Section 33: Identity and Challenges to Democracy – ECPR General Conference Hamburg

Section 33: Identity and Challenges to Democracy – ECPR General Conference Hamburg

We are happy to announce that we are able to host presentations of 22 exciting papers in 5 panels at the ECPR General conference in Hamburg this August.

(The full program is available on the ECPR webpage)

Panel 1 Transformations of national identity in Europe

National identities are social constructs that position a group of nationals in relation to ‘others’. When exposed to the effects of globalization, when new people enter the national community, when countries are struck by severe crises and when the status of borders between countries changes, national identities are pushed to be redefined or reaffirmed. Changes in the beliefs of which values, norms and interests are shared by a national group in turn have consequences for what is perceived as democratically legitimate governance of the national group in question. This panel gathers papers that study these dynamics in a variety of European contexts.

Panel 2 Challenges of European identification

As the European Union emerges from several recent crises, its oft-decried democratic deficit remains one of the most important challenges to further integration. This panel address this issue and brings together papers which explore various aspects of the current processes of community-building in the transnational space of Europe. European identification is analysed through its framing in the public discourse and its connection to emotions, in relation to different contents of identification and trust in institutions, as well as in its link to migration attitudes and migrant identities. The results of such multidimensional examination of the topic will illuminate the dynamics of supranational identification in a post-crisis Europe.

Panel 3 Identities in the context of populism

Identity and identity politics play a vital role in phenomena closely related with today’s challenges to democracy. As growing numbers of the citizenry in democratic countries are disillusioned with liberal democracy, they become increasingly tempted by populist politics, paroles of protectionism, and demands for secessionism, as well as attacks on minority rights. The discourse of single and narrow identities enters into elected positions of members of populist, authoritarian, and anti-pluralist parties and influences current political and societal debates.

Panel 4 EU Cohesion policy, solidarity and European identification

This panel is designed to shed new light on the relationship between EU Cohesion policy and citizens’ attitudes to, and identification, with the European Union. While scholarship on political behaviour and collective identity in the EU has a long tradition, and has increased salience following the rise of nationalist and anti-EU sentiment across many parts of Europe in the post-crisis era, there remains a lack of robust knowledge about how specific EU policies impact on citizens’ European attitudes and identity, especially at the subnational level. In principle, Cohesion policy is ideally placed to bring the EU closer to citizens, is the most explicit expression of EU solidarity, its visible impact on people’s daily lives through investment in infrastructure, business development and training, and a pioneering multilevel governance model of implementation that encourages local and civic engagement. Yet, there are unanswered questions about the extent of knowledge and awareness of the policy and its benefits among citizens, what drives and hinders public support for solidarity and cohesion, how it is communicated in the media and translated into attitudes to and identification with the EU across regions and localities.

Panel 5 Social movements and mobilization of political identities

The definition and delimitation of collective identities can be instrumental to a successful political mobilization of the citizens, either by state actors, competing political parties and their candidates, or social movements. Competing visions and definitions of collective identities are often used to build support for existing institutions, as well as to change or challenge them. Moreover, partisan use of collective identity for electoral purposes can potentially lead to conflict and polarization within the society. This panel brings together papers which examine several such processes and improve our understanding of the role of identity in political mobilization.

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