RECON Report No 18


Identity and Democracy in the New Europe

The Next Generation Finds Its Way

Olga Brzezińska, Erika Kurucz, Ulrike Liebert and Rosemarie Sackmann (eds)

RECON Report No 18

ARENA Report 2/12, Oslo, February 2012


Of the possible paths of European democratic development, the RECON project suggests three democratic configurations: a confederation of nation states; a multi-national federation; and a post-national, cosmopolitan democracy. To a lesser or larger degree they all require a collective identity for the legitimacy of the polity. What kind of collective identity or narrative is required for a federal European Union or a post-national polity? Based on empirical evidence, this report explores what identity narratives prevail among the university students of three member states – Germany, Hungary and Poland.

Based on their evaluations about democratic processes and civic membership, this report uses Q methodology, a quantitative-qualitative method, to elicit and construct identity narratives of German, Hungarian and Polish students. The report explores whether these vernacular narratives correspond to the three RECON democracy narratives. It finds considerable resonance; but also some dissonance: most narratives express both a national and a European identity; the opposition assumed in theory is not found in practice. Some narratives mix elements of the three RECON models in unexpected ways, raising questions about conceptual distinctions. Comparing the three parallel country studies reveals several crossborder commonalities among identity narratives and few differences between so-called ‘old’ and ‘new’ member states.

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