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2008 | 57 | 4 | 9-43

Article title

European identity work (First draft of a proposal for a joint research project)



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Processes of European identity formation are analysed here in terms of identity work and, specifically, relationship (interplay) between biographical and collective identity work. First sections of the text (1 and 2) are focussed on grounding the approach in a range of theoretical orientations (symbolic interactionism and culturalist perspectives), on outlining its methodological implications (the rationale for using the method of autobiographical narrative interviewing and various methods of text analysis), and, finally, on developing research questions and preliminary analytical dimensions of studying the collective identity work, especially in relation to European identity work, the latter being based on results of the author’s research on the minority nation society of Wales (e.g. collective identity constructions, and figurations, in terms of cultural periphery / centre, hybridity, and marginality). In the next step of analysis, these preliminary questions and dimensions are related to problems of European identity work in general. In the next section (3) overall heuristic strategies of the offered project are formulated: the attitude of refractive self-reflection, the dialogical principle of calibrating research interactants’ perspectives, a multi-layer approach to the interplay between individual experiences and a variety of collective meaning resources, the strategy of contrastive comparison of studied cases and, finally, the zooming procedure of focussing (coding) empirical materials. The last section of the text (4) relates to the objectives / expected products of the project concerning dimensions and integrated model of collective identity work in Europe, and their practical implications for a range of social / political activities in education, legislation, governance, as well as for NGOs, social arenas and social movements.








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  • University of Magdeburg


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