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Identity Formation in the European Union: Overcoming LIinguistic Diversity through Demos Formation

Erin O'Leary

The dream of the European Union imagined by the founding fathers was for European citizens to identify more and more with Europe, leading to an eventual transfer of attachment from the nation to the supra-nation. Following this dream, the EU has attempted to forge a European identity using the same archetypes used by the nation when constructing national identities. This has had the resulting consequence of placing the EU in conflict with national identities rather than succeeding in the aim of superseding or existing alongside them. Instead,what is needed is a solidly defined demos identity which does not rely on the archetypes used to form national identities, and thus moves away from pre-conceived, post-Enlightenment views of identity formation. The difficulty comes from the significant role played by the existence of a common language in collective identity formation, and the democratic participation possibilities such a common language offers to the collective. However, given that collective identity can be argued to be an artificial construct, we can deconstruct it and remove language's position as a significant marker in collective identity formation, and thus begin to reconstruct a collective demos at theEuropean level which allows for democratic participation but doesn't rely on a common language and which doesn't pit the European identity against national one.

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