The discursive construction of Europeanness : a transnational perspective

Zappettini, Franco (2015) The discursive construction of Europeanness : a transnational perspective. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the construction of ‘European identity’ in the discourses of members of European Alternatives (EA), an association of citizens which characterizes itself as committed to the grassroots construction of a better society ‘beyond the nation-state’. By taking bottom-up and transnational perspectives, this study intends to fill a gap in the field of Critical Discourse Studies that seems to have largely underestimated the value of social action and the need to move away from ‘methodological nationalism’ in conceiving of how Europeanness is transformed and enacted. The study applies the Discourse Historical Approach (Wodak 2001) to a corpus of data comprising of four focus groups and nine individual interviews with EA members from 10 different branches across Europe. The results suggest a complex and very dynamic picture of how European identities are constructed, challenged and transformed by members who, typically, adopted strategies of dismantling of nationhood, and strategies of ‘imagining’ new communities, spaces and social orders. Two key linguistic features conspicuously drive the members’ discourses of ‘belonging to Europe/being European’. One is the metaphorical scenario of spatial dynamics that, by and large, makes sense of the ‘European space’ as unbounded and interconnected with the world and whereby the European society is seen as progression and expansion of an ‘imagined’ community towards certain cosmopolitan ideals. The second element is the indexicality of transnationalism and Europe, two terms that members invested with a range of meanings including ideals of democracy, diversity, and equality but that were also constructed through the recontextualisation of historical discourses of nationhood. This thesis thus suggests that, for EA members, the transformation of Europeanness is not a linear process (as for example some theories of the ‘Europeanisation’ of society would have it) but, rather a dialectic one which relates to one’s situatedness within temporal, spatial, and social dimensions and which is achieved via multiple and dynamic identification processes with different communities of relevance.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > Applied Linguistics & Communication
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2015 09:49
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2016 12:47
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/141

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