The Objectification of European Identity in the Treaties and in European Institutions’ Declarations




In recent decades the concepts of “nation” and “territorial identity” have undergone a transformation in terms of politics and academia, with a shift from traditionally dominant ethno-cultural concepts to others of a political-civic nature. The former tend to define identity through objective elements (language, history, territory, culture, traditions, etc.) while the latter take a more subjective approach (basically, ‘the will to be’). In this paper, we delve into this transformation in the case of European identity. To this end, we propose a qualitative and evolutionary approach that uses texts promoted by the EU (declarations and treaties), in which identity plays a relevant role. We carry out a content analysis that singles out those elements that have come to objectify the European identity (and, as a contrast, we look at those elements bearing on the identity of the Member States). While we identify an advance in the political-civil conception as a reflection of the general trend, culturallyoriented objective elements still remain in 21st Century texts. This reflects the need to publicly present an identity in construction as something naturalised, and as part of a reality built through
the ages. For Europe the concepts with greatest presence are “European identity” (more frequent
in reports and brief declarations), “European culture” and “common European heritage” (more
common in the treaties). These are concepts that, in some sense, reflect a given reality.


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Biografia de l'autor/a

Lluís Català Oltra, Universitat d'Alacant

He holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Alicante (UA). He has been a consultant and Associate Professor at the university for over twenty years, and since 2018 a full-time Professor in the Department of Sociology II. His main lines of research are: Identity; Sociolinguistics; the Sociology of Food.


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Com citar

Català Oltra, L. (2021) “The Objectification of European Identity in the Treaties and in European Institutions’ Declarations”, Debats. Revista de cultura, poder i societat, pp. 85–100. doi: 10.28939/iam.debats-en.2021-6.