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The Concept of European Citizenship According to Erasmus Students: Expectations and Real Experiences of Different Generations.

Francesca Ieracitano

A recurring criticism of the European Union is that it focuses mainly on political and economic factors while neglecting the development of a common European culture and sense of European citizenship. However we can find signs of cultural transformation in the way that Europeans use their borders as a physical, social and symbolic space. Usually nowadays, the term "frontier" is replaced by "boundary" as an elastic and extendible meeting space. The aim of this paper is to analyse the relationship between the concepts of boundaries, mobility and integration and the notions of European identity and citizenship. To understand the meaning these concepts have for people who live in the trans-national European dimension, opinions of Italian and foreign students who took part in the Erasmus exchange programme were gathered. The in-depth interviews were focused on the meanings, the expectations and the real experiences that the concept of European citizenship presents for Erasmus students and also whether European citizenship really exists for them. The opinions of the respondents helped highlight the symbolic potential for European citizenship rights to serve as a vehicle of new integration strategies. The way Erasmus students reinterpret the concept of European citizenship and how its symbolic potential could help the European integration process was also analysed

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