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Mapping attitudes towards the European Union. A comparative analysis among European citizens of 27 member states

Masterarbeit 2014 74 Seiten

Soziologie - Kultur, Technik und Völker


List of contents

1 Introduction
1.1 Relevance
1.2 Research attempt
1.3 General limitations

2 Previous research
2.1 Overview of relevant research and prevailing approaches
2.1.1 Findings of qualitative and quantitative research
2.1.2 Concepts of identity
2.1.3 Explanatory national institutions
2.2 Research gaps and this study’s point of contact

3 Theory
3.1 Theoretical perspectives and basic assumptions
3.2 Definition of fundamental concepts
3.2.1 EU-identification and EU-support
3.2.2 Framing the EU - a dualistic concept
3.3 National institutions: Three explanatory models
3.3.1 National value orientation
3.3.2 Political opportunity cost model
3.3.3 National identity type

4 Methods and data
4.1 Positioning in research field
4.2 Research design and hypotheses
4.3 Dataset and operationalisation

5 Results
5.1 Overview of EU-identification and EU-support by dimension
5.2 Ideal type matrices
5.3 Relative shares of ideal types
5.4 Overall results and country clustering
5.5 Evaluation of explanatory variables

6 Discussion
6.1 Further research
6.2 Political implications
6.3 Outlook


The European Union’s growing range of competences increases the degree of required societal support among the member states’ citizens. This study intends to ‘map’ national attitudes towards the EU and to deduct their political implications. Therefore, the concepts of i) identification with the EU and ii) support of the EU are combined within a matrix of four ideal types.

Individuals are assigned to these four ideal types: the ‘EU-Enthusiasts’, the ‘EU-Pragmatics’, the ‘sceptical EU-Idealists’, and the ‘EU-Opponents’/’EU-Non-affected’. I claim that the population share of the two ‘mixed’ ideal types - mostly neglected in the literature - provide essential insight into national attitude towards the EU: ‘sceptical EU-Idealists’ identify themselves as citizens of the EU but are critical towards its politics; on the other hand, ‘EU-Pragmatics’ support the EU’s politics but do not identify with its institutions or its community.

The study’s main finding is the enormous country-specific variation of i) the populations’ ideal type shares and ii) correlations between identification with and support of the EU (Eurobarometer 77.3, May 2012). Another crucial result is the (partial) rejection of the explanatory macro variable ‘duration of EU membership’. Beyond this, the geographic split-up seems inappropriate: the often assumed idea of pragmatic ‘Eastern’ and idealistic ‘Western’ countries cannot be affirmed, which calls for a change of mind with respect to ‘East-West’ and ‘oldnew’ prejudices in this scientific field.

European identity grows out of our deepening cooperation [ … ].

More Europe means making diversity more genuinely part of our lives and allowing it to unite us.

Joachim Gauck, Federal President of Germany.

Speech on “Prospects of the European Idea”, 2013

1 Introduction

After a number of decades, it has become evident that the economic integration of the European Union (hereinafter ‘EU’) and its strengthened appearance in everyday life has neither increased the citizens’ identification with the EU nor support for it1. This is a worrying circumstance - especially since the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in 2007, which highlighted the growing range of competences assigned to the EU. This widened policy scope calls for a stronger citizens ’ commitment to the EU - assuming that a continued Europeanisation is preferable with regard to global politics and economic interweaving2.

Klaus-Dieter Lehmann states that Europe is neither a ‘melting pot’ nor a ‘salad bowl’ but a mosaic - the question is what adhesive forces keep it together (Lehmann 2012)? Many schol- ars regard identification with the EU and the European community 3 as a crucial adhesive which is said to lead directly to support for the EU (hereinafter ‘EU-identification’ and ‘EU- support’4 ). But to date, the assumption that EU-identification straightly brings EU-support has not been verified. However, a marked finding is that the relationship between both concepts is country-specific (see ch. 2). This context provides the background to this work’s research de- sign (see ch. 1.2).

National ‘visions’ of and expectations towards the EU diverge enormously5. This leads to the decisive question of how to strengthen EU-identification and EU-support among culturally and economically unequal member states? What ‘kind’ of ‘identity promotion’ is promising in a given country? In order to give political implications with regard to this question, this work attempts to ‘ map ’ national attitudes towards the EU.

1.1 Relevance

One might argue that this scientific field indicates normative overtones. This criticism cannot easily be denied. After all, voices claim the European ‘project’ as redundant and are in favour of rejecting it as a whole. However, the following three arguments emphasize the new chal- lenges of the EU and the derived relevance of the citizens ’ attitude towards it (hereinafter ‘EU-attitude’).

The times of the EU being a mere ‘top-down’ institution6 seem to be over: the EU is acquiring a citizens ’ interest. It is embedded in a reciprocal environment that features intensified ‘bottom-up’ processes - for example by democratisation7, appearances in the media, strengthened European civil society, and broadening political competencies8. This new situation requires a changing quality of transnational legitimacy.

Secondly, critical junctures are a severe issue endangering the EU’s stability. The latest criti- cal event is the financial crisis that broke out in 2007. The consequences put the member states’ solidarity to the test - the future of ‘failed’ member states is still uncertain today and some countries are not willing to provide the needed assistance. European citizens might withdraw their support as soon as the EU does not provide the expected benefits or costs are anticipated. This points to a lack of stability and deeply-rooted commitment towards the EU (hereinafter ‘EU-commitment’). Only in few member states does this kind of commitment seem to be prevalent9.

The third challenge the EU faces is world politics. Among powerful global players, such as the United States and China, it is favourable for the EU’s power position to speak with one voice. Despite the impossibility that all Europeans could have the same opinion on one issue, the crucial precondition seems to be an agreed-upon legitimised democratic structure of the EU. Most importantly, the citizens’ feeling of ‘belonging together’ makes this legitimate polit- ical ‘mouthpiece’ reality.

Consequently, conducting research on EU-identification and EU-support seems crucial for the EU’s new challenges. But only a little research on country-specific EU-attitude has yet been published. This study aims to take first steps into this area combining the concepts of EU- identification and EU-support. The next section clarifies this research attempt in a brief sum- mary.

1.2 Research attempt

This section contains the basic concept behind the present work intends to ‘map’ national EUattitude. Due to the early stage of presentation, many aspects of the research design are anticipated without detailed theoretical derivation (cf. ch. 3 and 4.2). Nevertheless, this overview is expected to facilitate intelligibility of the following chapters.

First of all, it is assumed that national institutions have a crucial effect on EU-attitude. For instance, political and social institutions create a unique context in which citizens form their individual attitude (see ch. 2.1 and 3). Throughout this work, institutions are, if not declared as political institution, used in a broader sense: institutions are social rules that structure relationships (Hall 1986, p 7). These rules can emerge consciously and unconsciously as a result of culture and sense-giving (Hillmann 2007: 381).

This study’s innovative idea10 is the combination of high/low EU-identification and high/low EU-support. These two concepts are of equal value, independent from each other and exhibit weak mutual influence. C onsequently, a matrix of high/low EU-identification and high/low EU-support can be established (see table 1 in ch. 4.2). The matrix contains four fields that correspond to the four ideal types11 i) ‘EU-Enthusiasts’, ii) ‘EU-Pragmatics’, iii) ‘sceptical EU-Idealists’, and iv) ‘EU-Opponents’/’EU-Non-affected’12.

This work stands in opposition to ‘ mainstream ’ assumptions which presume that EU- identification works as a sufficient (and partly necessary) condition for EU-support13. Two ‘mainstream’ ideal types are predominant in literature: ‘EU-Enthusiasts’ and ‘EU-Opponents’. Two almost neglected ideal types are shown in the ‘mixed’ cells: ‘ sceptical EU-Idealists ’ and ‘ EU-Pragmatics ’. The crucial idea behind these two patterns is that there are individuals who do identify themselves as citizens of the EU but are critical towards its politics, i.e. the ‘scep- tical EU-Idealists’. On the other hand, individuals who support these politics but do not iden- tify with its institutions or the community are ‘EU-Pragmatics’ (detailed explanation see ch. 4.2).

This perspective is usually not applied to empirical research and, consequently, the four intro- duced ideal types have not yet been analysed. I claim that these ‘mixed’ individual patterns provide essential insight into national EU-attitude. Summing up, the research question is the following:

What pattern of country-specific EU-attitude do the member states ’ populations feature? This characteristic EU-attitude is reflected by the combination of high/low EU-identification and EU-support which results in distinct, national shares, of the four ideal types ‘ EU-Enthusiasts ’ , ‘ EU-Pragmatics ’ , ‘ sceptical EUIdealists ’ , and ‘ EU-Non-affected ’ / ’ EU-Opponents ’ .

The attempt of this work is to find out, how a predetermined, dualistic framing of the EU in fluences the national attitude towards the EU (see ch. 3.2.2) 14 . This study applies a rational and an emotional dimension which refer to two societal spheres including different target objects and modes of psychological retrieval (see ch.2.1 and 3.2).

Furthermore, three explanatory approaches are presented and evaluated. The respective varia- bles are based on national contexts15: national value orientation, the evaluation of national institutions (referring to the political opportunity cost model; cf. ch. 3.3.2), and the emergence probability of EU-identification due to the prevalent national identity type (see ch. 3.3)16. The presented results are limited to descriptive results based on aggregated micro data (Euroba- rometer 77.3). Nevertheless, they provide political implications as to how EU-commitment can be strengthened considering the country-specific EU-attitude. Above this, the work at- tempts to contribute to measurement systematisation and the development of theoretical con- cepts on EU-identification and EU-support.

In order to fulfil these attempts, the study’s structure is as follows. General limitations are shown hereinafter. Chapter 2 presents relevant literature and derives shortcomings of this sci- entific field including this work’s point of contact. Afterwards, chapter 3 introduces the main theoretical perspectives and assumptions of this study and describes three theoretical explana- tory approaches. The detailed research design is found in chapter 4 including methodological positioning and operationalisation. Chapter 5 shows the results of ideal-typical EU-attitudes, presenting a country clustering and the evaluation of explanatory variables. The final chapter comprises suggestions for further research, political implications, and an outlook on the new challenges of European integration.

1.3 General limitations

The present work contains general limitations that require clarification in advance. Firstly, comparative research can be misleading, resulting in ad hoc explanations. This proves problematic because such explanations can hardly be confirmed due to the subject’s high complexity 17. Relevant influence factors are almost impossible to analyse simultaneously, such as public media, institutional checks and balances, the influence of world politics, and also individual attributes and psychological dispositions.

The reader shall also be aware that the following problems arise due to an ‘international’ questionnaire: the measurement instruments can be critizised since translations cannot master various cultural cleavages. This includes national answering strategies and culturally biased text apprehension. Also, the items provided in relevant datasets cannot fulfil the requirements of the theoretical model (cf. ch. 4.2 and 4.3). Furthermore, complexity and abstract nature of the constructs ‘identification’ and ‘support’ impede measurability; consequently, literature shows no agreed upon basic definitions and concepts which hampers the development of this research field (cf. ch. 2.2).

The question arises what the unit of analysis actually is: is it the EU, the member state, or the citizen? Besides the EU as target object of the citizens’ EU-attitude, there are also ‘Europeans’ and ‘Europe’ - in terms of history, culture, and bilateral trust - and these are meaningful alter- native target objects of commitment. Leaving this variety of options behind and turning to this study’s defined target object of citizens’ attitude, namely the EU, it is arguable as to whether it is composed of political institutions, national or transnational political actors, citizens, emer- gent abstract values, narratives, and principles - or all of the above.

Rautenfeld argues that European identity is “marked by emptiness rather than specific con- tent”; hence, individuals have room to fill it “as they best see fit” (Rautenfeld 2011, p 235). It is likely that every citizen ‘frames’ the EU differently in numerous dimensions; the identifica- tion of a nation-specific EU-attitude is highly questionable against this backdrop (cf. ch. 3.2.1, 4.2). This issue challenges this research design fundamentally.

Some scholars argue that identification with the EU is not necessary for a running political system. Referring to Habermas, only a common “civic culture” is needed18. This general suggestion also strains this work’s research design.

2 Previous research

In chapter 2.1, a brief overview of the research landscape is presented. Three sections show relevant literature whose structure is oriented towards this work’s basic research decisions. A short summary is given at the end of each section. Chapter 2.2 demonstrates the shortcomings of the research field and this study’s points of contact.

2.1 Overview of relevant research and prevailing approaches

Presenting the whole literature of this scientific realm goes beyond the scope of this work. Therefore, I focus on empirical studies that compare country-specific attitudes towards the EU and Europe. Various theoretical approaches, methods, and explanatory variables are applied to analyse attitudes towards Europe in this research landscape19. Overall, the research landscape is very difficult to structure due to various approaches and little consensus on basic concepts. Studies differ in several classification spheres, be it the theoretical approach, basic definitions, unit of analysis, or methodology. Nevertheless, the following paragraphs attempt to show a brief overview of differentiation criteria.

The ‘quest’ for adequate concepts of European identity and its support is in progress and ranges from essentialist, through rational-choice and constructivist to neo-institutionalist perspectives (cf. Fan 2008). Many sociological studies are based on institutionalist and constructivist assumptions in order to find nation-specific and/or individual characteristics that affect attitudes towards the EU. Independently of this theoretical backdrop, the main distinction seems to be a - seemingly unconscious - content-wise focus: studies mostly refer to an i) eco nomic, a political, or a social/cultural/community-based point of view.

Also, scholars’ theorisation and operationalisation of the attitude towards the EU is mostly described within a continuum. It mostly ranges from ii) affectual to rational. Another differentiation is whether the analyses interpret iii) concrete behaviour and attitudes or latent val ues and beliefs. Studies are generally conducted on iv) macro or micro level, and partly include a multilevel design. With regard to the emergence of EU-attitude, the assumed causality direction is either v) bottom-up which reflects the civil society’s influence or institutional topdown hypotheses which are currently prevailing.

So far, research has focused on specific support of the EU rather than on identification with it. The decision to analyse specific support is surely in favour of less abstractness and the easier- to-measure construct. As aforementioned, EU-support is often assumed to be the immediate result of EU-identity. Several scholars and preinvestigations of the present work have revealed that this link is not that clear20. In literature, European identity and support serve as both vi) independent or dependent variables. European identity is often ‘only’ one explanatory varia- ble amongst many. As previously mentioned, most scholars assume that EU-support is unidi- rectional dependent on the emergence of EU-identification (e.g. Christin 2008, pp #177; Mau 2005; Fuchs & Klingemann 2011; Lucarelli 2011). With regard to their operationalisation, some are even equating EU-identification and EU-support - and others skip the role of identi- ty as a whole (Haller 2009; Kritzinger 2003; Sanchez-Cuenca 2000). This means that these two concepts are not clearly differentiated in literature.

Also, various research interests are related to the topic: for instance the role of welfare re- gimes, partisanship, occupation, mobility, and the link between attitudes towards the nation and the EU (Kumlin 2009; Mau 2005). These research interests fragment the scientific field. Apart from sociological approaches, other disciplines, such as political sciences, economics, philosophy and psychology have stepped into this research realm and offer promising ap- proaches. To date, one can hardly avoid the conclusion that every scholar goes their own way.

This hampers scientific synergies; only few common standards and little consensus have yet been established.

2.1.1 Findings of qualitative and quantitative research

Qualitative studies are rare although they bear crucial potential in this research field. In quantitative research, mainly descriptive figures, regressions and multi-level-models are used to show descriptives and causalities. This section provides a short overview of qualitative and quantitative research highlighting their assets and drawbacks.

Qualitative research: the national ‘ framing ’ of the EU

In this dynamic field of research, “[q]ualitative studies on citizens’ EU-attitudes [are] compar- atively new” (Bücker 2012, pp 18 f.). The current development is due to “general doubts about the appropriateness of the quantitative or ’variable oriented approach’” (ib.). Qualitative studies are conducted in order to understand national and individual attitudes towards Europe that cannot be gathered by quantitative data. This research realm contains both macro level approaches, e.g. national “public frames” (ib.), and micro level approaches, e.g. by conduct- ing interviews on ‘European social classes’ (Fligstein 2008; Rautenfeld 2011). At the macro level, qualitative research allows for the analysis of country-specific historical background, national value orientations, national identity-patterns, and public media21 ; at the micro level, in-depth-interviews can reveal crucial insights as to how EU-attitude emerges and what di- mensions and causalities are related to it.

Qualitative studies are often interview-based, such as the work of Bücker whose interdiscipli- nary work is rooted in sociological and psychological approaches. She presents firstly a criti- cal overview of the research field’s ‘state of the art’ and shows a reflected proceeding in her own research. Furthermore, she suggests convincing systematisations of EU-attitude, EU- support and their target objects. In the perspective of social constructivism, Bücker succeeds in developing an innovative and empathic research design that examines ideal typical fram- ings of the EU 22 by Polish and Eastern German citizens. She argues that the public discourse is one of the most crucial factors of these public frames: these frames represent a national “horizon of meaning” (Bücker 2012, p 281). The results show that there is only little overlap of Eastern German and Polish public frames: this supports the hypothesis that national frames are predominant compared to European and individual frames. With regard to the study at hand, this finding highlights the relevance of differentiated national attitudes towards the EU which can hardly be gathered by quantitative analyses.

Guinaudeau gives a case in point how to combine quantitative individual data and qualitative historical deliberations. Her case study traces how French citizens shape ‘their own’ national European identity. She argues that a strong political national identification increases EUidentity whereas a strong cultural national identification decreases it (see also ch. 3.3.3). Thus, “national political cultures do play a role shaping citizens’ evaluation of the European project” which supports the idea of nation-states working as moderators between individual characteristics and their stance towards the EU (Guinaudeau 2011).

Another qualitative study that focuses on the macro level is conducted by Haller. He develops nine ideal typical country clusters which consider a nation’s unique historical backdrop and descriptives based on individual data (Haller 2009, pp 298 ff.). Haller’s country clustering thus combines qualitative-evaluative and quantitative methods23. The historical-institutional considerations include sensitive analyses of ‘national’ emotions towards the EU and specific narratives related to it. One might criticise that the nine ideal typical country clusters seem to overlook the connection to its citizens. Nevertheless, I argue that Haller’s work is a role model for future research.

Other studies working with clusters often simply assume that geographical closeness is the decisive factor. This results mostly in ‘mainstream clusters’ of ‘Core’, ‘Southern’, ‘Scandinavian’, and ‘Eastern’ countries (e.g. Mau 2005; Sanchez-Cuenca 2000, p 156). In this study, the author tries to step back from this presupposition24 .

Qualitative research highlights the importance of a sensitive insight into the peo- ple’s stance towards the EU. Country-specific public frames play a decisive role and create a “horizon of meaning” which is induced by national institutions and public media.

Quantitative research: interaction of individual and institutional variables Both individualistic and institutionalist approaches are applied in quantitative research - often combined as a multi-level analysis; thus, the data used is gathered on micro level and/or mac- ro level. Investigations with focus on individualistic assumptions mostly present descriptive figures on European identity and support. The main finding is that EU-attitude differs enor- mously i) among member states and ii) they depend heavily on the questionnaire item used - which partly leads to inconsistent results among studies. For instance, many member states, such as Austria, Sweden, Italy, Greece, and Hungary are said to be Euro-sceptical in some analyses - and in others they seem Euro-enthusiastic (Fuchs & Klingemann 2011; Fligstein 2008, p 142; Checkel & Katzenstein 2009, p 205; Risse-Kappen 2010). An explanation for these inconsistencies has not yet been found and points to a severe research gap25.

Quantitative studies often show interaction effects between the national and individual level. Depending on the member state, an individual variable has a certain effect on EU-attitude. For instance, the effect of a high occupational status can lead to stronger EU-support in one country, and in another one it leads to weaker EU-support (Cerutti & Lucarelli 2008; Fligstein 2008; Kumlin 2009).

Neil Fligstein presents a comprehensive study concerned with individual characteristics in his monograph ‘Euroclash’. It is one of the most relevant works in this research field and contains comparative cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses on European identity. Fligstein’s longi- tudinal data shows that there is no significant increase in strength of European identity from 1988 until 2004 (Fligstein 2008, p 142). France, Italy, and Germany feature a strong EU- identity; contrary to Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, and Greece26. A crucial limita- tion is that Eastern European countries are missing (Fligstein 2008, p 160). The follow-up investigation cover exactly this issue: a new article by Fligstein et al. considers the bail-outs in 2010/11 as critical juncture and presents new Eurobarometer data. They show that the fig- ures on identifying as ‘European’ has become slightly lower during the crisis but is generally stable over time. Again, strong national differences lead to the assumption that the emergence probability of EU-identification and EU-support is influenced by nationality (Fligstein 2012, pp 111 ff.) (see ch. 3). One of the most remarkable findings is that there seems to be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of the European project. Fligstein regards occupational status27 as the main influ- ence factor on the assignment to these groups (besides e.g. age, gender, and education28 )

(Fligstein 2008, pp 160 ff.; Fligstein 2012, p 118). This finding points to the possibility that not only national institutions work as decisive factor but also ‘ transnational assignment ’ to groups, e.g. a ‘European elite’29.

The following paragraphs highlight the institutionalist approach (e.g. Allam & Goerres 2011; Christin 2008; Easton 1965, pp 154 ff.; Kritzinger 2003; Mau 2005). In general, many of these works also contain individual data and conduct a comparative evaluation of explanatory macro variables. These institutional macro variables are various with regard to their manifes- tation. There are ‘hard’ indicators, such as years of EU membership, welfare regime type, and dominant parties; on the other hand, there are ‘soft’ indicators, such as the country’s ‘identity type’, and value orientation.

Christin wrote a comprehensive and well-structured monograph on citizen’s support towards the EU. It is interdisciplinary and applies a broad scope of theoretical approaches. It contains theoretical explanations of support, measurement issues, systematisation attempts, and multi- level models. Above that, Christin applies two EU-framing dimensions to analyse the attitude towards national and European entities: firstly, the stance towards the political community is measured by attachment; secondly, and the attitude towards regime institutions is measured by trust (Christin 2008, p 80)30.

The study of Brinegar highlights cross-level-interactions and argues that contextual and individual factors are crucial for support of European integration. The study reveals different attitudes towards the EU which are influenced by occupation types. These depend for their part strongly on the country’s welfare regime type and skill endowments type (Brinegar & Jolly 2005). Thus, institutionalist and individual factors seem to be highly intertwined and, again, national institutions work as ‘moderators’.

Although most of these scholars claim that each country’s context provides a unique backdrop for the relationship of individual characteristics, country dummies are - at best - commonly used in statistical regressions which do not account for the moderator effect (Carey 2002, p 391).

Quantitative research suggests that national institutions work as ‘ moderating variable ’ between individual attributes and EU-attitude. Both institutional and indi vidual factors seem to be decisive and require simultaneous analyses. identification, education, and political sophistication (Christin 2008).

2.1.2 Concepts of identity

A comprehensive summary on concepts of identity31 would go beyond the scope of this work. Therefore, this section presents studies that provide inspiration for the research design at hand. The following paragraphs introduce concepts which prepare this study’s understanding of EU-identification (see ch. 3.2.1) and crucial elements of the two-dimensional EU-framing (see ch. 3.2.2).

Checkel and Katzenstein manage to present comprehensive and sophisticated deliberations on European identity. Their anthology includes sociological, anthropological, historical, and po- litical perspectives (Checkel & Katzenstein 2009, pp 1 ff.). EU-identity is mostly figured as process initiated by a top-down construction of nations and the EU. Checkel & Katzenstein notice that utilitarian approaches and mathematized methodologies became more and more important which takes constraints and incentives induced by the EU into account (Checkel & Katzenstein 2009, pp 7 ff.). This new ‘rationalized’ mainstream perspective however hampers sociological approaches that could improve understanding of this ‘supra-identity’. Thus, EU- identity remains an undefined mystery: research has not helped yet to understand why it emerges, how it is triggered, what ‘kinds of identities’ exist, and - last but not least - what it actually is.

Risse-Kappen also presents a very sensitive comparison of identity measures. He focuses on collective identity concepts by using descriptive aggregated data (Risse-Kappen 2010). The author claims that the “Europeanization of National Identities” has occurred. In this point of view, national identity is always the - more or less - fertile ‘soil’ on which European identity grows in a unique way: although there are countless ‘kinds’ of how Europe exists in the minds of citizens they show these national characteristics. According to Risse-Kappen, citizens of Western and Southern countries are more likely to be Europeanized than citizens from Scan- dinavia and the United Kingdom. He also introduces the concept of exclusive and inclusive national identities (cf. ch. 3.3.3): inclusive national identities are more prone to allow EU- identification and are predominant in Germany, France, Spain, and Italy; whereas exclusive national identities hamper the emergence of EU-identification and are predominant in Fin- land, Sweden and Great Britain (Risse-Kappen 2010, p 46)32.

Another concept mentions the emergence of an “identity light ” version among some countries (Karolewski 2011, p 952): this ‘light’ identity becomes evident when solid support and soli- darity which imply short-term costs is needed. This ‘light’ identity is disadvantageous when critical junctures occur such as economic crises. According to Gerhards results, only the Swe- dish and Dutch are ‘real’ solidary supporters in contrast to Germany and many Southern Eu- ropean states that feature a rather pragmatic stance (Gerhards 2008). This is a surprising find- ing since most studies suggest that the Dutch and Scandinavians are very Eurosceptic. These inconsistencies call again for a more detailed examination of EU-identification and EU- support. Furthermore, the results of Risse-Kappen describe an unstable EU-attitude among ‘Eastern’ countries: although coordinated EU action was favoured by these nations during the last financial, economic, and national crises, their citizens seem to change their attitude to- wards the EU very fast when confronted by disadvantages. Risse-Kappen explains that atti- tude by a predominant rational ‘ EU-framing ’ whose mechanism of evaluation is based on cost-benefit calculation (Risse-Kappen 2010, pp 184, 251).

Fuchs’ anthology includes several theoretical and empirical articles. These contributions work on the systematisation of European identity and its political support. As an overall result, Fuchs and Klingemann state that a simultaneous identification with the nation-state and Eu- rope exists: “[c]ountry first, but Europe, too” (Fuchs & Klingemann 2011, p 110). Fuchs shows several target objects of identification and support; among others the institutions of the regime and the political community (Fuchs & Klingemann 2011, p 32). Keil also works with two dimensions, namely i) the trust in political institutions that is based on exchange; “A trusts B to do X”: trust relies on the credibility of competence and its evaluation is result- oriented; this kind of trust shows only weak stability. The second dimension is ii) the cultur- al/community-based approach; “A trusts B”: this concept does not include the evaluation of specific outputs; whereas socialisation, positive narratives, and identification with B is crucial to exhibit this kind of trust which is relatively stable (Maloney 2010, p 211, cf. ch. 3.2.2).

The previously presented case study of Guinaudeau on French identification with the EU differentiates cultural and political identity. A strong national cultural identity has a negative impact on the emergence of European identity, whereas a strong political identity has a positive one (Fuchs & Klingemann 2011, pp 133 ff.)33. Many similar dualistic concepts are found, such as inclusive vs. exclusive, civic vs. ethnic, and complementary vs. conflicting identities; they all describe a slightly different understanding how to capture identity34.

‘European identity’ is difficult to grasp and requires sensitive examination and systematisation. Relevant literature differentiates between national identity type (inclusive and exclusive), societal spheres (political and cultural), target objects (political institutions and community), and derived type of support.

2.1.3 Explanatory national institutions

This section presents basic literature on macro level approaches that aim to explain country- specific EU-attitude by national institutions35. The presented studies indicate starting points for the derivation of the three explanatory models that are elaborated in chapter 3.3 and ap- plied in chapter 5.5.

Many studies refer to Gabel’s journal article as one of the most meaningful works of this research realm. He presents five explanatory hypotheses and tests their relevance for EUsupport (Gabel 1998). Many scientists have refined these explanatory approaches and three dominant “families of explanation” are commonly identified nowadays. In comparative analyses, the studies’ explanatory variables mostly combine i) economic models, ii) collective identities, and iii) political cues 36.

The term “economic model” is ambiguous: according to Bücker, it represents the i) utilitarian perspective of the 1990s37. Therefore, decisive explanatory factors are “sociotropic utilitarian- ism” - rating economic consequences on national level - and “egocentric utilitarianism” in- cluding personal consequences38 (Bücker 2012, pp 40 f.; Cerutti & Lucarelli 2008; Gabel 1998). Another definition is presented by Christin who describes the “economic model” as the ii) individual’s value orientation towards the EU which is either based on materialist or post- materialist values. Post-materialist values are defined as advantageous for the emergence of

EU-identification and EU-support39 (Christin 2008, pp 31 ff.). This definition on value orien- tation is applied in the study at hand and chapter 3.3 elaborates concrete theoretical deriva- tions.

Beyond this, Christin checks several independent variables to explain EU-support. Among other macro variables, an economic dimension, the political opportunity cost model (see ch. 3.2.2), and the national identity type (see ch. 3.3.3) are tested. Interestingly, the ‘ baseline ’ macro variables - as duration of membership, federalism, post-communist background, GDP40, and population size - are not significan t in multi-level regressions. Only the ‘ national identity type ’, measured as the country’s mean of exclusive national identity , and the ‘ political opportunity cost model ’, operationalized by national governance quality , are highly signifi- cant in every regression (Christin 2008, pp 55, 73, 76). In short, a strong exclusive/ethnic na- tional identity and a high average mean of satisfaction with national governance decrease EU- support.

Also, several other scholars found evidence for the opportunity cost model with regard to dif- ferent research units (Sanchez-Cuenca 2000; Munoz, Torcal & Bonet 2011; Kumlin 2009; Mau 2005). Sanchez-Cuenca focused on variables that measure corruption and social protec- tion to explain EU-support. Munoz analyses the ‘ trust relationship ’ between national and Eu- ropean institutions. This relationship is mostly positive which supports the shortcut model (see ch. 3.3.2). Only citizens with extremely well-evaluated national institutions show a negative relationship.

On the other hand, Mau’s results support the opportunity cost model: he shows that Mediter- ranean countries are mostly in favour of European welfare politics while the national welfare regime is assessed as under-average. On the other hand, ‘core’ and particularly Scandinavian countries show the expected negative evaluation of a European welfare program41. The last paragraphs introduced the three promising explanatory approaches that are elaborated in chapter 3.3. The selection proved problematic with regard to numerous explanatory ap- proaches and - often contradicting - results42.


1 Roose (2010a, pp 137 f.); Fligstein (2008, p 142)

2 This field of research inherently features normative overtones. Nevertheless, Europeanization is assumed as favourable process. General discussion on desirability of European integration is not elaborated in this study.

3 Definition of the terms ‘identity’ and ‘identification’ are discussed in chapter 4.2

4 In order to facilitate reading, I introduce additional abbreviations in the following (i.e. ‘EU-support’, ‘EU- attitude’, and ‘EU-framing’). It is noteworthy that these introduced terms do not refer to the EU as subject of action. These terms describe the EU as target object of the citizens ’ identification/support/attitude/framing processes.

5 e.g. Kriesi (1999, pp 272 ff.)

6 When it comes to the EU as institution, this term describes the EU’s role as political institution incorporating its structures, procedures and rules (Hillmann 2007, p 381 f.). In the literature, the definition varies enormously depending on the discipline (DiMaggio & Powell 1991, p 1). Chapter 3.1 shows detailed aspects of this term. Usually, a very broad definition is used throughout this work: institutions are social “formal rules, compliance procedures, and standard operating procedures that structure the relationships between people” (Hall 1986, p 7). These rules can emerge consciously and unconsciously as a result of culture and sense-giving.

7 But although mentioned democratisation processes have been carefully initiated, it is arguable whether the population feels represented by the powerful and centralized EU executive.

8 Beck (2012)

9 Brost & Schiertz (2012); Habermas (2013)

10 As far as the author knows there has not yet been published a comparable research design.

11 According to Max Weber’s definition of ideal types (Hillmann & Hartfiel 2007, p 353; Weber 1984c, pp 19 ff.)

12 Respondents might rate low due to either rejection of the EU or indifference towards it; therefore, this ideal type is split in EU-Opponents and EU-Non-affected.

13 “There is the normative suggestion that the creation of European identity will lead to increased public support for integration” (Carey 2002, p 390). Confer also Mau (2005); Fuchs & Klingemann (2011); Christin (2008); Lucarelli (2011); Easton (1965). Certainly, there are scholars who perceive this relationship as rather loose, e.g. Thomas Meyer who argues that “high scores in ‘European identity’ can go very well together” with the rejection of EU integration (Meyer in Bain & Holland 2007, p 30).

14 Boomgaarden et al. (2011, p 243); Lucarelli (2011)

15 With regard to the characteristic context within each nation-state, this work’s theoretical fundament is institutionalism (Hillmann & Hartfiel 2007, p 382): national institutions are therefore the decisive factor for the emergence of transnational identification and support. Besides institutionalism, also other relevant theoretical perspectives will be introduced as social constructionism and symbolic interactionism (see ch. 3).

16 Due to the novelty and extent of this research attempt, the causality between micro and macro level cannot be examined.

17 Fuchs presents a model of mass opinion that shows the complexity of this issue on system and individual level (Fuchs & Klingemann 2011, p 44).

18 The “civic culture” assumes that shared civic principles are the main precondition for a running (transnational) political system; Almond & Sidney Verba (1989); Donig, Meyer & Winkler (2005, p 133); Fuchs & Klingemann (2011); Habermas (2008).

19 Only few studies investigate EU-identification and EU-support. I, thus, present studies analysing related concepts and target objects. For instance, there is much literature on ‘identity’ and ‘trust’ as related concepts and ‘Europe’ or ‘Europeans’ as related target objects.

20 e.g. Bruter (2006, p 174); Carey (2002, p 390); Köngeter (2013); Meyer in Bain & Holland (2007, p 30)

21 Haller (2009); Bücker (2012); Regös (2013)

22 “Frames” are defined as guiding principles that structure human action and attitude construction (Bücker 2012, pp 292 f.).

23 Some ideal type descriptions are relevant for the present study’s clustering (see ch. 5.5)

24 For practical reasons the wording of ‘Core’, ‘Southern’, ‘Scandinavian’, and ‘Eastern’ countries is nevertheless used.

25 As far as the author knows, no research attempts have yet been published to analyse this shortcoming.

26 This item is criticised due to the used item: feeling as ‘only European’ is a very rare answer in every country (average: 3.9%) (Fligstein 2008, p 141); it would have been more appropriate to include the feeling of being “European and national” and /or “national and European”.

27 Unfortunately, the effect of occupational status is not identified by each country, only dummy-variables are used statistical regressions which do not account for interaction effects.

28 This is opposed to Christin’s findings that claim gender and age insignificant factors - in contrast to

29 Opposed to findings of Rautenfeld (2011)

30 These dimensions serve as a role model for this work (see ch. 3.2.2).

31 Literature on European support is left out since its conceptualisation is less multifaceted. Its elaboration is conducted in chapters 2.1.1 and 3.2.2.

32 Other studies use alternative operationalisations and show different results; Germany, France and Sweden often show contradicting results (e.g. Haller 2009, p 306).

33 cf. Köngeter (2013)

34 A theoretical connection of these identity/identification concepts is lacking so far.

35 The term ‘institution’ is used in its broader sense of rules that structure social relationships (Hall 1986, p 7); these rules emerge consciously and unconsciously (Hillmann 2007: 381). There are ‘hard’ indicators, such as years of EU membership, welfare regime type, and dominant parties; on the other hand, there are ‘soft’ indicators, such as the country’s ‘identity type’, and value orientation.

36 Cerutti tests whether economic reasons, national identity or political attitude has an impact on EU-support (Cerutti & Lucarelli 2008). He shows that personal utility (e.g. political and economic stability, personal safety) influences significantly support. Also, European identity and cultural threats are significant.

37 In conflict with Bücker, Christin argues that cost-benefit approaches were added in the 2000’s.

38 Gabel approved that economic interests reflect the attitude towards the EU. He analysed cost-benefit calculations for two different occupational groups. Interestingly, income has a positive effect on EU-support for managers and professionals, but a negative one for manual workers. Gabel explains this by the fear of stronger competition within the more open European labour market that mainly threatens lower-skilled workers due to exchangeability (Gabel 1998).

39 Interestingly, materialist motives were particularly important for fresh member states as ‘Southern’ countries, Denmark, and Ireland. ‘Eastern’ countries are missing since this study was conducted in 1998.

40 except a few models

41 Christin (2008, pp 31 ff.)

42 These explanatory variables were concurrently tested by Allam, Christin and Fuchs with diverging results. However, the studies’ research designs and operationalisations were different so that comparison proves problematic. Christin shows that high national governance quality and exclusive national identity have strong negative effects on EU-support (Christin 2008). Fuchs included utilitarian explanatory variables, European identity and national political institutions. Results are presented by country and reveal that utilitarian reasons for support are prevalent (Fuchs & Klingemann 2011). Allam and Goerres find in a sample of post-communist countries that national political reference points (i.e. satisfaction with national democracy) have a positive


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europa EU soziologie sociology europe



Titel: Mapping attitudes towards the European Union. A comparative analysis among European citizens of 27 member states