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The Sociologists’ Struggle for a European Identity

By Marinus Ossewaarde

University of Twente, Netherlands


Published: Aug 10, 2017 | pg. no: 12

Abstract: In recent years, the European identity has been widely researched by sociologists who take an interest in mass and elite identification with the European project. In this article it is argued that the European identity is not only a research object for sociologists interested in identification: it is also their creation. Sociologists theorize and shape a European identity in, by and through their writings. The main objective of this article is to narrate the history of European identity making in sociology. In the first part, it is argued that these two different, clashing approaches to the European identity – namely, the civilizational and the cultural approaches – can be discerned in sociological works throughout European history. They persist in the post-war period when the European identity increasingly comes to depend on the EU. The objective of the second part is to show that the post-war identities ‘Social Europe’, ‘Cosmopolitan Europe’ and more recently, ‘German Europe’ are equivocal. It is found that they are interpreted differently depending on whether sociologists endorse the civilizational or the cultural approach.

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