Europe in our pockets: national identity and European currency
Sociology Universidade do Minho Braga, Portugal
For about three centuries nation-state was the core structure in territorial, political and economical organization of the western world. In the last fifty years, globalization along with European unification produced a new understanding on frontiers, sovereignty and belonging. The changes produced by European integration lead us to ask some questions about the Europeans self-definition and the emerging ways of thinking national identity and national culture. What does it mean to be national of a country in a globalized world? Are there new forms of identification available in order to deal with transnational economies, massification of culture and weakening of boundaries? How does national identification cope with a larger circle of identification, the European one? How do national cultures cope with increasing cultural diversity and pluralism of values?
Taking the Portuguese case, I would say that the democratic revolution, in 1974, and following integration process aroused an internal debate on Portugal?s position in the world, namely the imperial vocation vs. European option. According to Eurobarometer figures and data collected in several focus groups, Portuguese tend to assess European integration in a losses and benefits scheme. Thus Europe is foremost seen as a provider of economic development and not as a space of culture and identity. It can be said that Portuguese have ambiguous representations in regard to the approximation to Europe occurred in the last three decades and that the same applies to the historical and symbolic connection the country had with the empire. That is, national identity has been reconstructed in order to accommodate the Europeanization of the country and to preserve cultural and historical specificities, resulting in an ambivalent position towards Europe. This means that the senses of belonging to national and European spaces are reconfigured and strategic forms of identification - that include both the longing to be European and the precedence of being national ? are shaped, particularly with regard to the process of replacing the national currency by the European currency.