London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Attitudes and Identity: A Comparative Study of the Perspectives of European Children

Author(s) Beata Krzywosz-Rynkiewicz, Cathie Holden, Panayotta Papoulia-Tzelepi and Julia Spinthourakis, Maria Luisa de Freitas, Hugo Verkest, Marjanca Pergar Ku  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2002  
Editor Future Citizens in Europe Ed. Alistair Ross  
Language English  
Age group -  
In the present social, economic and political situation, where the world heads for globalisation and inter-state unions are formed, a key question is the correlation between national and supranational - European identity, and the development of such ties. The process of identity development in children is of particular importance, as they are currently growing up in a uniting Europe and will, in the future, take responsibility for its full integration. Understanding identity is complex as the national, political, economic and social diversity of each country underpins the European identity. In order to investigate it, we need to examine social processes in the national context at the same time as comparing social phenomena connected with identity across countries. Such an approach allows not only to understand the complexity of identity in the cultural context, but also to respect it. The development of European identity concerns not only politicians, but also educators as people make more and more contacts with various nations, religions or cultures. It follows that the promotion of an attitude of tolerance and acceptance is of primary importance if we are to prevent conflicts rooted in cultural differences. As a result of membership of CiCe, eight countries have collaborated on a project to understand the development of identity and attitudes towards different European countries in children aged 7-11. The aim of our project was to determine and describe four key areas dealing with social development and identity: Children's understanding and perception of national identity; Children's perception of tolerance and differences; Children's understanding and perception of European identity; Children's understanding of European citizenship. The eight European countries participating in the project were Belgium, Greece, Hungary, United Kingdom, Finland, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia.

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