Attitudes in the City: Assessing the Influence of Local Conditions on Support for the European Union in Poland

Adrian Favero

The future of the European Union increasingly depends on the attitudes and opinions of its citizens. An important role is ascribed to the young well-educated residents, as this social group is highly mobile and in the best position to benefit from European integration. Work conducted by researchers in the field of European studies, explaining attitudes towards the EU, shows that territorial attachment and the opinions about the member state's institutional performance influences the attitudes towards the EU. If this is true, does that mean that these mechanisms can also be found on a local urban level? Cities constitute an important political, economic and cultural framework, and play a crucial role in influencing the residents' views and opinions about the world. However, there has been little attempt to examine the dynamics and construction of attitudes within urban societies in Central Europe. I assessed the influence of the residents' opinion about cities' performance and place attachment on support for the EU, by conducting semi-structured interviews with 24 MA students living and studying in one of three Polish cities: Krakow, Gdansk, and Warsaw. These personal statements and invaluable experiences provide a more nuanced approach to compare individual choices and considerations among the young well-educated urban residents. The results support the contention that a positively perceived 'quality of life' increases personal feelings of local attachment. At the same time, economic and political conditions influence attitudes towards EU integration among the urban youth, depending on the cities' individually perceived performances. In this context, the selected cities serve as a microcosm for understanding the impact of local conditions and Europeanisation in Central and Eastern Europe, thus offer a shift in focus from the traditional and dominant nation-state framework.

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