affiliations and support for the European Union. The sites are: Vienna and Vorarlberg in Austria; Chemnitz and Bielefeld in East and West Germany; Madrid and Bilbao in Spain; Prague and Bratislava, the capitals of the Czech and Slovak Republics; Manchester, England and Edinburgh, Scotland in the UK. This paper examines patterns of local, national and supranational identity in the British samples in comparison to the other European sites. The typical respondent from Edinburgh and Manchester have very different orientations to their nation-state but they share a lack of European identity and disinterest in European issues that was matched only by residents of Bilbao. International comparision further demonstrates that a general correlation between levels of identification with nation-state and Europe masks a range of orientations to nation, state and Europe nurtured by a variety of geo-political contexts.

Keywords: Europe, European, Nation, Citizen, Identity, Young Adult


1.1Living in territory that is typically included in Europe and under the jurisdiction of the European Union[2], we are interested in perceptions of 'Europeanness'. A lack of interest in Europe as the basis of a form of supranational and/or citizenship identity is as interesting as positive claims for it. Many authors see little prospect of a European form of national or supranational identity because Europe lacks the elements that are supposed to give coherence to a nation state (Delanty, 2000, Smith, 1995). For example, Gerard Delanty has noted the absence of 'core components of a national culture: language, a shared history, religion, an educational system and a press or media' (2000, 114). Drawing on the work of Habermas (1998), he has suggested that there are better prospects for a European citizenship identity through 'constitutional patriotism': 'an identification with democratic or constitutional norms ... a legal identity, as opposed to a cultural identity' (2000, 115). However, how and when people come to claim, resist or downplay both the particular nationalities of the United Kingdom and their British citizenship are very complex processes shaped by everyday experiences in the socio-political context of their immediate locality (Bechhofer et al, 1999; Kiely et al, 2001; Kiely et al, 2000; McCrone 2002, McCrone and Kiely, 2000). Enthusiasm for, or lack of interest in, 'being European' must also have roots in everyday interactions and local contexts.

1.2 This paper arises out of our EC funded project ( focusing on young adults aged 18-24 and their orientations to citizenship and identity.[3] Research is conducted in paired sites with contrasting cultural and socio-political histories in terms of European affiliations and support for the European Union. The sites are Vienna and Vorarlberg in Austria, Chemnitz and Bielefeld in (the former East and West) Germany, Madrid and Bilbao in Spain, Prague and Bratislava, the capitals of the relatively new Czech and Slovak Republics, and Manchester, England and Edinburgh, Scotland in the UK. In this paper, we will focus on the attitudes of young adults to local, national and supranational territories and jurisdictions.

Theorising Identity

2.1 We find it useful to draw on the interactionists notion of the self in theorising identity. Following in the footsteps of many previous theorists, we note that most individuals experience themselves as having one self but many identities. Our sense of self is an ongoing product of our everyday social interaction, and is open to change. At the same time, a sense of continuity and biography, past and future, is part of our present self in memories, habits, stocks of knowledge, feeling, expectations and aspirations. In social interaction, people present different faces to others, sometimes consciously deliberately and manipulatively and sometimes without any conscious artifice. The term 'identities' can encompass the whole range of presentations of the self, whether they are felt to be primary, a core part of 'who I am', heartfelt and 'authentic' or more self-consciously playful and superficial, whether staged only in specific and infrequent social contexts or more enduring performances. This theoretical approach emphasises the social processes by which identities are produced or reproduced rather than 'identities' as an outcome, such as a permanent psychological state. Even outcomes that are experienced as enduring are products of social interaction.[4]

2.2 The social interactionist traditions on which we draw have sometimes been accused of neglecting the bigger pictures of power and inequalities, of over-emphasising agency and neglecting structure, or of inadequately theorising the interconnections between everyday power dynamics and the reproduction of structural inequalities. Like many other authors, we would ideally wish to theorise identity and identities to take account of both agency and structure (Jamieson, 2002). By comparing young people both within and across European nation-states, we are choosing to look across situations offering very different constraints and opportunities for mustering experiences of 'being European'. For example, variation in rates of youth unemployment, the education and welfare packages offered to young people (Bynner et al, 1997; Chisholm et al, 1995; Nagel & Wallace, 1997[5]), differences between Northern and Southern Europe in terms of patterns of leaving home, and young people's access to living independently of family households (Iacovou, 1998), differentially shape opportunities for mobility around Europe. Although our study does not include media monitoring, we are also aware that mass media provide nationally specific repertoires of stereotypes and stories that are drawn on or actively resisted in everyday identity claims and attribution. These include stereotypes of gender, age, ethnicity, and nationalities, as well as many offerings of more or less 'banal nationalism' (Billig, 1995).

2.3 The emphasis on everyday social interaction in the construction of identities means that socio-political processes and structures on grand scales, such as state policies, national economies or processes of globalisation, are important through their impact on local contexts. This is often very obvious in the case of national identity (McCrone, 2000; Macdonald 1993). For instance, for our Czech & Slovak colleagues, the local contexts in which people negotiate national identity have already been radically transformed by geo-political change. The state that some were born into, Czechoslovakia, no longer exists. Moreover, current enthusiasm for 'being European' in Slovakia and the Czech Republic cannot be understood separately from local discussion and rhetoric concerning the position of the Czech and Slovak Republics in the process of expansion of the European Union.

2.4 While we do not take it for granted that identity claims and attribution are always a process of 'othering' (Barth, 1969), we are very conscious that different local contexts offer different incentives to define self against others. For instance, some interviewees reported first feeling European when in the USA where they were also sometimes labelled as different from 'Americans'. Some respondents from Edinburgh became more adamantly Scottish rather than British when faced with American confusion between England and Britain. To take another example, a Manchester based interviewee changed the national label she used to describe herself during the course of the project. Firstly, she said that she was British and that she would never describe herself as English as she thought it had such negative connotations. A year later when she was on an overseas placement, she described herself as English and said that she would always call herself that. During her placement, she had made friends with other young adults from some of the various nations within the United Kingdom and also from Ireland and this meant that there were constant references to the differences between the nations that make up these islands.

2.5 Social contexts can also provide strong incentives to highlight or conceal identities that might otherwise be presented. The label 'Pretendanians' has been used for Americans, calling themselves Canadians to get a better reception when they are travelling (della Cava 2003). Many of our Scottish based respondents reported emphasising their Scottishness when travelling in order to receive a better reception. Some explained that it was best not to be confused with being English, and, in their view, a relatively stigmatised English identity and one respondent explicitly referred to using 'being Scottish' as a devise to create distance from British and the deeds of the British state.

2.6 In how they are imagined, the categories 'nation' and 'nation-state' often have 'fuzzy frontiers' (Cohen 1994). David McCrone and Richard Kiely comment on the difficulties people in the UK have in identifying who they are because of slippage between citizenship and nationality: "What is the country called anyway - Britain? Great Britain? The United Kingdom? Certainly not 'England', although this is common enough (McCrone and Kiely 2000). Their empirical work suggests that people in Scotland routinely distinguishing their citizenship and their nationality, perhaps more routinely than their English counterparts (McCrone, 2002). Discussions of nationalism in Scotland often refers to a national identity, Scottish, and a state identity, British (Paterson et al. 2001). But research in England also finds contexts in which people routinely distinguish state and nation. For example Susan Condor (1996, 2000) argues that people in England sometimes use 'British' as their category of choice precisely because they do not wish to prioritise nationality over citizenship. However, 'British' can also be deployed as a nationality carrying considerable emotional resonnance rather than simply being the label of citizenship. In England, the term 'English' may conjure up a white ethnic majority population making the term 'British' seem inclusive in comparison although the term British can also carry negative connotations; for example, in Scotland, the designation, 'British,' is often perceived as too close to English to be an inclusive category (Saeed et al, 1999; McCrone, 2000; Pickering, 2001; Osler and Starkey, 2002). What British actually means to the average resident of the UK remains an empirical question that much existing data has not yet resolved.

2.7 While eloquently demonstrating the empirical confusion between citizenship and nationality, David McCrone and Richard Kiely wish to draw a clear line analytically between the two concepts. 'Nationality and citizenship actually belong to different spheres of meaning and activity. The former is in essence a cultural concept which binds people on the basis of shared identity - in Benedict Anderson's apt phrase as an 'imagined community' - while citizenship is a political concept deriving from people's relationship to the state' (McCrone and Kiely, 2000, 25). Like Prina Werbner and Nira Yuval-Davis (1999) and Gerard Delanty (2000[6]), we want to reserve judgement on whether citizenship could be the basis of an imagined community. Citizenship can surely sometimes become highly significant in claiming and attributing identity even if this is not frequently the case for many of our British respondents with reference to European citizenship.

Regions, Nations and Europe in our Research Design

3.1 Our research design contains a series of strategic comparisons of paired national and regional contexts with different relationships to Europe. In the case of each pair, these are localities that have histories of complex relationships of core and periphery, or dominance and subordinance, and opposing nationalisms, which were likely to be consequential in terms of the attractiveness of European identity. In the case of Scotland and England, there is a history of economic, political, and arguably, also cultural dominance of the latter over the former. Scottish and English nationalism are clearly distinct and the former framed in opposition to the latter. Moreover, while expressions of English nationalism are often associated with antagonism to the European Union, Scottish nationalism, at least at the level of party policies expressed by the Scottish Nationalist Party, has often been pro-European. The history of Vorarlberg and Vienna also suggests that more pro-European sentiments reside in the politically subordinate but economically prosperous region of Vorarlberg, although Vorarlberg now lacks the sustained civic nationalist movement of Scotland. With respect to the Basque Country[7] and Madrid, there are reasons to believe that Euskadian young people are becoming more pro-European as an aspect of their nationalism but they have hitherto been relatively indifferent to Europe. In the case of East and West Germany, indifference or antagonism to Europe is historically and culturally more characteristic of the former while the history of the latter is bound up with the project of the European Union. In the Czech and Slovak Republic, enthusiasm for the European Union was running high during our fieldwork when both countries were on the last lap of EU membership. Enthusiasm was perhaps particularly heightened in the economically weaker Slovak Republic where there were high hopes that accession to the EU will close the gap in relative fortunes of the two states since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Each of these patterns involves a unique history of economic and political power relationships, and of distinctive cultural civic and ethnic nationalisms.

3.2 In the cases of the Czech and Slovak Republics, the selected territories are nation states. The remainders are sub-sections of nation-states or multi-nation states. Neither the word 'region' nor 'nation' is appropriate to describe all of them. In the UK, many residents are likely to be insulted if Scotland or England is called a region and not a 'nation' or 'country'. The Basque country is a nation and country to some of its occupants but 'nation' is not applicable in the other contexts. East and West Germany have a prior history of separate nation states, the GDR (German Democratic Republic) and the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) but are not now nations. In our surveys, we tended to refer to the territories we were describing by their proper name and to avoid labeling them as 'region' or 'nation'. However, for analytical purposes in our study, Scotland and England are equivalent to the regions of Vorarlberg and Vienna in Austria and to the autonomous regions of the Basque country and Madrid in Spain.

Surveys and Samples

4.1 Research for the project was conducted using surveys and qualitative interviews. This paper draws on the former. The survey is often seen as a relatively crude instrument for investigating subtle social processes. This is why we decided to also conduct qualitative work. However, many social scientists, including others sharing our theoretical approach, have successfully tackled aspects of complex issues through surveys. In international work, a collaboratively designed and piloted survey has the advantage of creating a common structured framework for data collection and analysis. But data are only genuinely comparative if the whole process is grounded in shared understandings of the purpose and meaning of questions. Much work went into winning this understanding. The survey was drafted, discussed and reworked in our common language of English, then translated into national languages, piloted and results and experiences shared before collaboratively reworking the questionnaire. This processes boosted shared understanding of intended meaning. Translating the collectively designed questionnaire into national languages without divergence in meaning depended on this.

4.2 Our theoretical approach acknowledges the possibility that attachment to a local town or city might modify sense of attachment to a larger regional or national context. The precise relationship between attachment to a local place, such as a town, and to larger entities such as national or regional territories is a matter we wished to investigate empirically. The research design, therefore, does not attempt representative samples of nation states or even of the selected national and regional contexts, but rather of residents of towns or cities within these selected territories. In each of our paired nations or regions, we have selected a specific city or, in one case, (the Bregenz district of Vorarlberg) three towns within the regional or national context. In each of these cities or towns, we wanted to find representative samples of 18-24 year olds who had been resident there for at least five years and had lived at least half of their life within the region or national territory and were born within the nation-state. The rationale of the residence requirements was to provide a base level of opportunity for developing connections and a sense of identification. Originally, we wished to require that residents had lived at least half of their life in the city but this proved too problematic in terms of time and money taken to locate respondents.

4.3 In addition to these representative samples, 'target' samples were also recruited. This was in order to compare the representative samples with a more privileged group of young adults in terms of their opportunities to have a European identity. They were residents of the same towns and cities and of the same age but whose work or study enhanced their opportunity to have a European identity. They were doing courses in European languages, European law or European studies or working in European oriented workplaces and organisations. This comparative dimension is consistent with an approach which not only recognises the fluidity of identity and the creative role of young people in identity construction but also the cumulative effect of differential opportunities, choices and constraints.

4.4 In practice, it was much more difficult to recruit target groups than anticipated and proved almost impossible in Austria. Vorarlberg has no university. The number of students who had been living in Vienna for 5 years and were taking these particular university courses was relatively small, and there were relatively few students doing these courses who were originally from Vorarlberg. Because of the small numbers recruited to the target samples in Vienna, they are left out of subsequent comparative analysis of representative and target samples.

Numbers of 18-24 year olds in the Representative (R) and Target (T) Samples, by Locality

4.5 In the summer of 2002, survey agencies set to work locating representative samples of 400 residents of at least 5 years, aged 18-24, in each of our localities. In Edinburgh and Manchester, the research company gave a quota sample of addresses in each location to field researchers who visited each address in an attempt to locate 18-24 year olds who had been born in the UK and were long-term residents of the relevant city. The difficulty in obtaining the sample meant that some people who had been born abroad did make their way into the sample (n=22: 14 in Manchester, 8 in Edinburgh), and some of these had spent less than half their life in the research city (n=12: 6 in Manchester and 6 in Edinburgh). All of the people, who were included in the representative sample of residents, had lived in the city for at least 5 years. Difficulties in finding respondents who fitted our criteria meant that fewer people were interviewed in Britain than anticipated (308 in Edinburgh and 364 in Manchester).

4.6 Target samples were recruited predominantly through relevant university courses running in the autumn session of 2002 and the desired numbers of 100 students from each locality were not fully achieved in the time and with the resources available. The intention was again to restrict recruitment to those who were born in the UK and had lived in the city for at least five years. While the former was nearly achieved with around 95% being born in Britain, the latter criteria could not be practically fulfilled and some respondents had not lived in the city for five years. By definition, the target sample is more highly educated than the representative sample since respondents were recruited through degree programmes. They are also very different in terms of their pattern of residence and family commitments as the tables below demonstrate. Only very small proportions of the target sample were living with a partner in comparison to the representative sample and with one exception, all were childless. Some of the characteristics of respondents are shown below:

Characteristics of Target Samples, Manchester & Edinburgh

Characteristics of Target Samples, Manchester & Edinburgh

4.7 We argue that not only is the collaboratively and intensively designed survey a successful tool[10] for insight across national contexts but also that the additional comparative aspects of our research design give our survey data particular purchase for this purpose. The target and representative samples have different socio-economic circumstances within the same regional and national context. The different regional and national contexts within the same nation state offer rather different local cultures and circumstances within a common state framework. It is possible to use these dimensions of differentiation to avoid over simplifying international differences in our data. They offer additional sources of information that assist in appropriately deploying prior knowledge of national contexts when interpreting the data.

Identification with Nation or Europe

5.1 Within our British research samples, it is possible to locate people within two countries and 'nationalities'. Hence our samples were asked, in the case of Manchester, about England and Britain, English and British, and in Edinburgh, about Scotland and Britain, Scottish and British. Looking at the British data through residents of both Scotland and England within an international context enables us to avoid simplifying and exaggerating British exceptionalism. Data on strength of attachment to both a local nation or 'region' and the nation-state exists for six localities (table 1). Data on feelings about the local equivalent to being Scottish/English, British and European exist for eight of the localities (table 2).

5.2 Before discussing these tables in more detail, it is important to note that the different questions produce rather different answers. For example, although 77% of respondents in Bilbao express being strongly attached to the Basque Country, only 68% express strong feelings about being of Basque. Similarly, the proportion expressing strong feelings about being Spanish or European were even lower than those expressing attachment to Spain or Europe. The opposite was the case among German respondents. Larger proportions reported 'strong feelings about being' East or West German, German and European than 'strong attachment to' East or West Germany, Germany or Europe. Such differences in answers suggest that no one way of asking should be treated as an adequate comparative measure of levels of identity with 'region', nation state and Europe. With respect to the answers, what is broadly consistent across the two questions is the pattern of identification with 'region', nation state and Europe within each of the localities.

5.3 In the way that the tables are presented, one way in which different questions produce different answers has been highlighted. The localities are not always presented in a standard order in each table but rather they are ranked from the locality with the highest proportion of the representative sample apparently identifying with Europe to the lowest. The ranking typically changes with the question although Edinburgh, Manchester and Bilbao are consistently low.

5.4 Analysis of variance finds a stronger association across the research sites between identification with the nation-state and Europe than between identification with a regional or local national territory and Europe. However, this is clearly not a simple causal rule and cannot be interpreted without further understanding of the quality and aetiology of identifications with local nationalisms, the nation state and Europe, as we hope the subsequent discussion demonstrates.

Table 1.Percentage of Representative and Target Samples[11] with strong or complete attachment to 'Region', Nation State and Europe[12]

5.5 Looking across table 1 at levels of attachment to local nation, nation state and Europe among the representative samples, in two localities, Chemnitz and Bielefeld, more respondents express atttachment to the nation-state, in three, Edinburgh, Manchester and Bilbao, more respondents express attachment to the local nation and in Madrid more or less the same proportion express attachment to the autonomous region of Madrid and the nation state of Spain (see also Grad et al., 2004). When the question about attachment to these territories is replaced by a question about feelings about nationalism (table 2), that is feelings about being, for example, East German or Basque versus German or Spanish, this pattern remains the same. In the case of the question about feeling nationalism, there are also data for Vorarlberg and Vienna where the proportion expressing local identification, being a Vorarlberger or Viennes, are larger than those expressing identification with the nation-state or Europe. In about half of the cases, the pattern is the same in the target sample but the proportion identifying with Europe exceeds nation state identification among the target sample in Bielefeld, Chemnitz and Bilbao.

Table 2. Percentage of Representative and Target samples expressing very strong or strong feelings about being different sorts of Nationality[13]

5.6 This difference in the pattern of answers between Edinburgh and Manchester is consistent with local nationalism displacing identification with the nation state in Scotland but not in England. The tendency of residents of Scotland to describe themselves as Scottish rather than British has been well documented and its meaning much discussed by others (Paterson et al. 2001). Within representative and target samples from Edinburgh, there is a very large gap between the proportions identifying with Scotland or being Scottish in comparision to those identifying with Britain. There is a similar pattern with respect to identifying with the Basque Country or being Basque in comparision to identifying with Spain or being Spanish among respondents from Bilbao. This is very different among respondents from Manchester and Madrid, where, within the representative and target samples, fairly similar proportions identify with England and Britain, Madrid and Spain. Calculation of correlation coefficients confirm that, for our Edinburgh sample, identification with Scotland is only very weakly correlated with identification with Britain while in all other localities except Bilbao identification with 'region' and nation-state are strongly correlated.. Identification with the Basque country is not at all correlated with identification with Spain.

5.7 While it may be possible to claim that local nationalisms displace attachment to the nation state in both Bilbao and Edinburgh, many details of the context of Bilbao and Madrid are not, of course, exactly parallel to that of Edinburgh and Manchester. Note that in Manchester, the better educated target sample, selected because their studies potentially oriented them to Europe, was less likely than the representative sample to identify strongly with England/Englishness and Britain/Britishness as well as more likely to identify with Europe. The Edinburgh target sample were slightly more likely to identify with Britain/Britishness and slightly less likely to identify with Scotland/Scottishness than the Edinburgh representative sample. In consequence, the differences between Edinburgh and Manchester were somewhat softer among the target samples. Susan Condor has shown that in England 'nationalism' in the sense of a strong emotional commitment to nation is associated with negative connotations of conservatism and irrationality. Hence, it is perhaps not surprising that university students, as relatively 'liberal' people, are inclined to downplay both English and British identity (Condor, 1996; 2000). It seems that in Scotland, emotional attachment to being Scottish is not equivalently stigmatized among educated groups who were only slightly less likely to identify with Scotland/Scottishness than their peers in the representative sample. The somewhat more positive orientation to the label British among the target sample may be in part compensatory for Scottish nationalism. There were no such marked difference between the target and representative samples from Madrid in terms of identification with Spain/Spanishness. This clearly did not carry negative connotations for the better educated target sample in Madrid and there is no equivalent discourse in Spain to the frequently produced alignment in the British media of both Englishness and Britishness with aloofness from Europe. At the same time there was absolutely no convergence towards the pattern of responses in Madrid among the target sample from Bilbao. They were even more likely than the representative sample from Bilbao to identify with the Basque country and no more likely to identify with Spain.

5.8 Identification with Europe is lowest among the representative samples in Edinburgh, Manchester and Bilbao. The patterns of stronger identification with Scotland over Britain over Europe, the Basque country over Spain and Europe and England over Britain over Europe are not quite as clear cut among the target samples. Respondents from the target samples in Bilbao and Edinburgh are either more likely or almost as likely to express identification with Europe as they are to Britain or Spain. In general, differences between localities in levels of identification with Europe are more modest between countries across the target samples than across the representative samples. In table 1, the British target samples do not exhibit the lowest levels of attachment to Europe and are little different from several other localities. In table 2, they remain in the bottom grouping in terms of identification with Europe but differences between the high and low identification groups are more modest than in the representative sample. Note that differences between target and representative sample are even more marked in Edinburgh than in Manchester. There is no correlation between identification with Britain or Scotland and identification with Europe among the Edinburgh target sample; target sample members are equally likely to identify with Europe regardless of whether their national allegiance was to Scotland or Britain. Comparison between the representative and target samples show that the pervasiveness of Scottish identity as part of the cultural context of Scotland does not preclude a European identity. When opportunities have oriented young people to Europe, their cultural background of strong regional or local nationalism does not cut them off from identification with Europe. This observation falls far short of the thesis that a strong local nationalism such as strong Scottish identity, which clearly displaced many respondents from strong identification with their nation state, will in itself encourage supra-state nationalism. There is little evidence of this pattern in the data.

5.9 In tables 1 and 2, among the representative samples, except for respondents from the German sites of Bielefeld and Chemnitz, levels of identification with Europe are markedly outstripped by either attachment to a regional or national territory or to the nation state or both. Among the target samples, more German respondents express identification with Europe than with Germany and, although levels of identification vary between the two questions, identification with Europe remains higher than in most other localities. A continuing sense of the need for vigilance against any resurgence of the German nationalism of the Second World War makes many forms of identification with the nation suspect in Germany. Identification with Europe, on the other hand, is a socially acceptable way of expressing being German that cannot be construed as a dangerous nationalism. This orientation to being German and European was perhaps particularly strong among our target samples.

5.10 Apart from the German localities, the cities with the largest proportion of respondents expressing strong feelings about both their nationality and being European were Prague and Bratislava (Table 2). The history of the relatively recent creation of the Czech and Slovak Republics from the former Czechoslovakia and being on the eve of membership of the European Union at the time of the research were clearly key parts of the explanation.

Citizen of Europe and the World?

6.1 Respondents were also asked 'Can you tell me how frequently you think of yourself as a European citizen'. Nowhere do more than half the representative samples see themselves as European citizens 'always or often', although respondents in Bielefeld are very close at 49% (see Table 3). In Britain, over half of respondents in both localities chose the response 'never' and over three quarters said 'never' or 'rarely/seldom', with even fewer choosing always or often in Edinburgh than in Manchester. The level of responses with respect to European citizenship were very similar in Prague and Bratislava. However, there the low proportions thinking of themselves as European citizens can be explained by the fact that Czech and Slovak people were not yet citizens of the European Union and therefore only 'citizens of Europe' in the more rhetorical sense of 'European'; somewhat equivalent to the rather looser way we speak of 'global citizens'.

6.2 Among the target samples, again differences across national contexts are more muted and differences between the target and the representative samples were more acute in Edinburgh than Manchester. 40% of Edinburgh target sample 'always or often' think of themselves as a European citizen compared to 22% among the target sample from Manchester. In terms of global citizenship, the British reprentative sample, both young men and women, are similarly disconnected.

Table 3. Percentage of Representative (R) and Target (T) Samples always or often thinking of Self as a European Citizen and a Global Citizen[14]

6.3 Very similar proportions of the representative sample in Bielefeld thought of themselves as global and European citizens. Their peers in the target sample were equally likely to see themselves as global citizens but much more likely to see themselves as European. Not surprisingly, in all localities the target sample were much more likely to think of themselves as European citizens than the representative samples but in most cases they were also more likely to think of themselves as global citizens. Spanish respondents were the most likely to think of themselves as 'global citizens'. In Madrid and Bilbao the majority of both representative and target samples said the 'always or often' think of themselves as such. More Spanish respondents were oriented to being global citizens than to being European citizens (Sig at <0.001), in both Madrid and Bilbao, the target and representative samples. Few in the British, Czech or Slovak samples report thinking of themselves as a global citizen. This pattern of response is more likely to reflect different cultural and political uses of 'citizenship' than to be grounded in experiences of travel or ties to other parts of the globe. In terms of experiences of travel within Europe, the Spanish and British are similarly relatively isolated and distinct from respondents in Prague and Bratislava. While over 80% of the representative samples from Bratislava and Prague can speak more than one European language and have visited another European country since they were 16, this was true of only 16% of the representative sample from Manchester, 22% from Madrid, 31% from Edinburgh and 41% from Bilbao, although differences between the target samples were much less marked. In terms of global connections, Britain and Spain have large diaspora. It is common for British people to claim relatives in other English speaking parts of the world but yet few see themselves as global citizens, while many from Bilbao do so.

Interest in and Perceptions of Europe

7.1 Respondents were asked to indicate their level of interest in a series of social and political issues, including the 'Unification of Europe' (table 4). Several other issues were more likely to be seen as interesting but around 50% of the representative samples expressed interest in the Unification of Europe in all sites except Bilbao, Edinburgh and Manchester where there was much lower interest. Once again differences were less marked among the target samples.

Table 4. Interest or great interest in the 'Unification Of Europe' as a Social and Political Issue by Research Locality

7.2 Our respondents were also asked to indicate how important different aspects of Europe were with respect to 'what Europe means to you': the European Union; the Euro; geography, values and traditions (table 5). In both Edinburgh and Manchester, the perception of Europe identified as important by the largest proportion of the representative sample was 'certain traditions and customs', chosen by 39% and 41% respectively. The largest proportion, over 70%, of the target sample, on the other hand, chose the European Union. It is important to note, that unlike every other locality, no item was chosen as important by over 50% of the representative samples in Edinburgh or Manchester. This reflects the general lack of meaningfulness of Europe to many of the British respondents. While 70% or more of the representative samples in Prague, Bratislava, Chemnitz, Bielefeld and Madrid, thought that two or more of the items were important in terms of the meaning of Europe, this was the case for only 36% of the representative samples in Edinburgh and Manchester. In Edinburgh, 45% of the representative sample did not see any of the items as important in terms of what Europe meant to them, basically because Europe does not mean anything much at all. In comparison, less than 10% of the target samples and the representative samples in Chemnitz and Bielefeld thought that none of the items were important. Table 5 suggests that in Bilbao Europe was much less likely to mean nothing than it was among the British respondents, despite the fact that levels of European identity were just as low as they were in Edinburgh and Manchester.

Table 5. Percentage of Representative (R) and Target (T) Samples choosing item as 'very important' or 'important' for 'what Europe means to you'

The Significance of Nation and Europe to sense of Self

8.1 It should be clear from the introduction that survey questions worded in terms of 'feelings for' or 'attachment to' nation cannot be presumed to be capturing a permanent and core aspect of a person's sense of self. Neither should it be presumed that orientations to nation are significant aspects of the self while orientations to Europe are not. The last set of measures in the survey were designed to try and examine the relative significance of a series of attributes and assets that can be the basis of identity claims (e.g. gender and class) or otherwise perceived as consequential for identities (e.g. friends and family). Respondents were offered a list of items and asked 'how would you rate the importance of the following in terms of who you are, that is, how you feel or think about yourself as a person?' Large majorities identified friends and family as very important or important for their sense of self. Friends were chosen by the largest majorities in Edinburgh and Manchester (94% of the representative sample in Manchester and 92% in Edinburgh) followed by 'family relationships/being a parent' (chosen as important by 92% and 88% in Manchester and Edinburgh respectively), then 'your job or plan for employment' (chosen as important by 86% in Manchester, 80% in Edinburgh), 'partner or spouse' (86% in Manchester, 72% in Edinburgh) and education (chosen as important by 80% in Manchester, 74% in Edinburgh).

8.2 All of these items were more important than nationality, 'being from Britain' (chosen by 59% of the representative sample and 45% of the target sample in Manchester and 34% and 43% respectively in Edinburgh) or being from England (63% of the representative sample and 51% of the target sample in Manchester) or being from Scotland (68% of the representative sample and 70% of the target sample in Edinburgh). Among ethnic minorities in the British representative samples, 'being from Britain' was similarly not as important as many other sources of identity and the same overall proportion (59%) chose this item. However, it was important to a slightly larger proportion of ethnic minority young adults than of those who defined themselves as white Scottish or English. Equivalently, being from Scotland or England was less important. The enhanced sense of Britishness rather than Englishness or Scottishness among the ethnic minority communities is an issue discussed in other literature (Worcester, 2002). In contrast, recent research (Saeed et al, 1999) has found that young Pakistani people living in Glasgow tended to opt for bi-cultural statements of Scottish Pakistani and to choose Scottish over British.

8.3 Table 6 shows the relative importance of being from Scotland/England, being from Britain and being a citizen of the European Union and the eqivalent categories in all of the other localities.[15]. This table again presents patterns that have already been discussed such as the greater separation of Scottish and British identity than of English and British, the low level of identification with Europe in Edinburgh, Manchester and Bilbao and the relative lack of association between local nationalism and a European identity. Being a citizen of the European union was not important to the sense of self of many of the British representative sample, only 25% of young people in Manchester and 15% in Edinburgh. While still less important than many other factors, more young people from ethnic minorities rated citizenship of the European Union as important (32% rated it very important or important). As would be expected, being a citizen of the European Union was much more important to the target samples, and the gap between the representative and target sample was again more marked in Edinburgh than Manchester.

8.4 For most of the representative samples, a smaller proportion of respondents saw membership of the European Union as significant to their sense of self than the proportion thinking of themselves as European citizens (table 3). The difference was particularly marked for residents of Bilbao among whom only 17% regard being a citizen of the European Union as important to their sense of self despite the fact that 31% often or always see themselves as European citizens. The exceptions to this pattern were the samples from Prague and Bratislava, the sites with the highest proportion of respondents rating 'being or becoming a citizen of the European Union'. This is not necessarily in contradiction with the fact that relatively few respondents from Prague or Bratislava frequently think of themselves as 'a European citizen' (table 3). The process of accession to the Europe Union has necessarily made people very conscious of their current status outside the EU lacking the 'European citizenship' of those within the EU. Interviews have indicated very high hopes and expectations hang on membership of the European Union, particularly in the Slovak republic and that hopes are also balanced by the fear of being treated as second class citizens within Europe (see final report, Jamieson et al 2005).

Table 6. Percentage of Representative (R) and Target (T) Samples Identifying being from 'Region', Nation-State and, being a Citizen of the European Union as very Important or Important to their sense of Self[16]


9.1 The typical respondents among the representative samples of 18-24 year old residents of Edinburgh and Manchester shared a lack of interest in and identification with either 'Europe' or the European Union. This is despite being very different in terms of their orientations to nation and state. The typical young man and woman from Edinburgh identified with Scotland and not Britain, while his or her counterpart from Manchester identified with both England and Britain. Gender differences have not been systematically discussed because very few were found in the data, and particularly in Edinburgh and Manchester.

9.2 The thesis predicting that a lack of identification with nation-state might open the way to a supra-state identity was clearly not borne out by the residents of Edinburgh as most lacked any strong sense of either European identity or global citizenship. It is not clear whether for many of the Manchester representative sample, being British was a national identity that was not strongly differentiation from their English identity or clearly separate, for example as a multi-national state identity in which being English was nested. In either case, for many of these respondents, Britishness was not a stepping stone to either being European or a sense of global citizenship. Among the representative samples most Manchester and Edinburgh respondents seemed relatively cut off from the rest of the world in comparison to their peers elsewhere.

9.3 The overall picture is very different among the better-educated target samples that were by definition more likely to be pro-European. Differences between Manchester and even more so Edinburgh and the other localities in terms of identification with Europe were much more muted. The relative lack of differences between the target samples are suggestive of the possibilities of levelling out local and national cultural factors through common educational career paths. If a residual effect of some aspect of the regional and national context remains, then this is stronger in Manchester than Edinburgh. A consistently somewhat larger proportion of the target sample from Edinburgh strongly identified with Europe.

9.4 The use of a range of survey measures of identification with nation and Europe has provided both awareness of quirkiness of individual instruments and the solidity of patterns in the data. The international comparison demonstrates that the British representative samples are similar to Bilbao in terms of many measures of European identity. The contrast between Edinburgh and Manchester in terms of identification with nation and state is also similar to that between Bilbao and Madrid. Across the locations of our research, respondents from the representative sample in Edinburgh, Manchester and Bilbao were the least oriented to Europe. While it has not been possible to present all the data, these respondents were also relatively disengaged from nation-state politics and, along with the representative sample from Madrid, had relatively low rates of 'doing Europe' in terms of travel across Europe, language skills and friendships elsewhere in Europe in comparison to all the other sites (Fuss et al. 2004). These are all factors that can be plausibly deployed to help explain their low levels of European identity. However, residents of Bilbao were radically different from residents of both Edinburgh and Manchester in many other respects: Europe was less likely to be meaningless category, they were more likely to acknowledge being 'European citizens', and much more likely to see themselves as global citizens. A case could be made for suggesting that for residents of Bilbao lack of identification with a nation state had opened the way for a rhetorical use of supra-national identity, 'global citizen', but not identification with an actual supra-national state, the European Union. Further work is required to explore the socio-political discourse of residents from Bilbao, but it is likely that the European Union and the Spanish state were regarded as too aligned to make identification with the Europe Union attractive. There is not an equally vigorous Spanish equivalent of the popular rhetoric and official government talk that discursively creates distance between the British state and the European Union within Britain.

9.5 More detailed international comparison has provided a clear warning that, despite a general tendency for identification with nation-state and Europe to be correlated, this masks a range of orientations to nation, state and Europe spawned by a variety of geo-political contexts. Association between identification with the nation state and identification with Europe concealed different meanings. For example, ambivalence about 'being German' and its neutralisation through association with being European suggests a rather different inflection from enthusiasm for becoming citizens of the European Union as a means of boosting the fortunes of the relatively new nation-state of the Slovak or Czech Republic. The difference in significance of 'region' or local nation and nation-state for identification with Europe is the result of the different socio-political structures, barriers and incentives to engage with Europe. The unification of Germany, the 'Velvet Divorce' of Czechoslovakia, and the future membership of the European Union of the Czech and Slovak Republics have had major impacts on how people view their homeland(s) and the significance and breadth of orientations to different levels of societal organisation. How young adults see their nation-state, their awareness of their national citizenship and their sense of their national polity as responsive or not to their concerns is a mediating factor in their orientation to Europe that it has not been possible to fully explore. 'Regional' contexts also provided very different sorts of formal and informal opportunities for young adults to learn about Europe or 'do' Europe through travel, networking and talking with people of different national and cultural backgrounds. They also offer different political uses of the concept of 'citizenship' as well as variation in experiences which might be labeled European citizenship. Similarly, local contexts offered rather different cultural repertoires of images of 'Europe' and the European Union. For example in some localities very negative stereotypes of immigrants and views on immigration are folded into discourse making reference to the enlargement of the European Union.


1 The partners, researchers and consultants in this investigation are: Professor Claire Wallace and Reingard Spannring, Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna, Austria; Professor Klaus Boehnke and Daniel Fuss, International University Bremen and Professor Bernhard Nauck, Technische Universitaet Chemnitz, Germany; Professor Ladislav Machá?ek; Dr. Gabriel Bianchi, Barbara Lášticová and Pavla Machá?ková, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia, and Professor Maria Ros and Miryam Rodriguez Monter, Universidad Complutense de Madrid and Dr. Hector Grad and Gema Garcia Albacete, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain; and Dr. Susan Condor, Lancaster University, England and the coordinator Professor Lynn Jamieson, Dr. Sue Grundy and Professor David McCrone, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

2 or in the case of the two accession states that participate in the study, being about to become under that jurisdiction

3 This is part of a multi-site European Commission funded project 'Orientations of Young Men and Women to Citizenship and European Identity' ( Using surveys and qualitative studies, the views and experiences are explored of 'representative samples' of young men and women aged 18-24 and young men and women on educational paths likely to take them on 'European careers' beyond their national boundaries.

4 We are therefore attracted to previous research in sociology and social psychology which explores the social process of making identity claims and attributing particular identities to others and hence wanted to work with people like Susan Condor who is a co-investigator in the EC project and David McCrone who acts as a consultant.

5See also the various 'socio demographic reports' for the European Commission funded project 'Orientations of Young Men and Women to Citizenship and European Identity' published on the website at

6 with specific reference to Europe

7 Euskadi or the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country

8 A small number are living in their parental home with a partner.

9 A small number are living in their parental home with their child.

10 Our website also contains a copy of the questionnaire.

11 This question was not asked in Austria.

12 The question asked was "People may feel different degrees of attachment to their city, town or village, to their region, to their country or to Europe. Thinking about your own attachments, and using the scale on this card (0=not at all attached - 4=completely attached), please tell me how attached you feel to: Where you were born (town or city), to .... 'region': (East Germany and West Germany for interviewees in Chemnitz and Bielefeld; the Autonomous Regions of the Basque Country or Madrid for respondents in Bilbao and Madrid, England and Scotland for respondents in Manchester and Edinburgh] to ...'nation' [Czech Republic for respondents in Prague, Slovak Republic for respondents in Slovakia, Germany for respondents in Chemnitz and Bielefeld, Spain for respondents in Madrid and Bilbao, Britain for respondents in Edinburgh and Manchester], to Europe."

13 The question asked was 'Now I would like to ask you about the strength of how you feel about being different sorts of nationality? On a scale of 0-4 (0=no feeling at all, 4=Very strong feeling) how do you feel about being... English/Scottish, British, European [and using corresponding proper names for the other sites]?'

14 The question asked was ' Can you tell me how frequently (Scale shown was Never/Rarely/Sometimes/ Often/Always) you think of yourself as the a European a global citizen'.

15 Or a future citizen for those people in the Slovak and Czech Republics.

16 The question asked was "Using the scale (0 Not at all important - 4 Very Important) how would you rate the importance of the following in terms of who you are, that is, how you feel or think about yourself as a person?"


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