Starting from the asymmetry observed between the setting up of European citizenship and the persistent national identifications of Europeans, this paper addresses the question of the reciprocal feelings of Europeans for each other within the framework of a broader question about mechanisms for the formation of a European political community. In the medium term, could a degree of preference for other Europeans compensate for the fact that Europeans have little knowledge of, interest in, or attachment to their Union? The analysis is based on results from eight focus groups organized in Paris and Brussels using a moderation technique designed to foster the expression of disagreement between participants. Because they are conflictive, these discussions are characterized by their emotionality. We analyze the emotions shown by participants regarding other Europeans through three different but complementary techniques (interpretative analysis of the discussion dynamics, automatic content analysis, and manual codification). The analysis shows that if Europeans ? and more specifically West Europeans ? are discussed, this takes place without much display of emotion, thereby limiting support for the thesis of European preference. However, this also suggest that as far as the French and the (French-speaking) Belgians are concerned, West Europeans do not (or no longer?) belong to the “Other” category in the sense of people who contribute to self-definition, or the making of “us,” through differentiation. These findings will be interpreted differently by post-nationalists and by those who consider European integration to be a process similar to nation building in past centuries.
Virginie Van Ingelgom
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