9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS07 Memory, Culture and Public Discourse

2009-09-05 15:30:00 2009-09-05 17:00:00 Saturday, 5 September 15:30 - 17:00 Collective Memory and the Epochal Change Building I, 1E7

In search of the New European. Identity without memory

The paper addresses the question (1) if the process of European integration can result in the birth of New European, (2) how effective are attempts of controlled creation of new identity's level for 'new cosmopolitan Europe' citizens, (3) what are the possibilities and conditions, in which such category could really arise in European's self-awareness and present an important reference level?
The Old Continent is a spectator of processes in which new Europe forms itself and is tried to be formed at the same time. The new reality comes and calls for fresh categories, meanings and senses, and most of all - it seeks motivation resources, which will direct individual actions at solving problems with wider, supranational optic and horizon. UE needs such motivation, but do Europeans need to be and act in UE as Europeans?
The presentation begins with a definition of identity as a process. Next part describes European citizen's attitude towards history and memory. Further on, the relation between symbolic world (which provides individuals with reference points, categories for understanding and explaining) and social world in the context of integrating Europe is examined, also basing on the statistical data. UE is analyzed using a conception of collective identity by Leszek Kolakowski, what leads to conclusion about conditionings of possible modifications of Europe's and national states' ontology.
The inquiries results in a proposition of New European identity's perspective which emphasizes its processual and unstable character, orientation for future and utilitarian foundation. Traditional understanding of identity has to be changed: it is not the past who expects us to be Europeans, it is us - Europeans - to expect the future to fulfill our expectations for tomorrow. The most important element of such understood identity is neither culture, tradition, history, memory nor language, but - at the most abstractive level - a kind of trust for future. Whereas at the level of everyday life the most important category becomes utility. For national identity people could give their lives. For European identity it has to be worth living for. Only this way it is possible to understand New European's self- consciousness.