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The Disjunction Phenomenon in the European Union. Christiane Villain-Gandossi & Jan Berting.

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Presentation on theme: "The Disjunction Phenomenon in the European Union. Christiane Villain-Gandossi & Jan Berting."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Disjunction Phenomenon in the European Union. Christiane Villain-Gandossi & Jan Berting

2 The Disjunction Phenomenon A collective representation becomes increasingly detached from the societal reality it pretends to reflect. Moreover, this growing distance between the collective representation and social reality is (purposefully?) ignored in order to avoid the disturbance of a political consensus.

3 The concept of collective representation. Different groups and classes within our societies have in several respects different ‘images’, different collective representations of the society they live in. What do we mean when we use this concept of collective representation?

4 Colllective representations Collective representations are shared mental images, which persons and collective entities have about the social and natural world they live in, but also about social worlds with which they do not have an immediate experience. Collective representations are mental maps, socially developed and shared types of knowledge.

5 Collective representations are functional. Collective representations are very functional for a social unit because they help the persons concerned to orient themselves in an otherwise too complex world. They give indications about who we are and who are the Others. They offer a grip on a world that otherwise would not be understandable. But they are also an important source of confusions.

6 Collective identity. Collective identities are strongly tied to the concept of collective representations. Collective identities are the means whereby people define themselves and others by using different markers, such as cultural features. They imply an awareness for certain differences between them and those that do not belong to their ‘community’(An exemple: Our national identities).

7 Most collective identities are relatively open, thus allowing real dialogues with other groups. We can also observe closed collectivities that have as such a fundamentalist character. The latter are often a source of many problems in (inter)national relations. Open en closed Collective Identities

8 The Disjunction Phenomenon of the European Union. The disjunction phenomenon of the EU - The political, economic and social representation of the society that has lost its “roots” in real life.

9 Multicultural societies. All European societies are multicultural in the sense that they comprise populations that are in several respects rather heterogeneous.

10 Multicultural society: a politically confused concept This concept of the multicultural society harbours a lot of political confusion because it is used both as an individualistic representation of society and as a collectivistic representation. The collectivistic representation is the source of many social tensions.

11 The collectivist multicultural society as an important source of tensions and conflicts. We will see that the collectivist multicultural representation imprisons large parts of the population in a rigid strait- jacket that is an important impediment for the ongoing modernization of society and a source of many tensions and conflicts.

12 The culture, community an d collective identity of the Others. These three concepts, used in political discourses about minorities, are mostly used in a holistic and deterministic way. An important consequence of this way of speaking is that those persons, who are considered to belong to these minorities, lose in this view almost completely their individual identity. They become prisoners of this political view. The Diabolical Triangle is born.

13 The Diabolic Triangle

14 Culture, community and collective identity.

15 Different degrees of inclusion of minorities in a modern society.

16 How to escape from the diabolic triangle? Task one: disclose systematically the fatal disjunction between the collectivistic concepts of culture, community and collective identity and the social and cultural reality to which they refer. Task two: The construction of a new collective representation of society that avoids the critizised concepts, being a new challenge for our European future.

17 The role of the social sciences and the mass media The social and the human sciences have as an important task before them to shrug off their conformist approach in the field of minority studies. The mass media should deliver critical analyses of the information they distribute about minorities and immigrants.

18 A comparative analysis of the collective representations of minorities in different Europeancountries. A systematic analysis of collective representations in political life in relation with minorities discloses the often wide gap between collective representations and the social realities to which they refer.

19 What about the situation in the countries that are included in REDUPRE? Also in these countries the common heritage of collective representations and of collective identities looms large. As elsewhere, each state, country and region is loaded with its own collective representations, being the result of their own historical past. As elsewhere, the main challenge is to escape from collectivistic heritages.

20 Europe’s future, a challenge. The further development of the European Union necessitates the systematic analysis of the collective representations that may facilitate, slow down and even block this common enterprise. The present economic crisis shows clearly that this important task is severely neglected by the political class.

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