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Title: Raising European citizens? : European narratives, European schools and students' identification with Europe
Author: Rohde-Liebenau, Judith
ISNI:       0000 0004 7234 243X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Fostering identification with Europe among citizens could legitimise European integration. Whether such an identity exists, however, remains an on-going debate among scholars. This research returns to the foundations of how a European identity is constructed, transmitted and transformed. It explores narratives of European identity in a carefully chosen context - European Schools for children of EU officials - where identification with Europe should mirror official EU visions. A qualitative content analysis explores narrations of 101 students collected during interviews and focus groups across three schools, and analyses documents and interviews with EU officials, school directors and teachers. This analysis reveals a descriptive puzzle: official EU and European School propositions of (multi-) national narratives differ markedly from teachers' and students' conceptions of cosmopolitan and transnational identities. The EU constructs an out-group of its own nationalist past and non-EU citizens. On the other hand, students construct an explicitly European in-group, but differentiate themselves from more national and less mobile lifestyles. This disparity, in turn, reveals a causal puzzle about how differences in narratives emerge. I use process tracing to elucidate the relationship between European schooling and students' identification with Europe. The results show a distorted transmission where broader EU goals are elaborated and transformed by teachers and further fuelled by interactions amongst students with similarly mobile and multilingual backgrounds. I develop a dual mechanism to understand how the varieties of identification with Europe develop: the concept of "doing Europe" explains how students nourish a transnational social network; "telling Europe", on the other hand, considers students' exposure to European symbols and stories in school and both national and anti-nationalist narratives provided by teachers and peers. Together, this leads to a transformed but ultimately European in-group understanding. Overall, this project underlines the complexity of identity construction, given that top-down transmission gets altered even in this favourable case. Specifically, it informs future research on European identity by detailing peculiar narratives and offering a causal approach to how these narratives emerge.
Supervisor: Fisher, Stephen Sponsor: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: European identity ; European Schools ; Europe ; education ; nationalism ; citizenship ; process tracing ; narratives ; European Union ; identity ; schools ; teachers