Collective Identity as Shared Ethical Self-Understanding: The Case of the Emerging European Identity
Title: Collective Identity as Shared Ethical Self-Understanding: The Case of the Emerging European Identity
Author: KANTNER, Cathleen
Citation: European Journal of Social Theory, 2006, 9, 4, 501-523
Against the common view that a European identity is a functional precondition for legitimate EU governance, this article argues that conceptual weaknesses of the term ‘collective identity’ have led to a confusion of several analytic dimensions of ‘identity’ and to an overestimation of strong forms of collective identity. Insights provided by analytic philosophy will be introduced in order to redefine and differentiate ‘collective identity’. The ways in which people refer to themselves as members of we-groups will be outlined and illustrated in order to contribute to an innovative model of the problem and therefore the policy-related formation of collective identities. The article concludes that a strong European identity is not a functional precondition for legitimate everyday democratic governance in the EU. Only in extraordinary situations and in order to institutionalize integration in ethically sensitive policy fields is it necessary that EU citizens discursively agree on an ethical self-understanding of their way of life
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