9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN03 Biographical Perspectives on European Societies

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Euroidentities. The Evolution of European Identity: Using biographical methods to study the development of European identity I Building II, C2.02

Through farmers' biographical narratives: towards diversity in the European identities

The paper is based on the research work in the frame of the Euroidentities Project that studies the evolution of the European identity using the biographical ?bottom-up? processes of identity construction in the everyday life of the European ?ordinary? citizens. The paper will focus on the ?Farmers? ? one of the five ?sensitized groups? that are studied.

Farmers have a long tradition of dealing with European legislation, with the economic movements of the European agrarian market and with lobbying for their interests through their associations and political parties.

The farmers? group is heterogeneous in terms of social structure, values and identities. The construction of biographies of farmers from the ?old? and the ?new? Member states has different grounds and diverse development modes. In contrast to other ?sensitized groups? who may be more mobile to incorporate European identities, farmers could be defined as a more static group who are strongly affiliated with the national due to their bonds to a certain territory and land. This applies especially to farmers from the new Member states (NMS) whose resident-identities are still stronger compared to the collective European identity. ?Self? and local-bonded identities and individual prosperity still dominate over other collective civil and moral values. Hence, the ?identity work? of farmers from the NMS towards the construction of new interconnections is important for present and future EU integration.
In contrast, the farmers in the ?old? EU states have internalized the European norms and values. Their biographies have emerged and developed in other political, economic and value systems, that are historically linked to the European. Generally, West-European farmers have more ?associative habits?, they tend to be more socially included, and they are organized in associations that express their concerns and demands to the EU CAP. These identities have evolved for years through their individual biographical experiences, and in an interactive process within the common EU market and environment.

Researching the diversity in the biographical narratives of the farmers on national level, as well as in a cross-national aspect, is expected to produce effective comparative analysis of the European identity construction.