9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS03 East and West in Europe

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Post-communist Transformations and East-West Division in Europe Building I, 1E4

The moving border between East and West in Europe: indicators, imageries, identities

The paper looks at the construction of the place of new EU member states among the countries of Europe, depending on the indicators and imageries in the different spheres: economic development, human development, democratic consolidation, media representations. The analysis focus on the changes of the symbolic border between East and West during the three periods. The first period started with political mass movements in the late 1980s, when the border between the East and the West was clearly defined and symbolically marked by the Berlin Wall. For the differentiation were on the first place used the political concepts created during the cold war. The changes of the political East-West border were considered as simply removing it in the process of the re-unification of Europe, imagined as an unidirectional and unilateral process of westernization of the previous East. The post-communist countries were grouped by international experts according to their speed of moving from the East to the West. This moving could be described and compared, using the set of standardized objective indicators. This period ended and the second period started with the accession of the one part of the previous eastern bloc to EU. During the second period revealed itself the ambiguity of the new united Europe. On the one side, the new EU members became the western neighbours of their previous fellow countries with whome they have shared the fate of the communist dictatorships. From the other side, the western identity of the new EU members was challenged by the imageries and attitudes still dominating in the old Europe. At the same time, the new distinctions and groupings appeared among the new members themselves, distinguished now more often according to their northern, central and southern European identity, than to the East and West affiliation. Especially after the second wave of the eastern enlargement of the EU the border between the West and East became blurred. The new situation emerged in 2008. Under the impact of the widening and deepening economic crisis, the tendencies for the protectionism and isolationism threaten to re-fix the old divisions between the East and the West.