NECE

Finding political identities in Europe

7.12.2017
Alistair RossAlistair Ross (© privat)
What are the political attitudes of young Europeans (12 - 20 years)? The current and future political and social participation of young people in the European project is critical to the long-term success of the Union. My qualitative study of the views of some 2000 young people, in over 100 locations across 29 EU and Candidate states, was through 350 group discussions about how they construct their political/locational identities.
  • Young people see attachment to their country as cultural rather than political: they largely reject outdated feelings of nationalism.
    • In France, Belgium and the Netherlands there were concerns about what constituted identity with the country.
    • In Germany, young people welcomed new Germans: this was reciprocated by those of migrant origin.
    • In eastern European countries, nationalism is now of less significance.
    • Nordic young people explicitly reject nationalism as racist: some were unwilling to admit to ‘pride’ in their country.
    • Young people in the Balkan states often felt ambivalent about the status and position of their country.
    • In the southern states of Italy, Portugal and Spain they felt stigmatised as underdeveloped.
    • These findings underscore the importance of recognising and responding to the political and cultural identities of marginalised groups (sometimes called ‘hard-to-reach’), as explored in the NECE hard-to-reach working group’s book Beyond Them and Us.[1]
  • In all countries, many young people referred to a Europe of human rights.

  • Initial doubts about a common European culture disappeared when asked about other political contexts. Referring to the values of democratic institutions and the denial of gay and LBGT rights made Europe political/cultural reality. An important way to mobilise young people’s sense of Europe is to focus on the extension of human rights.

  • Many were committed and empathetic to refugees and those of migrant descent. Living and being educated alongside those of different origins helped them appreciate cultural differences.

  • Most said that they talked primarily with parents and family, less so with friends, and few discussed these issues in school. There were rare exceptions where schools encouraged genuine debate.
We must change how we approach young Europeans about the nature of Europe – be less fact-based, more centred on issues that concern them, not rights achieved long ago. This means tackling controversial issues in a lively way that respects their views and opinions. Asking what they can do to effect change will lead to a more active consideration of political processes within Europe, and a greater commitment to future political involvement. Schools and teachers need a different approach to teaching and learning in this area.


Fußnoten

1.
Alistair Ross holds a Jean Monnet Chair in Citizenship Education in Europe and is Emeritus Professor, London Metropolitan University. He is a member of the NECE Working Group ALL=IN (formerly the Hard-to-Reach group, and co-editor of the NECE book Beyond Us versus Them (2016). The research outlined in this article is reported more fully in his two books, Understanding the Construction of Identities by young new Europeans: Kaleidoscopic identities (2015, Routledge) and Finding Political Identities: Young people in a changing Europe (2018, Palgrave Macmillan).
alistairrosslondon@gmail.com
www.alistairross.eu

 

Newsbox

Please take a look at the new NECE Newsletter: NECE Newsletter 04/2017 (html-Version)

MAPPING TRANSITION IN EASTERN EUROPE: Experience of Change after the End of Communism,
edited by Louisa Slavkova
—> Click here for the publication

European Civic Academy - NGOs as Drivers for Enhanced, Civic and Democratic Spaces in Europe,
30 September - 1st October 2017 in Bruxelles.
Register here

Inside Our Blind Spots - What we report and what we don't see.
Medienkonferenz in Kyiv on 5-8 October 2017.
Register here

'Hard to Reach' Focus Group - Your chance to get involved!
Labelling learners as 'Hard to Reach' immediately suggests that the problem lies with the learner rather than the educational system. The group is now seeking a more appropriate name as we encourage more people to…

Short Interview with Jon Worth

Meijvogel-Volk about the Democracy in the Netherlands
NECE.eu spoke to Tatjana Meijvogel-Volk from ProDemos – House for Democracy and the Rule of Law about the elections results and their effect to the work of civil society platforms like NECE. Read here.

Haci Halil Uslucan about the Turkish-European Relations
NECE spoke to Haci Halil Uslucan, Professor for Modern Turkish Studies and Integration Research at Duisburg-Essen University about the threat to democracy and Turkey's prospects of joining the EU. Read here.

Civic Education in Eastern Europe - bpb publishes collection of essays as free e-book in English and Russian
The Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung/bpb) has published the book "Civic Education and Democratisation in Eastern Partnership Countries". The publication is available as a free e-book in English and Russian language.

MAPPING TRANSITION IN EASTERN EUROPE: Experience of Change after the End of Communism, edited by Louisa Slavkova
Click here for the publication