How European is European Identity? Extent and Structure of Continental Identification in Global Comparison Using SEM
European identification has been previously explained by the selective gains brought by the European integration process, by personal transnational experiences and by the influence of political programs aiming at increasing levels of identification. All these explanations imply that identification with one’s continent would be specific in extent and distribution across the social structure in comparison to other continents. These implicit assumptions of the discussion are tested with a global comparison using International Social Service Programme (ISSP) data and a longitudinal analysis using Eurobarometer data. The results show that, firstly, the current extent of continental identification in Europe is not higher than in other continents. Secondly, they reveal that there has been no increase in European identification in recent decades and thirdly, group comparing structural equation modeling (SEM) shows, that distribution of continental identification is similar on all continents. Accordingly, explaining European identification with respect to policy output of the EU is questioned by the findings. European identification proves to be independent of European political integration. Conclusions for transnational identity research and the European integration process are discussed.
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