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The Localization of Territorial Identity: Globalization and the Citizen in the OECD

Jefferey Sellers
University of Southern California
Anders Lidström
Umeå Universitet
Jefferey Sellers
University of Southern California
Open Panel

Abstract

In Europe and beyond, the period from 1981-2003 has generally been considered an era of internationalization in institutions, the economy and society. One of the least understood dimensions of the transformations in territorial relations in Europe and other advanced industrial societies has been the consequences for territorial identity among ordinary citizens. This analysis employs data from both the World Values Survey and the International Social Survey Program to examine how the shifts in governance, the economy and society have affected the sense of territorial belonging among citizens. Previous survey-based studies of territorial identity, focused mostly on Europe, have predominantly focused on whether identification at the global and world-regional scale has grown. Our analysis distinguishes denationalized identification at the local and subnational level (“localization”) from processes of identification with territorial scales beyond the nation-state (“internationalization”). Internationalized identity has not only failed to increase, but has declined significantly. Identification with one’s town or city, and to a lesser degree with one’s region, has grown significantly throughout the OECD. Multilevel, multivariate analysis confirms the significance of this overall shift, and shows it to be particularly pronounced among countries involved in the process of European integration. Neither globalization theory nor accounts of simultaneous “glocalized” transformations at the local and global levels can account for these findings. Rather, transnational integration has fostered a diffuse localization of identity consistent with the fragmentation postulated by postmodern theorists. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of these findings for democracy in Europe and beyond.