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Communicating the EU and Citizenship as Identification

Anne Bostanci

Communicating the EU to its citizens is not an end in itself; it is widely perceived as crucial in promoting identification. The latter is seen as the basis of engaged, active citizenship qua civic and political participation, the apparent lack of which is widely lamented. The resulting emphasis on communication, however, carries a somewhat simplistic equation of information and identification that pervades both political and academic debates. However, 'information' is most often implicitly premised on the rationalist and positivist assumption of the primacy of 'facts' and dispassionate logical argument. This paper aims to challenge the validity qua sole applicability of these assumptions when aiming for identification. It emphasises a constructivist theoretical approach and explicates theoretical and practical (both current and potential further) uses and utility of affective and narrative forms of discourse. It draws on discourse theoretic and psychoanalytically inspired political theory and innovative conceptualisations of ideology and political narrative. These are applied to an exemplary EU publication to provide some empirical evidence on how the EU is communicated to its citizens via discourses of EU citizenship. Clearly, a host of other discourses are relevant, too, but, in the context of this conference, these are particularly instructive in coming full circle to the question of how matters of citizenship in the EU are discursively represented.



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