Freedom of movement and the European Union

Room 427 Muirhead Tower
Monday 30 April 2018 (16:00-17:30)

Catherine Edwards


Speaker:  Dr Kesi Mahendran (Open University)

Title: Freedom of movement and the European Union: from polarized public opinion to dialogical public opinion.    

The polarized public opinion within the 2016 UK-EU Referendum and 2017 elections across Europe demonstrates the extent to which publics constitute the new parameters of the European Union project. Despite the rising democratic fortunes of publics they have yet to capture the political psychological imagination. In particular little is understood about how citizens position themselves in relation to generalized publics when forming opinions. Two interview-led studies in England, Ireland, Germany, Scotland and Sweden (n = 100) brought participants into dialogue with EU policy stimulus materials on European citizenship and integration.

Analysis reveals citizens adopt six dialogical positions on generalized publics – avant-garde, advocating, homesteading, distancing, segmenting and progressive. These relate to a social representation of the public as having freedom from movement, freedom of movement and freedom through movement. Such findings suggest moving from oppositional ‘we/they’ public opinion towards differential ‘we/they’ dialogical relations could counter polarized publics. Taking a decisive step towards understanding dialogical publics as key to the new parameters of European integration.

This event is part of the ICCS Seminar Series and all are welcome to attend.

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