What does the EU actually mean to citizens? An in-depth study of Dutch citizens' understandings and evaluations of the European Union

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Abstract

Although citizens' attitudes towards the European Union (EU) have been examined extensively, there is a dearth of studies on what the EU actually means to them. Inspired by observations suggesting that the EU means different things to different people, this research aimed to uncover these views using an inductive approach: 13 group interviews with a heterogenous set of homogenous groups. 45 Dutch citizens, strategically selected from various social backgrounds, were interviewed in-depth. Four discourses on the EU were identified: pragmatic, federalist, anti-establishment and disengaged. We also demonstrated that these discourses go hand-in-hand with: 1) specific evaluations of the EU beyond the conventional ‘Europhilia-Euroscepticism’ dimension; and 2) similar criticisms regarding themes emphasised by interviewees themselves – wasting of money and a lack of transparency and democracy – but for very different, sometimes even counterposing, reasons. The wider implications of our findings and possible venues for further research are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1432-1448
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Common Market Studies (JCMS)
Volume60
Issue number5
Early online date2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Vidi grant awarded to Willem de Koster by the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) [016.Vidi.185.207].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies published by University Association for Contemporary European Studies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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