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Learning to Be(come) A Good European : A Critical Analysis of the Official European Union Discourse on European Identity and Higher Education

Johansson, Jonna

Konferensbidrag (Refereegranskat)


During the year 2007, the European Union could look back at fifty years of collaboration, which began with the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 and which has developed from being mainly economic in character to incorporating a political as well as a social dimension at the European level. In 2007 the European Union also commemorated the twentieth anniversary of Erasmus, its higher education mobility programme. It is this relatively new political dimension which I have been interested in investigating in my research. More precisely it is the political construction of a common European identity which is analysed using a critical discourse analysis approach.The major aim of this research has been twofold. The first aim has been to investigate how the European is constructed in the discourse contained within the official European Union policy documents. I have been interested in analysing the various structures, in the form of ideas and norms which are used in order to cons truct ‘the European’. In this sense This research is a study of the power of modern government. I am influenced by Foucault and his concept of ’governmentality’ which can be linked to his other concepts of ’conduct of conduct’ and ’conduct of the self’. Is being a European something we are or something we become? I argue that there is an increase in normative soft power where ‘The Good European’ is not something ‘you’ are but something ‘you’ become by being a responsible active citizen who partake in higher education as a lifelong learning project. The second aim has been to explore whether the role of higher education, as constructed in the official European Union discourse, is given a similar identity-making role as education is argued to have in the nationstate according to the theory on national identity. I argue that there are three version of European identity construction, i.e. cultural, civic, and neo-liberal, with their own relationship to highe r education, present in the empirical material analysed, consisting of official European Union documents. Through the use of critical discourse analysis I illuminate the power which resides in the language in the discourse analysed. Thus, I have been interested in investigating how the official European Union discourse on European identity and higher education works to both include and exclude individuals. © 2016, Hellenic American University

Nyckelord: identity; higher education; culture; citizenship; neo-liberalism

Citera: Johansson, Jonna, Learning to Be(come) A Good European: A Critical Analysis of the Official European Union Discourse on European Identity and Higher Education, 1st International Conference Europe in Discourse: Identity, Diversity, Borders : Book of Abstracts., s. 121-121, 2016