The role of language attitudes and practices in the emergence of European identity

Comănaru, Ruxandra-Silvia (2014) The role of language attitudes and practices in the emergence of European identity. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

During the past century, Europe has experienced significant political, social and economic changes. The European countries have successfully joined together to form a union aimed at prosperity and peace across the continent. In 2012, the European Union received the Nobel Peace Prize for human rights advancements. The 28 current members are united under common European symbols and institutions, whilst they maintain their national character. It has been posited that national identity is built around language and geographical borders. Yet, the EU’s borders change continually with the accession of new members and the EU recognises all official languages of its members as official languages of the union itself. # In this dissertation I explore the function of positive attitudes and practices of multilingualism as a catalyst for European identity, while investigating the components of European identity and its relationship with national identity. A mixed methodology of questionnaires and interviews is used across three contexts: Romania, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Romania joined the EU in 2007; it presents a novel context for investigating European identity. Belgium, home of the EU, is one of the oldest members. It is symbolically divided by the French-Dutch linguistic border. Finally, the UK – where English, a global lingua franca, is an official language – has traditionally had a reserved stance towards the EU. These studies show that Europeans perceive their national and European identities as compatible, sometimes forming a hybrid identity. I find support for the notion that European identity has two components: civic and cultural – and that positive attitudes towards multilingualism are intrinsically related to and predict European identity. These results vary subtly across contexts and the interviews provide in-depth insights into these differences. I conclude by highlighting the role that European multilingualism can have in the development of a stronger union.

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: 03 Sep 2014 15:14
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2014 15:24
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/69

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