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Religion and Political Theory: Secularism, Accommodation and The New Challenges of Religious Diversity, Edited by Jonathan Seglow and Andrew Shorten

“Where’s Democracy? Whose is the Culture?”: Spatial Dimensioning of Civic and Cultural European Identity Frames in Italian Online Public Discourses

Southern Europe
Elizaveta Matveeva
Irkutsk State University
Elizaveta Matveeva
Irkutsk State University

The paper discusses preliminary results of the project that analyses a variety of actors involved in the process of European identity construction in Italy and of a variety of European identity frames they offer to the Italian general public. Methodologically it relies on application of political claims analysis, as well as of qualitative and quantitative frame analysis, to the study of identity discourses and uses data retrieved from electronic media and other Internet resources. Qualitative frame analysis demonstrates that in most cases, when different actors speak about a sense of common belonging to Europe, they use complex, non-linear narratives to approach this argument. Standard cultural and civic identity frames appear to be multidimensional ones and to have different spatial and temporal modifications. These spatial dimensions imply a number of levels (local/regional, national, European or global) regarded as crucial in the sense of cultural diversity to be preserved/promoted or of divergent perceptions about preferable key level of democratic participation and civic engagement. Departing from the qualitative analysis of this variety of European identity frames and their dimensions, the paper proceeds by applying quantitative text analysis techniques to examine the relationship between these elements. The analysis of materials from project dataset reveals that even cultural and civic components in EI frames are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, the level of their compatibility is rather high. In the majority of cases, then, European identity, both civic and cultural, is represented as self-sufficient, but a number of entries where European level of spatial identification is positively or negatively correlated with national and regional ones cannot be regarded as irrelevant. References to the local and global dimensions, in turn, are quite rare within the dataset.
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