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Citizens Talking About Europe: Discussion Becoming Political

Elizabeth Frazer

This paper will present analysis of data gathered in focus groups in Paris, Brussels and Oxford. Groups were constituted so as to be maximally socio-economically homogeneous (participants with similar education level and occupation) but politically heterogeneous (participants with left and right party identifications, and pro and anti views on Europe). In extended focus group sessions the themes of European citizenship and enlargement (specifically, the reasons for and against Turkey's admission) were explored. Analysis (currently in the early stages) reveals both national and social class differences in participants' constructions of the legitimacy of the European Union and the prospects for European citizenship. Within group disputes revolve around the axes openness v closure (regarding nation and economy), and euroscepticism of right and left v euroenthusiasm. These substantive disputes are inflected first by group participants' orientations to cooperative deliberative procedure or conflictual encounter, and second by participants' ethnic and citizenship identity.



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