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54 Working Paper

National Identities European Integration 'From Below': Bringing the People Back In

1994 – Ulf Hedetoft


The point of departure of this paper is the relative neglect of questions of culture and identity in research on European integration. Almost as a copycat version of problems also besetting research on nationalism eo ipso, people(s) and their values, assumptions, and attitudes have at best been the stepchild of an area dominated by neofunctionalist approaches, privileging the "independent variable" of elites, politics, and officially fonnulated interests. Through the presentation and discussion of two case studies-imaginings of the Single Market and of Political Integration as evidenced by data collated in Denmark, Gennany, and Great Britain between 1991 and 1993, and analyzed comparatively-the paper argues that there is a strong case to be made for taking the "view from below" more seriously, both from a functional and an "autonomous" research perspective-i.e., one interested in the forms, substances, and processual tendencies of nationalism and national identities in contemporary Europe (including the forms and degrees of existence of that much-abused tenn, "a European identity"). The paper focuses both on similarities and distinctive traits in and among the three countries, and tries finally to situate the results of the analyses as signs of a more globalizing tendency toward a dislocation and disaggregation between "politics" and "culture" within the traditional framework of nation-state convergence.