London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Far away but close enough: Possibilities for developing European identity in youth before becoming a member of the European Union

Author(s) Kenig, N. & Spasovski, O.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2013  
Editor P. Cunningham (ed.) Identities and Citizenship Education: Controversy, crisis and challenges  
Age group -  
Following the practice of other aspiring countries, certain topics in the formal subject curricula in the elementary and secondary education in the FYRO Macedonia were concentrated on promoting the benefits of the country’s integration into the European Union with a clear intention to help develop European-oriented identities which could be considered broader than the traditional, the national or the ethnic ones. However, these efforts were frequently accompanied by double messages coming from the political scene especially after several unsuccessful attempts for obtaining applicant status and in view of the current economic crisis within the Union. This study is focused on identifying the effects of the formal educational efforts that were situated in a context of conflicting political and media messages on the formation of the common European identity in ethnic Macedonian youth. In order to identify its main features, we developed an Identity Structure Analysis custom-made questionnaire using the method invented by Prof. Peter Weinreich. The questionnaire consists of 10 bipolar constructs that cover the most important dimensions and values of the EU and 13 relevant entities (such as the educational system, the political parties, the media, etc.) or selves (such as current personal self, current ethnic self, or past self). It was administered to 140 (98 female and 42 male) ethnic Macedonian students of various Social Science and Natural Science Departments at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje. The results show that, in general, the values of the EU are accepted. The overall identity diffusion is mild and the dominant identity variants are those from the positive categories. There is a tendency for reducing the conflicted identifications and strengthening the empathetic identification (i.e. the perceived similarity between the self and the European values) over time. Keywords: European identity; education; identity structure analysis.

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