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Representing European in-group and the ''other''. The vision of social democratic parties , 1970-2009.

Valeria Camia
Universität St Gallen
Valeria Camia
Universität St Gallen
Open Panel

Abstract

This paper traces and analyses visions on European identity as common-identity group of the British, German and Italian social democratic parties, between1969 and 2009. Since the work of Turner and Tajfel (1979), sociological studies have shown that group identity can develop from minimal identification with the group (common-identity group) in comparison to an ‘other’ group, irrespective of the contents that the identification entails by itself. This relational understanding of collective identity has hardly be been taken into account in comparative politics studies about European identity. In this paper, this lacuna is addressed, with a focus on British, German and Italian social democratic parties. Representations on European common-identity group, in comparison to an ‘other’, constructed by social democratic parties are traced and analyzed across different discursive contexts and over time. The analysis investigates whether a shared representation of European common-identity group has ultimately developed in concomitance with the furthering of European integration, and how different courses have been followed by parties to impose certain discursive representations. First, the paper shows how the question of European identity is analysed using a sociological perspective; second, the methodological quantitative approach used in the analysis (based on party manifesto) is clarified; finally, evidence concerning the development of European in-group identity is presented and discussed. The theoretical contribution is to reflect on a conceptualization of European identity, which can include simultaneous multiplicity of values and norms. The empirical contribution is to understand how European common-identity group has developed, why and with which consequences.