In the past 10 years, an increasing number of social scientists and communication specialists have tried to understand how political institutions and the mass media attempt to – and often seemingly manage to – influence political identities. This body of literature has resulted in some tremendous progress in our understanding of multiple identities, identity change, and theories of communication, but in the context of European identity, there seems to be a distinct breakdown in communication between specific studies of European identity, and more general analyses of European public opinion and Europeans’ political behaviour. This article argues that a strongly emerging European identity may in fact be responsible for a number of recent developments in European public opinion and electoral behaviour that many authors have perceived as paradoxical, or simply chosen to ignore because they seemed to go against our traditional categories of analysis, such as Euroscepticism and democratic fatigue. However, this article suggests that this role of identity has been misevaluated because of some significant problems relating to the measurement, causation analysis, and interpretation of European identity as a concept and as an operational variable. This article focuses on some of these key problems, highlights some critical and often unexplained paradoxes, and proposes a few essential notions when it comes to the conceptualisation and operational measurement of political identities, as well as the evaluations of what affects them.
identity, communication, EU, euroscepticism
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